The First Month Postpartum Unfiltered!! – detailed body changes, what I didn’t expect, photo diary…
The body truely is amazing! It spends 9 months not only growing a human but also rearranging all those organs, stretching your uterus, stomach and many other areas to support this humans growth and entrance into the world. So when the baby does exit its home in your tummy for the outside world, you have to expect your body to not look or feel like it use to for a while or possibly never again!
I started typing this at 5 week postpartum however then life became busy so here I am finishing it at 13 weeks PP. This however is an overview of my first month after giving birth to my first child.
Firstly as reference to my recovery process I had a natural vaginal birth with minor complications. I will be sharing my birth story in the near future with all the TMI details… but for now here is an overview on just the first 28 days.
The below is an open, unfiltered and real account of my experience with all the details in a hope to further normalise pregnancy, birth and postnatal recovery. Postnatal is not glamorous so feel free to opt out now before reading further!
1 Day Postpartum
It still hadn’t sunk in that we had this gorgeous little girl that was ours! We were on a high and full of energy despite no having slept in nearly 2 days. One thing I wasn’t expecting was how physically weak I was. From being able to walk 7 km just 3 days before to feeling like I had zero physical strength. I could not stand up on my own, was extremely dehydrated and bleeding a lot!! Due to my birth I had a catheter in so I did not have to worry about getting up to go to the bathroom and I waited until the end of the day to shower for the first time when a little of my strength returned. I also experienced extreme cramps for the first 3 days post birth due to my uterus contracting back down. The cramps felt similar to contractions and I had to use heat packs and a decent amount of paracetamol to ease the pain. No one told me this was a postpartum symptom!!!
My stomach was not what I expected! I certainly didn’t expect it to be anything like what it was prior to baby, but I suppose I expected it to look somewhat more like it did at 5-6 months pregnant. It did not! The skin became much darker on my stomach as it “condensed” (for lack of a better word). I think a lot of this was to do with the fact I had a decent European summer tan happening and then the stretched skin back to normal = super dark tan. While there was a 5-6 month pregnant size bump, the “bump” was a lot lower than that of when I was pregnant, yet much softer, less elastic and VERY wrinkly. Honestly it was like a deflated balloon. Internally it felt like there was a big whole in my tummy and that “space” was really delicate and fragile. I also had 2-3cm abdominal separation which I did expect due to having narrow hips so their was a lot of stretching on the abdominals out and up, particularly in my last month of pregnancy.
1 Day PP
4 Days Postpartum
Hello hormones and exploding boobs!!!
By this point I could stand and walk a little. When I say a little I mean max 100m at a very slow pace. I was still on that high with excitement and we had been home for a few days so had started to get into a tiny bit of a routine in our own surrounds. I still couldn’t pull myself up if I was leaning back in bed or on the couch which made breastfeeding challenging but I had my incredibly supportive husband helping with everything he could. On this day my milk came in. We were already having a number of challenges with breastfeeding, so adding excruciatingly painful boobs that leaked everywhere and suddenly grew a whole other cup size overnight + already cracked and blistering nipples, while also attending a wedding that afternoon (PS. I do not recommend this) wasn’t exactly pleasant.
Safe to say the next couple days were spent hibernating and just allowing hormones and milk supply to adjust. We were so blessed to have midwives visiting every couple days to check in and help me with the whole breastfeeding situation because to tell you the truth, I probably wouldn’t be breastfeeding still now despite my strong desire to do so if it wasn’t for that initial support in the first couple weeks.
With my overnight increase in chest size, also came overnight red stretch marks on the bottom of my boobs, despite all the oils, creams etc.. these line I have chosen to see as a tattoo of my breastfeeding journey and a reminder of how grateful I am to be able to breastfeed my child.
By day 4 my stomach and uterus area had decrease a little as the fluid and swelling started to settle. I was certainly still soft, wrinkly and weak and most the time hanging out in nothing but an adult maternity diaper. Weirdly I was very anti clothes- they all just felt too constrictive and with a newborn attached to my chest most the time, they were rather inconvenient. A big plus of the no clothes stage was all the skin on skin cuddles and bonding with bub.
We also decided to encapsulate my placenta (it was sterilised, freeze dried and encapsulated by a professional) so I was able to start taking these on day 3. Apparently I had a very large placenta (which made sense seeing I weighed ALOT during my pregnancy) which was great because we got 178 tables from it!
7 Days PP
The Following Few Weeks..
It was a much slower journey than I expected! I was told I could start very basic rehab exercises from 4 days postpartum but in reality it didn’t feel right in my body before 10 days PP! At this point I started just 5 minutes a day of rehab exercises to gain a little more connection to my core and pelvic floor again. To start with the only thing I could do was engage my core while lying down… and even that took SO much concentration. Every few days I started to see progress, weather that being able to walk for 8 minutes instead of 6 or being able to lift myself off the couch. This weakness I really did not expect seeing I was able to stay quite active during my whole pregnancy!
The first month after bub, I was also extremely thirst ALL the time. I couldn’t believe how much I was drinking- 6-7 L everyday!!!
The linear nigra (line down stomach) was still there 4 weeks PP. As was a lot of pigmentation around the belly button area.
Over the month as my physical strength grew, my boobs levelled out a bit (aka not exploding anymore, however still always leaking), I started to feel a lot more confident in my new role as a milk machine and the bleeding stopped at around 2 weeks PP. A new extreme sense of protectiveness was gained for my little bundle of life and I started to feel like I could really enjoy just being with her after the chaos of the initial visitor rush, appointments and the stress of our initial breastfeeding struggles. By the end of the first month we also had a newborn who slept through the night so we were well rested which I believe has been a huge part to do with the ease to my postpartum journey. I also feel the placenta tables helped greatly as I did fear of postpartum depression and I am so grateful to say I did not experience the slightest amount, where as pregnancy was a different story.
14 Days PP
During pregnancy I put on 18kg in total. After the birth I weighed 7kg less 1 day PP. Our baby weighed 3.7kg at birth. By 2 weeks PP I had lost another 3 kg of what I believe to be mostly inflammation and fluid and then stayed the same from here on. Actually I stayed 8kg over my pre pregnancy weight until 11 weeks PP and now at 13 weeks I am still 7kg over. I have never cared about numbers on the scales however from a professional point of view, I have found them incredibly interesting to track over this whole process. I believe when we just live “our” healthy and balanced lifestyle the body will find its perfect weight. This extra 7kg I believe is there to stay and support my breastfeeding journey and this just blows my mind at how instinctively smart our bodies are.
28 Days PP
My musts postpartum…
- Adult diapers
- Pre cooked meals. Focusing on warm, easy to digest foods. This aligns with the Ayurvedic principles of recovery.
- Limit visitors, be selfish with your space. They can see the baby many times later on. While we did do this, next time I want to enforce it 100% for the first few weeks. This time is essential to just bond and be settled as a little family.
- Nutritional support in the form of supplements
- A big drink bottle with high quality water.
- Breastfeeding support if needed ASAP
- Lots of trashy TV shows ready to binge on
- Nipple balm
- Good chocolate & local coffee
- A nourishing oil or balm to massage your breasts and tummy with
- The ability to let go of everyones ‘well meaning’ opinions and advise and just do what feels right for you and your baby. Your intuition is often the only guidances needed.