This post is all about surprising postpartum symptoms.
Surprising Postpartum Symptoms
You’re Not Expecting
How little we hear from our healthcare providers and other mamas about postpartum versus how big and often hard of an experience it can be is mindboggling to me. Everyone focuses on you while you’re pregnant and it seems like once you give birth it’s all about the baby. So let’s talk about some rather surprising postpartum symptoms that you might experience, yet are not expecting.
I feel like my understanding of postpartum prior to having my baby compared to my actual experience was quite different. I was interested in the female body, pregnancy, and all that for a while, so I did read and hear about postpartum being called the 4th semester, I heard about baby blues, postpartum depression, diastasis recti, and so on. However, I feel like I’ve experienced more of what I didn’t hear of vs what I did hear of.
The first six weeks after giving birth are called the postpartum period. The first 12 weeks are referred to as the 4th trimester.
You might feel like your best self and return to your regular lifestyle, being intimate included, sooner. Most likely, however, your body and mind will need more than six weeks to heal and adapt.
That is especially true if you’re breastfeeding. In that case, you might get your period way later and won’t fully have your body and lifestyle back until you stop breastfeeding, which can take several months, a year, or even several years.
Moreover, you need to be gentle with yourself as you’ll need more care than others might offer. Everyone, whether it’s doctors or family members, focuses on your well-being while you’re pregnant, cause obviously, your body is going through a lot. Yet I feel like there is not enough emphasis on supporting a woman and her healing body after she gives birth.
Postpartum symptoms most women know about:
- Vaginal bleeding called lochia
- Engorged breasts
- Body aches and fatigue
- Diastasis recti
- Baby blues
Related blogs you’ll want to check out next:
- All You Need To Know And Have For The First Weeks With Your Newborn (Postpartum & Breastfeeding Tips Included!)
- 50 Pregnancy Affirmations
- 6 Mindsets That Will Help You Look Forward To Labor
Surprising Postpartum Symptoms You’re Not Expecting
Which Are Actually Common
I didn’t hear about postpartum night sweats, I guess at all or if I did I had no idea how intense that can really get. I was so surprised when after a few days or more like 2 weeks after delivery I started to sweat, well, profoundly at night.
Belly bulge for longer than expected
Before giving birth I did see pictures of women’s bellies after delivery and so I knew that I will still have a bulge after giving birth. However, I’ve seen other women losing that round, rather big, and squishy belly within the first few weeks. That was not the case for me.
The way my belly looked after delivery stayed the same size for at least a week and then started to get smaller very, very slowly. I actually had the bulge-looking belly for several weeks and was told I don’t have diastasis recti. Then it slowly started to get smaller and I’d say around 12 weeks postpartum the round bulge was gone and I was left with a squishy, let’s just say a rather unfit-looking belly. I didn’t have “abs” prior but I did have a rather flat stomach with visibly toned obliques.
I never pressured myself to look a certain way postpartum and promised myself to accept my body however it will look after delivery, so this wasn’t something that put me down, but nonetheless, it was really surprising to me.
With all that being said, I just want to encourage you to please be patient and gentle with yourself and let your body do its thing! If you’re determined to get in shape after baby, that is absolutely ok and I believe you can totally do that! Just give yourself time to heal, recover, adapt, and accept the new you before diving into or rather pressuring yourself into a diet or rigorous exercise routine. And make sure to consult any worries or workout plans with your gynecologist and preferably a postnatal physiotherapist.
Once you know about it it makes sense, yet it’s not something most women expect or hear about from their doctors prior to giving birth.
Postpartum cramps are caused by your uterus that is shrinking to its normal size. This will intensify during breastfeeding due to the hormones that are released.
What’s happening down there
I read or heard before giving birth the advice of not looking in the mirror to see what your stitching (if you had any) and private area, in general, look like until at least a few weeks after. And you know what one does when advised not to…
Let me tell you, I expected a total massacre. But to my surprise, everything looked well, “normal” and the stitches were as good as invisible.
Yes, your pelvic floor might need some extra patience and exercises, but it is not true that all women have difficulties holding their pee once they have given birth. In the first weeks, probably yes, but it doesn’t mean it will stay that way.
I was also positively surprised by how medium to light the bleeding following delivery was. Yes, it lasted for weeks, but it was not as crazy heavy as I’ve been told it would be. In my case, it was like a light period, just that it did last a couple of weeks.
A quite common symptom yet not often talked about is prolapse. This basically means that one or more organs in your pelvic area drop lower, out of their normal position.
“The symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include pelvic pain, abdominal discomfort and pressure in the vagina. Most notably, you may feel a sensation that something is bulging or protruding into or past the vaginal canal.” – Pelvic Pain Doc
This might sound scary, but what’s even scarier is to feel and/or see a bulge in your vaginal opening, feel discomfort and pressure and then google it and freak out. Knowing that this can happen and can be treated (or it might go back to normal by itself after several months) should put you a bit at ease.
There are several kinds and “levels” of prolapse and I’m in no position to go into details about them. I just want you to be aware of the fact that it can happen, and I advise you to not look up your prolapse symptoms at 2 AM in panic, but rather to consult your doctor or (postnatal) physiotherapist and get all the answers, support, and treatment that you need.
Feeling emotional even after a positive birth experience
I’m not talking about baby blues or postpartum depression, but rather about feeling emotional while reflecting on your birth experience.
No matter what you wanted your birth to look like and how much of that came to be, you might feel very emotional about your experience.
Even if you were fine with the delivery going anyway it had to and were able to accept the way it was, parts of you might still feel disappointed about certain aspects of it.
Giving birth is such an intense and vulnerable experience, where I believe it’s close to impossible to have everything go your way, have everyone do and say what you’d wish they would, and so on.
No matter how positive your birth experience was, how close to your initial birth plan it turned out to be, and how grateful you are for your child, it’s ok to still feel sad or upset about parts of your birth story.
You were in your most vulnerable state. You might have felt scared, or like your wishes and needs were not being fully heard and met and so it’s absolutely normal to feel emotional when recalling the delivery, regardless of how overall positive your experience was.
Make sure you don’t bury those thoughts and feelings, thinking you don’t have the right to feel that way because others say your delivery was fast or “easy” or because you know someone who had serious complications. Your feelings and your experience are valid. Talk to your partner, talk to your midwife, doctor, or therapist. Get it off your chest, cry it out, grieve, and journal.