In a culture that considers anything bodily fluid-related to be poor cocktail chatter, it is no surprise that women often enter key life experiences, like their first period or pregnancy, totally blind. Much of that appears to be changing as leaders in the wellness space champion better education and normalize a more open dialogue among communities of women — from period coaching to post-childbirth preparation.
We support this move toward greater transparency in women’s health and — to celebrate Mother’s Day from a whole new angle — asked young mother of two, Denise Vasi of Maed to share seven things from her experience she wants new mothers to know that too often don’t get talked about. Remember, every body and every birth is different! Here’s Denise’s experience…
7 Truths New Moms Need to Know About Post-Birth Recovery
Most mamas-to-be spend a lot of time preparing for birth and for baby, but little time preparing themselves for the days and weeks after childbirth. Your body is recovering from the amazing feat of giving birth to a human being, your hormones are in flux, you’re emotionally drained, and life has changed in a huge way. On top of all that, you have a newborn to care for.
It’s a lot, and if you’re not prepared for it, it can take you by surprise.
Read this article and consider yourself prepared. We’re talking all the formerly taboo topics — poop , hemorrhoids, placentas and periods — this is what no one tells you about post-birth recovery….
Truth No. 1 Delivering the placenta is as painful, if not more painful, than delivering the baby.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a crucial part of childbirth and vital for mama’s health post-baby, but I was shocked to find out firsthand that getting the placenta out was less of a “passing through my body” kind of experience and more like laboring all over again.
There may be extreme cramping. There may be some bearing down, possible position changes(hello squats!) and your birthing team might end up having to go in, gently tug on the cord, and just take it out! If you end up having a C-section, the doctors will remove the placenta for you.
Truth No. 2 Two words: frozen padsicles
If you have a vaginal birth, your beautiful and hard-working honeypot (and her nearby besties) will be throbbing, sore, and swollen AF. The simple task of sitting up in bed can be frightening. Be prepared! A few weeks before your due date, DIY some cooling pain relief. Here’s how:
+ The giant, extra-long maxi pads (like, the kind your mom bought you when you first got your period)
+ 100% pure aloe vera gel
+ Witch hazel (alcohol-free—trust me on this)
Start with clean, sanitized hands. Unwrap 8–10 extra long maxi pads, but don’t remove the sticky backing until you’re ready to use them.
Place each pad in the center of a piece of aluminum foil, making sure you have enough foil to fold over and above the pad.
Apply aloe vera gel to the center of the pad, then use a clean spoon to spread the aloe vera all over it. Carefully pour witch hazel directly over the aloe vera. (Be careful not to over-saturate the sanitary pad; you still want it to be able to absorb any bleeding.)
Wrap the pad, covering it completely with the aluminum foil. Lay each aluminum foil wrapped pad on top of each other, then fold them into a wide ”U” curved shape. Think about how you would want them to hug your bottom’s front and back. They will freeze in this shape.
Throw in the freezer until you’re ready to use.
Aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory, so it will help soothe the pain and address the swelling. The witch hazel is not only anti-inflammatory, but also anti-viral. It will help relieve itchiness (yeah, you’re going to itch), fight bacteria, and handle any inflammation due to hemorrhoids (yes, you might get these too!).
Frozen Padsicles are easy to make and trust me, you’ll be super stoked you have them.
Truth No. 3: You’re about to sweat like a beast.
After birth, hormones may be soaring high, so don’t be too surprised when you wake up in the middle of the night drenched like you just walked out of a Rumble Boxing class. Keep a spare set of pajamas on your nightstand so you don’t have to go too far to change.
Truth No. 4: Aside from keeping a human being alive, your immediate number one fear after childbirth? Pooping!
It most likely won’t happen for a couple of days, but the anticipation over your first bowel movement makes it that much more terrifying. The thought of bearing down and pushing one more thing out of your sore and wounded body is scary, and that fear might lead you to hold.
Don’t hold! The sooner you can go, the better your chances are at avoiding constipation. Following an Ayurvedic postpartum diet will ensure a smooth first move.
Truth No. 5: Eat warm foods.
Your initial instinct might be to refuel with protein smoothies and green juices, but your digestive system is fragile, and giving birth can be a traumatic experience for your body. What most of us need postpartum is warm nourishment and easily digestible foods. I recently shared some of my personal favorite postpartum recipes on Maed!
Truth No. 6: Breastfeeding doesn’t always happen as easily as it looks on Instagram.
OK, maybe you’ve heard this one, but what you may not have heard is that there’s a lot of technique involved in breastfeeding. It took me five months to figure it out with my firstborn, and even though I breastfed her till she was nearly 2 years old, I still needed to bring in a lactation consultant to help when I gave birth to my son. There’s no shame in getting help!
Truth No. 7: Your period could come back in a few months. It could come back in a year.
It all depends on how long you breastfeed, how much you breastfeed, and how long it takes your hormones to normalize. (And sometimes, if you had a c-section, your period doesn’t come back at all.) If you don’t want to get pregnant again right away, remember that your fertile window comes a few weeks before your period, so even if you haven’t gotten your period yet, you still might be able to conceive.
Truth No 8: It’s so worth it.
The night sweats, the painful poops, the bleeding nipples—it’s kind of a horror show, but the unpleasantness is overshadowed by the love you have for your little one. In fact, knowing what to expect and preparing for it can make those first few weeks a lot sweeter. The only thing better than newborn snuggles is newborn snuggles while wearing a giant frozen maxi pad!