The Postpartum Princess – the things people don’t tell you
So you have this beautiful blessing in your arms, life is bliss… until a couple of days after being home. Now that the pregnancy is over, things are supposed to be rosy, peachy, people are there to help, people are bringing you meals, people are raving over your new addition. You should be feeling somewhat like a princess…RIGHT?
Until, there are those sleepless nights as your baby is not adjusting to day and night and this crazy world, sore nipples and latching problems, a spare tire of a stomach that does not seem to be shrinking, constipation or just pain when you sit, bladder spasms or no control at all, an endless heavy menstrual cycle that ruins your clothes, even heavier mood swings, starvation, forgetfulness…all the things people “forgot” to tell you about.
Do any of these things ring a bell?
Lets spend a little time on a few of these things and the impact that they have on you, the “Wannabe postpartum princess.”
Sleepless night– I think this is one of the things that maybe people warned you about, but the level of exhaustion is just on a level that is hard to explain or even grasp until you have experienced it. Thankfully this only lasts for a few weeks, for most people. However, it is quite honestly…HORRIBLE. Initially, you experience grogginess, being unfocused, very sluggish and dying for a nap (or a second cup of coffee – which is not the best idea for a nursing mom). If you are like most people, you will also likely experience things like being overly emotional, starving and more clumsy than usual. The nice thing is for the average person, a solid night’s sleep will solve all these problems. However, what about the postpartum princess? A good solid lights rest is no where in sight. So the inevitable happens, these symptoms not only continue, but become worse and worse. So the simple fact that you are not getting enough sleep can be the ultimate culprit of many of these things people don’t tell you about.
- Ways to help – nap when baby is napping, delegate tasks, don’t be afraid to ask for help, try not to worry about things that are not getting done. Try and do something for “YOU” every couple of days.
Sore nipples/latching problem
We all hear, breastfeeding is natural, our bodies “know what to do.” Breast is best. These are all the things that we read and people tell us before we have the baby, right? I remember hearing about half the people say they didn’t have problems and the other half say they just couldn’t make it work. There are so many variables that impact milk production, and honestly I feel there is not much “we” ourselves can control. With my first son, my milk production was inadequate. I tried everything, increasing hydration, herbs, teas, lactation support, yeast, oatmeal. Nothing increased my production. Currently with my son, I have done nothing and I have twice if not triple the production. Like my OB said, your either a COW or you’re not. As much frustration and stress this in itself can cause, add that to lack of sleep, now you now why postpartum depression is so prevalent.
- Educate yourself, seek lactation support, keep yourself hydrated, DO NOT STRESS, formula was invented for a reason.
The Spare Tire – your new princess look
As hard as it is to realize that it took you 9 months to gain and stretch, it is really true. If you were fortunate enough to gain minimally then there is not as much of a spare tire, but the skin is just not “normal”. I have to remind myself that when your baby bump is growing into a big bump everything is stretching. The outside and inside. The six-pack I had was separated, which means it had to slowly come back together. The skin on the outside that was stretching and the fat tissue that was gained, has to decrease, which like everywhere else on our body, takes time. Again not only is weight loss difficult in itself, but with lack of sleep (which causes an increase in cortisol), this process is very difficult to speed up, which can also cause anxiety, frustration and depression.
If I can, lets stake a step back for a second and allow me to talk about a struggle I have had since I was literally in elementary. BODY IMAGE. I struggled with the disease of defeat and how I looked at myself in the mirror. Praise God, about 2 years ago, I was actually delivered from this disease, which is a huge reason why I love being a COACH and feel I can help, but there are times when the thoughts creep up on me. My first pregnancy was much harder for me regarding weight gain and body image. I struggled greatly with the way my body was changing. Although I saw a beautiful miracle happening before my eyes, I was also a bit disgusted with the way my body was changing. Especially the cellulite and growing thunder thighs I had just gotten rid of about 6 months before becoming pregnant. So needless to say much of my 1st pregnancy was spent selfishly not happy with my body and focusing on unnecessary things. My second pregnancy was much better as I continued to be healthy and fit, but the focus quite different. If anything I learned that with prayer, accountability and a personal commitment, I can feel healthy, be healthy and get my body back. I did it after my first and I WILL do it after my second.
Bowel, Bladder and Bleeding
Bowel issues with pregnancy, constipation being the most common, is pretty typically and can carry into postpartum. Hydration is likely the culprit here as well, but often times its also our diet as our bodies transition from being pregnant and feeding a growing baby. I found myself eating more or feeling more hungry when breastfeeding as well. Another problem that can directly effected by constipation is vaginal pain from an episiotomy. Some women need this to aid in their delivery and the last thing you want is to be constipated while you already have pain down there. Another area of discomfort is women with C-sections and surgical pain do not want to have to create more pain by bear down.
- Ways to help with constipation – hydration, high fiber diet (grapes, carrots, spinach, whole grains, Shakeology, stool softeners
Uncontrolled bladder is also another problem on the list of things people don’t tell you. Since your uterus sits on your bladder throughout the pregnancy it was stretched and the pressure contributed to frequency. During the delivery process, your bladder is even more pressed on and likely stretched. Since it is a muscle, it tends to lack in elasticity after the deliver which contributes to the inability to control urination or incontinence. This has been one of the hardest things for me even many months after delivery of my first son. Unfortunately there is not many things that can be done to help this.
Bleeding is another thing people don’t tell you about. That a large percentage of women have a very heavy and lengthy menstrual cycle. It seems as though you are making up for the 9 months you didn’t have one and this too is part of the inevitable process without anything to do about it.
Emotional instability is probably the most common of all the things spoken about that most women experience in the postpartum stages. These symptoms and their effects can last several months after delivery. Initially it is likely due to lack of sleep and hormonal adjustments, however, these emotional instabilities can lead to a more severe problem; depression. There are days you can’t remember anything, you don’t feel like you have any control, you know there are things that need to be done, but you just can’t do them, you don’t feel yourself and your body sure isn’t how you want it, and the list could go on. All of these things coupled with lack of sleep can send people over the edge.
- Things you can do to help your emotions – try to get as much sleep as possible, when released to exercise get up and move, take some time for yourself, speak to your OB if you feel your emotions are unstable, get a prayer or support group
For those reading this who do not have children, yet, hopefully I did not spoil the joy of having one, however I hope that you are now informed of the things that you are likely to experience after having your children. Unfortunately, BEING a postpartum princess is NOT on the list. For those who have had baby # 2, #3, etc… would likely report an array of things to look forward to, but I think knowing and being somewhat mentally prepared for all that is to come is very helpful.
I would like to emphasize learning as much as you can as well. I am aware that some people feel they do better going into things blindly, however preparation allows for options. If you are new at things, it is nice to know some options to try, especially if you get desperate.