If you’re an expecting mom-to-be, you’ve heard it all – that you’ll never get enough sleep, that you’ve never loved anything as much as you’ll love your baby and that even the most modest non-mom loses all of her modesty during labor. Most postpartum advice givers focus on the baby or the bigger picture. Even your best friend, who was just ahead of you on mom train, didn’t properly prepare you for the full post-labor picture.
Here are a few glimpses into the physical side of being a brand new mom and what no one tells you about the postpartum body:
You’ll be in pain
The physical pain doesn’t end when your contractions stop. Whether you opt for ‘the drugs’ or not, your body is about to go through trauma. If you have a caesarean birth, you’ll be recovering from surgery and if you spend any time pushing (many moms who end up having a c-section start with every intention to give a vaginal birth and spend some time pushing), you’ll be recovering from what will feel like an Olympic-level athletic event. Think about when you last helped your friend move and, the next day, you’re sore in places that you didn’t know existed. Now multiply that tenfold and throw in a mixed bag of emotions and that pretty much sums up how you’ll feel the day after labor and for the next few days.
You might breakout like a preteen
You’ve had months to grow this baby and your body and hormones have gradually changed along the way but because you go from pregnant to not pregnant so (relatively) suddenly, postpartum hormone shifts can hit you like a ton of bricks. You might find blemishes on your face, chest, shoulders or even back. Sometimes they come as a wave and then disappear after your body regulates but for others, a new and less-desirable complexion might stick around for months. If you want a fix, work with a knowledgeable esthetician who is familiar with which products and chemicals are safe while nursing.
Your joints are still loose
You’ve probably heard of the hormone, relaxin, during pregnancy and how you should be careful not to overstretch while expecting. This hormone helps loosen up the body for labor and although that’s only necessary in the ligaments of the pelvis and during labor, joints all over your body have a little more slack and this can last from the moment you get pregnant until six months postpartum or until you wean the little one from the boob. What’s the big deal, now you’ll just do all of the yoga poses you’ve been dreaming of, right? Wrong. If you overstretch a joint, it doesn’t go back the way a muscle does and might never be the same.
Your hair can fall out faster than you can pull it out
If you are one of the lucky ladies that get a luscious, full-bodied head of hair during pregnancy, run to the nearest mall to take some glamour shots now! And buy some Draino on your way home. Again, blame it on hormones. Since hormone levels change dramatically right after birth, you might start noticing strand on your clothing and in the shower right away, especially if you aren’t breastfeeding. If you are nursing, you might get a few more months of volume.
Your body will amaze you
Although most of these changes seem like they’re for the worse, you will often stare at your baby and not believe that they were just curled up inside of you or that your amazing body actually helped create and grew a human. Most babies drop a little weight right after birth so you will be even more fascinated to think that a baby bigger than the one you’re holding in the first week or two was in your body. No matter what you’ll look or feel like in the early weeks, you’ll know it was worth it and you might even do it again sometime.