Postpartum Reality

By: Tanya Pimental

My baby is a month old already.  It is hard to imagine just a few short weeks ago she was nestled inside and I was imagining life with her in our family.  She has been a wonderful baby and aside from the lack of sleep, I am feeling well.  Even though this is my third time going through this process, I somehow have forgotten the tougher parts about life with a newborn.

Whether you are having your first or adding a sibling to the mix, postpartum reality is hard to grasp before you are there. You read the books and talk with your care provider to prepare but somehow it doesn’t quite all set in. Not everyone will experience these things and you may have your own list to share, but here are the things I have experienced postpartum that are less than glamorous.  It’s likely you won’t sit around with your fellow mommies and chat about these and instead, as you should, you will ooh and aah over that new little one in your life.

Night Sweats – This usually passes after the first week.  You will wake up and be freezing. Your body will be drenched in sweat of course and you’ll likely want to change your night cloths.  The best thing I could do was to sleep in less and have a robe handy to throw on when I got up with the baby.  My body temperature was all over the place and it’s not fun.

You Smell Bad – With all the hormones and the sweating, you just don’t smell good.  Even showering every day, I found that I had an odor. Hopefully others notice this less.  The reality is that your body is healing and the process can sometimes be stinky.

Hemorrhoids – I think a lot of people assume these happen from pushing and while that is in part true, even those who have a caesarian section may experience hemorrhoids. They vary in discomfort and duration.  Mine were actually the worst this third time around.  But they healed quickly enough.  I had a few days where the thought of sitting was painful.

Sore Breasts – Not all women choose to breastfeed, but I have breastfed all my babies.  I could share a whole post on my struggles and triumphs.  But I’ll simply say that the first few weeks, stepping out in the cold or having your toddler hug you tight is not comfortable.  I’d go as far to say that it feels like someone is scrapping sand paper across your chest and then punching you like you just played a good game.  It’s quite an adventure learning how to feed your newborn and teaching them how to do it right and do it well.  And let me remind you to keep breast pads handy because that tingling let down will happen when you least expect it and you’ll be left with wet circles on your shirt.

Hair Loss – I didn’t notice this the first time until it started to grow back and I found these two patches at the crown of my head with these little wispy hairs growing in.  It happens in the same spot for me each time and the growing it out is the worst part.  Others lose hair significantly and notice it when showering and such.  I am fortunate enough to have a pretty full head of hair.

Appetite/Thirst – Postpartum, I live on chocolate chip cookies.  I know I should be reaching for an apple, but for some reason when I have a baby I develop a sweet tooth for a few months.  All of a sudden you may notice you are incredibly thirsty or hungry.  I literally drank 32 ounces of water the other night in 30 seconds.

Emotional Rollercoaster – Don’t be alarmed if a simple hug brings tears to your eyes or if one moment you seem fine and in control, but then you suddenly lose it and lash out.  It’s completely normal to experience highs and lows for weeks or months after having a baby.

The good news is that you forget all these things after a few months.  And whether you have one baby or a dozen, each experience may differ, but the good news is that you’ll get through it and feel more like yourself.  Maybe those sleepless nights are actually to help us forget.  Just try to remember you need to rest and heal.  I know that I have a hard time remembering this and need to often just sit and let the chores go undone.  It’s all easier said than done.

4 thoughts on “Postpartum Reality

  1. Oh, the hair thing! I lost full guinea pigs worth of my thick hair in the tub and elsewhere. drove hubby crazy. Thus, I made a bit of a tradition. After each pregnancy, I cut and donated my hair to Pantene or Locks of Love. No need for it it all to go down the drain that way! It could bring smiles to others.

  2. I have seen my wife’s postpartum experiences. And hair loss is one of the women’s health that concerns me. Though I know it is part of the postpartum realities, I find it so annoying seeing hair around the house. However, working with my wife in raising our child is just so great. The feeling of happiness is just incomparable.

  3. Wow, Tanya, thanks for this relatable and honest account of what you’ve been through. You look amazing and have a beautiful family, so it’s nice to see there is a very happy outcome.

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