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During pregnancy, most of us ladies tend to focus on preparing for labor and baby.
Which is great!
It just means that sometimes caring for ourselves postpartum can be shocking. There’s all sorts of crazy things that most people don’t mention! Here’s a few to realities to help prepare you for postpartum surprises, at least a little bit better.
You’re Going to Bleed… Longer Than You Think
I remember hearing that the postpartum period should last 8 weeks. Ehem. I feel like that’s similar to telling women their period can be around 3-8 days long. Who’s the lucky one who gets only 3 days a month?
10 weeks in, I was still bleeding hard and was getting worried. Luckily my friends who had recently had kids reassured me. “8 weeks is a joke!” They said, “Plan for 10 and expect longer than that.”
And sure enough, the postpartum period dragged on forever. I stopped counting after 10 weeks to avoid depressing myself further!
So how can you prepare for this?
1. Load up on pad sales during pregnancy. Find your favorite brand (mine are these) and wait for them to go on sale at any of the stores you frequent. I know it’s hard to imagine ever facing periods again when you’re pregnant, but preparing now will save you time and money later!
2. Purchase a good feminine wash. You’ll need to clean up frequently down there, and you will probably be desperate to feel and smell clean at least a few times across your period. So use these to aid both!
3. Use plain, unimportant underwear. This is not the time to be sporting a pretty thong, ladies. Go to Wal-Mart, get a 10 or 15 pack of their generic white undies, and plan on using and abusing those for a few months.
(Lots of times women will tell you to wear these to the hospital so you don’t ruin your favorite ones after labor — but they don’t tell you about the postpartum mess that lasts for months! Prepare ahead!)
Your Hormones Will Be Insane
Pregnant lady hormones got nothing on the postpartum period. I think we could all be clinically diagnosed as bipolar just for the postpartum period (let alone having a new little one to care for!). One day you’ll be gleefully snapping selfies with your cute new one and the next you’ll feel like a bloated, aching couch potato. And that’s okay!
How can you help this?
1. Meal prep ahead of time. I did 2 weeks worth of meals and absolutely loved them, but once I ran out, I resorted to fast food. Not a good idea! Junk food messes with hormones even worse! Meal plan ahead or try using relatively healthy (purchaseable) freezer meals.
2. Save up $$$ during pregnancy. You will probably anticipate baby expenses, but make sure to add mom expenses in there too! There will be days you just can’t eat another freezer meal and will want something new. So save up for that occasional restaurant trip!
3. Try to take up a relaxing practice such as meditation or prayer. You will be mommy monster some days, but this will help keep your negative reactions to a minimum. I also enjoyed reading and watching ASMR YouTube videos to help with this!
Your Hair Falls Out Like Crazy
I had NO IDEA that this happened. I was just showering a few weeks after delivering Em and realized, I was rubbing handfuls of hair off my head just by shampooing! Horrified, I once again called my friend who had kids a few months before me. “Oh yeah, that’s completely normal.” She responded, “you didn’t shed much when you were pregnant and now your body is compensating for that.”
And I lost hair for months. Even longer than I had the postpartum period. In those big handfuls, every shower. I’m not exactly sure how I still have hair on my head today, but somehow I do, and you will too!
How can you help this?
All that hair loss itches. Massage your head with a gentle hairbrush every night to help get rid of the loose hairs and clean your scalp thoroughly when you bathe. Other than that, you just gotta deal with it :/
You Won’t Dress Up All the Time
I know we moms all have this mental image of ourselves as super moms looking amazing and having a happy baby, but frankly, that’s not really realistic.
A good rule of thumb I have heard, is that you should’t expect yourself to return to consistent “pre-baby” self care until 6 months after you’ve had baby.
Now yes, there are a few goddesses out there that look like they came off the runway instead of just having had a baby. Their makeup will be perfect, their clothes flattering, and they’ll go out in public smiling. You will probably be jealous/intimidated/depressed watching them, because you’ll be in some comfy loose clothes, hair in mess or ponytail, and with a little bit of jiggle tummy.
I want to encourage you NOT to be jealous of those goddesses. Don’t try to mimic them. Their appearance reflects what’s important to them, which is looking good. It’s okay if it’s more important to you to relax and enjoy your day. It’s okay if it’s more important to you to have given extra time to your baby. It’s okay for looks to take a sideline right after you’ve had a baby. If people aren’t satisfied that you just had a kid and lived to tell the tale, they’re not worth dressing up for anyway.
Now, that said! It is good to take care of yourself. Make sure to at least shower and brush your teeth, it’ll help you feel a little better. But don’t stress yourself out trying to look amazing. Embrace the beautiful act you’ve accomplished as a new mark of beauty 🙂
If you still aren’t feeling like taking the time to get ready in the morning after six months (and you did before delivery), you might want to take an inventory of your interests and make sure you haven’t just gotten stuck in a mom slump. If you have, get out! Try a new workout video, new hairdo, new makeup look. Something to re-excite your interest in taking special care of yourself.
So overall, postpartum recovery is rough. You’ll feel gross bleeding all the time, lose hair like crazy, and enjoy a few other recovery side effects. But you will make it! None of us moms have a guidebook on how to do it and somehow we make it, you will too 🙂
Thanks for reading!