Alright, we all know you are going to have some BLEEDING in your postpartum life after you have a baby. Think of your placenta as a huge scab (gross, I know) on the inside of your uterus. We all know what happens when a scab is picked off, you start to bleed! Well, that is precisely what happens inside your uterus, after you deliver. Regardless of whether you have a vaginal delivery or a c-section, most women report vaginal bleeding for approximately 4-6 weeks post-delivery.
This post isn’t about the obvious, though. There were certainly a few STRANGE things (such as the postpartum chills!) that happened to my body after I had my son. Most of the time, these are either related to postpartum bleeding, or a change in hormones. But, if you’ve never had a baby before, they can definitely take you by surprise!
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Feeling cold: The postpartum chills
In the first few days of your postpartum life, you may feel extra cold and chilly. It was mid-February when I had my son, but I remember being bundled up at home in extra fluffy socks and a huge sweater.
The amount of blood loss you experience after you deliver may be to blame. The blood circulating through your veins is WARM, which is one way your body maintains its core temperature. When you lose a substantial portion of that blood, you have a decrease in your entire systemic circulation, which results in a decrease in your body temperature. This can result in you feeling a bit colder, because your circulation isn’t as great as it was pre-delivery.
Our bodies do a great job of actually creating an extra storage of blood during pregnancy, in anticipation of the blood loss you will face during delivery. In fact, some women experience up to a 50 percent increase in blood volume during pregnancy. Blood loss is still blood loss, and even with the additional blood your body has stored, many women are symptomatic.
Looking for some postpartum self-care? Check out this article from ThinkBaby.org!
On the other hand, instead of feeling chilly, you may be filling buckets of sweat! Because you have so much more blood and fluid circulating through your body while pregnant, once you deliver this extra liquid must go somewhere. Some of it, as I’ve said, you’ll lose at delivery, but the rest will come out of you as either urine or sweat.
You are also loaded up with extra IV fluids when you come to the hospital or birth center to deliver, so this compounds the problem even more. Actually, don’t be surprised if when you leave the hospital your feet are a bit more puffy than they were pre-delivery. No worries though, most women find that in about a week, their swelling decreases dramatically.
Related: Losing weight while breastfeeding
Feeling your heart race
This is another symptom you may feel in those first few days home from the hospital. Also due to the loss of blood, tachycardia (an increase in your heart rate) is common post-delivery. Because the blood capacity of your circulatory system is lower, your heart pumps a bit faster to compensate for the decrease in volume. Many women report feeling their hearts race more so when changing positions or changing temperatures quickly (getting out of a hot shower). If you experience light-headedness or dizziness, take a break and sit down. While this is common, it’s important to bring up to your doctor.
Postpartum hair loss
During pregnancy, you may realize that your hair changes texture, grows faster, or falls out less (and this isn’t just on your head!). This is due to a dramatic increase in progesterone, which extends the growth phase of your hair, causing these changes. Once you deliver, however, your hair cycle regresses, and many of these hairs your body was holding onto shed. For most women, this usually happens 2-3 months after delivery, or longer for breastfeeding moms.
Unfortunately, sometimes this hair loss can be dramatic, coming out in clumps in the shower or on your brush. I used to joke that I never had to use Drano in our shower while I was pregnant, but a few months after I delivered, I was using it a few times a month!
Related: Why hire a postpartum doula?
Ok, I’m sorry but this needs to be brought up! You will smell different after you have a baby. It happens to almost every woman, regardless of whether you have a vaginal delivery or a c-section.
In a normal menstrual cycle (every month), your uterus grows a lining, and sheds if implantation of a fertilized egg does not occur (this is your period). Well, this particular time, you never had that shedding. You grew a baby. So, unlike a regular period, postpartum bleeding is a bit different because this blood has been inside of you for 9 months.
And it’s going to smell horrible when it comes out of you.
There’s not much you can do, other than frequent hygiene, to help this issue. Change your pad a lot, take lots of showers (no baths), and prepare for the worst (jk, it’s really not that bad). 😉
You may have heard horror stories about “the first poop” after you have a baby. Yep, they are true. It can be very difficult, and very painful using the bathroom for the first time, but there are things you can do to help make it a bit easier. One tried but true method is making sure you are taking plenty of stool softeners from day 1. My personal favorite is Colace.
Another helpful tip: GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME. Don’t rush it, and no pushing! That will make things 100 times worse.
Also, water. Water fixes everything!
If you find yourself immensely constipated, and you’ve been sitting there for awhile, a glycerin suppository will almost always do the trick. They are super easy to use, and work like a charm!
And hold up! If you are still pregnant and having constipation issues, check out this article for some relief.
Related: Postpartum recovery tips
Related: Postpartum depression tips
Along with having trouble using the bathroom, you may find yourself having rectal pain from time to time in the first few weeks postpartum. This may be due to a few different things.
Hemorrhoids are just as common during pregnancy, as they are in the postpartum period. A hemorrhoid is a swollen/inflamed vein in your rectum that sometimes protrudes out a bit from your bottom. It can leave you with pain, itchiness and even some bleeding. Tucks pads, stool softeners, or good ole’ Preparation H can help.
Another type of rectal pain you may experience (that I personally had) can be due to pelvic shifting that occurs as your uterus is shrinking. This will come out of nowhere and feel like very sharp pelvic pressure. The best thing to do is to avoid being constipated, because that can make these pains way worse!
This is more common if you’ve had a C-section, but after delivery you may have gas bubbles that get trapped inside your abdomen. If you’ve ever had any type of abdominal surgery, you know what I’m talking about. These bubbles can travel up your chest, and actually give you so much discomfort that you feel like you are having a heart attack! Gas-X can help break up some of that air, and relieve the discomfort.
Bonus (if you really wanna call it that)….#8
Yuck, no one likes to feel itchy down there. If you’ve had a vaginal tear from birth (which are very common), your doctor/midwife will stitch you up with dissolvable sutures at delivery. These take some time to completely dissolve, but as they dissolve you may feel a bit itchy down there. It’s important to bring this up to your doctor, but if you are experiencing this after delivery with no odd discharge (this may signify a yeast infection), it’s most likely just your sutures.
What other odd changes have you discovered about your postpartum body? Tell me in the comments, I want to know! 😊
Happy Postpartum Life! 🙂