5 Postpartum Symptoms No One Talks About
Nothing can quite prepare you for having a new baby, especially when it’s your first. There are moments you never forget: the birth (obvi), the first time you try to breastfeed (if that’s your thing), the first time baby looks you in the eyes, and the moment you get into your car to head home from the hospital. Sh*t just got real!
And then, you’re home, and you’re kinda like …“What do I do now?!”
Those first few days home were a total blur for me. Lacey was born the night before Thanksgiving, so my entire family was there waiting for us when we got home from the hospital—my mom, dad, twin brothers, and one of their fiancés. Before I had the baby, I thought this would terrify me. In actuality, it was so comforting having everyone there. My mom ended up staying for ten days and was the biggest help in the world. I literally didn’t change a diaper and was able to focus on feeding Lacey and sleeping when I was able to.
Things were quite cheery for a few days, and then the total exhaustion set in, as did the wacky postpartum symptoms most women experience but no one tends to discuss. Since many of my followers and readers are pregnant or have a new little at home, I thought I’d share them with you so you can feel a bit more prepared than I did! And get a good laugh out of my stories. :)
(Side note: the fourth trimester is a real thing. This book really helped me get through it!)
1. Night Sweats
Oh my goodness. I knew there would be a serious drop in my hormone levels once I had the baby, but little did I know that sweating as if I ran a marathon would be a symptom of the decreasing hormone levels. For the first week or so after Lacey was born, I pretty much soaked my sheets every night. I would wake up with sweat between my boobs and on the back of my neck, and my sheets would be drenched. My mom would have to come in and undo my bed every single morning!
Along with those night sweats came a serious stench, even after I showered. Hormones are no joke, ladies! To this day, Ryan, my mom, and I laugh hysterically when we think about how stinky I was. I remember breastfeeding Lacey and my mom and Ryan walking into the room and saying, “What’s that smell?!”, only to walk closer and realize it was me.
So yeah…you may stink. But it’s all good, because you just gave birth and everyone is enamored with you in that moment. Enjoy it!
2. Granulation Tissue
This doesn’t happen to everyone, but it’s more common than I initially realized. If you get grossed out easily, skip this one. When you tear in your perineum, regardless if you tore naturally (which I did) or had an episiotomy, you get stitched back up. Sometimes the stitches don’t line up correctly, and tissue can pop out from the stitches and live on the outside of the perineum.
It will look like a red bump. Sometimes, if the tissue is small enough, it will go away on its own. If it’s a larger piece of tissue, you will probably have to get it cauterized, which basically means burnt off with silver nitrate. I had mine cauterized three (YES, THREE) times and it finally went away. I was still in pain seven weeks postpartum and realized I had granulation tissue, so if this is you, rest assured that I know how uncomfortable it is. An added bonus (but not really)? The tissue won’t heal if you’re nursing. There’s not enough estrogen in your body to be able to take care of this on its own. As my doctor put it, your perineum looks and acts as if it’s in menopause because you’re not producing oodles of estrogen at the moment, so the healing process is nonexistent or slow.
Damn. But I am proof that it does get better!
3. Insane Hunger (If you’re breastfeeding…)
Feeding a baby is no joke, whether or not you decide to breastfeed. My life revolves around Lacey’s feeding schedule, and as much as I try to get out of the house almost every day at this point, it’s not always possible. I have 1.5-2 hours between her feedings at most, and right now, feeding her is my #1 job.
I had heard that breastfeeding would make me hungry and thirsty, but I had no idea how extreme those desires could become. I felt like I was doing an hour HIIT workout during and after every breastfeeding session. Having a baby during the holidays was really tough on my body, because when the hunger would strike, I wasn’t grabbing green smoothies. I was grabbing cake, cookies, chocolate, and anything sweet I could get my hands on.
In fact, I gained more weight from my crappy postpartum diet than I did from being pregnant (in terms of fat and not counting weight necessary to gain for the baby). The weight I have left to lose is not baby weight, it’s breastfeeding hunger weight leftover from the holidays!
My advice? Have plenty of healthy snacks on hand all over the house or wherever you’re breastfeeding. I would have organic spelt pretzels in Lacey’s room and raw cashews in my room. They were so helpful when I needed a snack mid-feed. And ALWAYS make sure you have water on hand! Super important to replenish yourself all day long.
And by the way…I don’t feel guilty about it. I enjoyed every bite of Jacque Torres cookies and red velvet cake I indulged in!
4. Marriage Blues
Ok, so this isn’t really a symptom…but I wanted to talk about it nonetheless. Keeping your marriage on track with a new baby at home is no easy feat. The mother is exhausted, the father is trying not to make the situation worse, and the baby is crying. AHHH!
Ryan has been extremely helpful since day one. He and my mom took care of cleaning and diaper changes for the first ten days we were home with the baby. And even now that we’re in a groove and he feels comfortable at home alone with Lacey, he’s constantly pushing me to go out and enjoy drinks with friends (which I definitely take him up on!).
That doesn’t mean we haven’t had our tough moments. We slept in separate rooms for the first months Lacey was home for several reasons, but mainly because Ryan has narcolepsy and his health couldn’t withstand the night feeds or pumping sessions. We missed our connection dearly, and now that Lacey is four months old and we’re able to sneak in some sexy time again, we’re feeling much better.
Having a baby brings you closer in certain ways. You get to see your partner in a whole new light, and it is the most endearing feeling in the world. But for the most part, it’s really hard, regardless of how strong your marriage is. Know that the first few months are difficult, but it does get better, especially once you're able to stack on hours of sleep. If mom’s job is to take care of the baby, dad’s job is to take care of mom. That’s how we look at it, and it’s really helped!
5. Loss of Muscle Tissue
I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I played sports year round as a kid and lacrosse in college. Once I graduated, I missed being competitive, so I started running half marathons. I’ve continued to be pretty active ever since.
Having a baby really did a number on my body in many ways, as you discovered above. One that I figured would happen but was still shocked by was the loss of muscle tissue throughout my body. I remember looking in the mirror one day and saying to my husband, “I lost my butt!” My abs were obviously gone (or at least hiding under my baby belly), but so were my arm muscles, and most notably as a runner, my leg muscles. I also wasn’t able to exercise until later than most because of my difficult recovery, and as the weeks went on, I slowly watched my muscle tissue diminish.
This obviously will transform as time goes on and I’m able to workout more and more, but I wanted to give you the heads up because it was something I was not completely prepared for! It’s nearly impossible to maintain any level of fitness as a new mom in those first few months, and accepting this fact is much easier than fighting it. My body will never be the same, and I’m okay with it, because I did something incredible in the process!
Hope this list made you giggle if you have littles and you're reminiscing or helped you feel a bit more prepared if you have a babe on the way. Oh, and the best “symptom” I experienced was incredible joy. Being a mom is hard, but it’s also full of joyful moments that make the entire process worth it, even when things are really, really tough.