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What They Don’t Tell You about the Postpartum Experience

Every woman’s postpartum experience is different, and there are side-effects of giving birth that no one talks about. It’s time to break the stigma and be honest about the not-so-nice realities of giving birth.

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Just a warning: It’s going to get a little TMI, but motherhood is graphic, and I don’t hold anything back when it comes to moments that blow my mind. There’s all sorts of books on what to expect and the joys of motherhood, but few dare to mention the horrors that come with. Of course, with every pregnancy being different, who can tell you what’s coming for you?

I know after talking with other moms that, while some post-partum experiences were common, others were unique to the individual and their pregnancy. These are the experiences that I had, and I wish there had been a warning label somewhere.

  • Peeing was the worst – For those lucky women with no stitches, this may not have been an issue. For me, with so many stitches that the doctor refused to say how many, peeing was awful. I still sing praises of the tiny quirt bottle they gave me at the hospital, because it’s the only way I managed. Also, it took me 30 patient minutes of sitting on the toilet to officially relief myself post-birth, much to the annoyance of the nurse. She threatened a catheter and I told her that was not happening. Handled it.
  • Pooping was even more terrifying – I got lucky here, but it was still scary. God bless Louis, who I insisted join me in the bathroom for moral support. Thanks to stool softeners and plenty of water and juice, everything went just fine. Unfortunately, I know many women who have suffered through hemorrhoids, so you’re not alone if that’s the case!
  • Uterus contractions post-birth – Breastfeeding has many benefits, and people say that it slims you down a bit. Not because you’re burning calories, but hormones are secreted that encourage the uterus to shrink back to normal size. For me, these contractions were agonizing. Every time Hallie nursed for at least the first week I had the pleasant experience of feeling like I was giving birth again. What. The. Crap.
  • Night sweats – For the first week or two I was home, I would wake up randomly in the middle of the night dripping in sweat. I’m not talking a tough work-out sweat, I’m talking – change my clothes and put a towel down because I can’t be bothered to change the sheets – sweat. Talk about a hot flash.
  • Speaking of hormones – Louis thought I was “sensitive” before Hallie was born, but after, he was in for a ride. I spent many moments clutching Hallie and asking Louis how we were supposed to protect her from this cruel world, and how I just wanted to put her back in my uterus where she was safe. Tears would be streaming down my face, and he would just hug me until I could be reasoned with. Post-partum is a real roller coaster.
  • Breastfeeding in general – I can’t speak about bottle-feeding, which has its own challenges, but I can tell you that if you choose to breastfeed you will discover many amazing things about the human body. Regulating milk is fun, for example. If Hallie was 15 minutes past her usual schedule, a let-down would strike and my shirt would be soaked with milk. Oh, and my let-downs felt as if I was being sucker-punched in the boob every time. I hear the sensation is different for everyone, but that was mine. And if Hallie dared sleep for more than a few hours at night, I would wake up in a puddle of my own milk. Good times.

I also want to mention post-partum depression. I didn’t experience this, but many women do. It is a very normal post-birth experience, and it’s a shame that it’s stigmatized. We are bringing life into this world, and tearing our own bodies apart to do so. I’m not surprised that some of us carry a few more scars than others. If you feel like you’re struggling with depression, you’re not alone. Please seek help. You are a good mom, and caring for yourself is not wrong. You can’t fill other’s cups when your own is empty.

What was your postpartum experience like? What do you wish you would have known?

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