Bringing a baby into the world is no small feat. While it's easy to find endless information about getting pregnant and childbirth, what to expect after having your baby tends to be less discussed.
Here at Binto, we believe the postpartum experience is just as important as — if not even more important than — childbirth. We've also created a special postpartum pack to ensure new moms get all the nutrients they need. (Fill out our survey to start!)
"For women, the postpartum period is the most fragile and critical time that a mom and baby might face," explains Suzie Welsh, RN, founder of BINTO and a women's health nurse.
"Not only do women experience a massive hormonal shift, but at the same time, they’re tasked with caring for a new life," Nurse Suzie says. "They can feel isolated, unsure, sad, and confused." Plus, nearly 90% of new moms (and dads!) are not well-educated about the postpartum experience.
To be sure, adjusting to life with a newborn can be a magical time for new parents. However, with the joys that come with bringing a new life into the world, there can also be some challenges — both physical and mental. Below, we're chatting about a few postpartum changes that new moms can expect.
1. You could experience bleeding for up to 6 weeks.
2. You can expect some pain and soreness.
The perineum (the area of skin between the vagina and anus) could be sore and sensitive following childbirth. To feel better, it can help to sit in a tub filled with a few inches of warm water (a.k.a. a sitz bath). You can also purchase a small basin to fit on top of a toilet.
You could also have after-pains, or cramps, in your uterus. This is more common in women who have had more than one pregnancy. To relieve discomfort, try lying on your stomach with a pillow under your lower abdomen. Pain meds, heating pads, sitz baths, and light exercise like walking can also help.
3. Your breasts will be swollen — and possibly sore.
As milk comes into your breasts, you breasts can swell, or become "engorged." This leads to a feeling of warmth, hardness, and heaviness in the breasts, and it may be uncomfortable or sore.
If breastfeeding, you can prevent engorgement by frequently feeding your baby or pumping your breasts. Applying warm compresses or take a warm shower can also help let the milk down.
Other tips to relieve discomfort include: applying ice packs, using an anti-inflammatory medication, or wearing supporting bras. You can also chat with a BINTO nurse — who are all certified lactation consultants — to get personalized advice and support.
4. Your bowel movements may be uncomfortable.
Yep, here's another fun side effect from bringing a new life into the world. Before leaving the hospital, your doctors will want to ensure you can pass a bowel movement and urinate on your own. It can be uncomfortable or even painful at first.
To ease things along at home, you can make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and drink at least 10 to 12 glasses of water per day.
Note: Narcotic pain relievers may worsen the situation, so try to minimize their use. Hemorrhoids can also happen. Over-the-counter creams can help with discomfort, as can sitz baths. If constipation continues to be a problem, call your healthcare provider or consult your BINTO nurse.
5. You could experience bladder leakage.
When you deliver a baby, the muscles that control urinary contractions may stretch out, leading to temporary loss of urinary control. This means leaks could occur as you laugh, cough, or strain. Kegel exercises can help, and it should improve a few weeks after delivery.
If incontinence continues to be a problem after your first postpartum check-up, check in with your BINTO nurse or talk to your healthcare provider.
6. Your hair might thin.
Baby balding is a real thing. Certain supplements, such as biotin (which we include in our BINTO postpartum packs) can help prevent this hair loss.
7. You might start sweating more.
Due to the hormonal changes, new moms may experience increased perspiration, especially at night. Protect yourself from getting the chills by showering and changing your clothes and change bed linens. Also, be sure to drink plenty of liquids to help you stay hydrated.
8. You may feel very emotional.
You've just gone through a massive hormonal shift — not to mention a truly life-changing event, Nurse Suzie explains. "It's natural to feel very emotional in the first few weeks postpartum," she notes.
While "baby blues" are real — and normal — be aware of the signs of postpartum depression, which is something different and more intense. "If you feel like harming yourself or your baby, if you feel disconnected, if you don't want to hold your baby, or if feel like you can’t even get out of bed, then it's time to see a mental health therapist," Nurse Suzie says.