Let’s cut right to the chase - Drs. Alicia and Sarah have compiled a list of 6 things no one tells you about postpartum! Tune in to learn more about what to expect from the unexpected (yet all perfectly normal)! And follow the links they reference below for more related resources, guides, and tips.
At about three months postpartum, most people actually notice losing their hair. This is because during pregnancy, the hair has actually paused its normal growth and shedding cycling and it's just getting back to its typical pattern postpartum! Within about three to six months postpartum, your hair should go back to its normal cycle, but it can seem alarming as it may come out in clumps. But don’t worry - this is just hair you normally would have shed if the process wasn’t paused during pregnancy. Consider using a volumizing shampoo or getting a haircut that may make your hair appear fuller.
Hair loss may also occur due to hypothyroidism (or low thyroid) or low iron stores. If these are conditions you may be prone to, make sure to continue taking any prescribed medication or supplements to support the rebalancing of these hormones, and consider getting some bloodwork done about six to twelve weeks postpartum to verify your stores.
Hair Tourniquet: sometimes it's so hard to determine why your baby is crying - and it can be as delicate as a hair getting wrapped around their finger or toe! While this is not a cause for huge concern, it can cause the digit to get red and swollen and cause the baby discomfort. Do a once daily check for any loose hairs on baby’s body and try to minimize hair shedding around them.
Your uterus is an amazing organ. It’s a big muscle that is approximately the size of your fist before pregnancy, that grows to encompass and hold your baby, and then push it out! But contrary to popular belief, after delivery it doesn’t simply “bounce back” to its pre-pregnancy size. It takes time to shift, readjust and contract, causing the feeling of postpartum contractions. The hormone oxytocin released during labour is also present while breastfeeding or pumping (or even when seeing a cute baby!), so contractions and increased bleeding are also normal while doing these activities. The contractions can range from pretty mild to quite painful, getting more so with each subsequent pregnancy, and often extract any remaining blood in the uterus. It is safe to take anti-inflammatory painkiller medication if you are experiencing discomfort during this time. The uterus takes about four to six weeks to get back to its pre-pregnancy size.
Night sweats are a very common phenomenon postpartum due to the rapidly decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body, which drop from their very high levels during pregnancy, right after delivery. These night sweats can be rather dramatic, soaking through sheets and making sleeping an uncomfortable experience! Consider sleeping on some towels to absorb the moisture, moisture wicking sheets, keeping the bedroom at a cool temperature, or sleeping in very lightweight sleepwear. You may also notice a change in your body odour at this time, which is a natural change that helps your baby sense your presence. You may also be experiencing the odour as more pungent as your sense of smell may also be heightened at this time. Neither of these are a cause for alarm.
Around day two postpartum, you will notice that your breasts are very large and engorged as your milk production really kicks in, and with this enlargement often comes some breast leakage. We recommend using breast pads to soak up some of that leakage, and you can find some of our recommended products on our free Postpartum Checklist download! Simply put them in your nursing bra to collect that overflowing liquid. You may also notice that while you’re feeding or pumping on one breast, the other will also excrete milk, so consider using a milk collecting system to collect all of that valuable milk!
Oftentimes, especially after a more difficult or complex delivery and even after cesarean section, the muscles that surround your perinatal floor have been torn. We recommend that you stay super well hydrated, drinking enough water so that your urine is light yellow to clear, eating high fiber foods, and taking a regular, Peg stool softener, such as RestoraLAX or MiraLAX. When sitting on the toilet, it can help to use a stool so that your knees are at level with your hips or higher, and even use a washcloth with some warm water to support your perineum. And don’t forget to use a peri bottle regularly to keep any stitches down there clean and hygienic! We have included some of these great and useful postpartum products in our pregnancy and postpartum Nesting Boxes you can check out here!
It can take some people a while for their stomach muscles to contract back down to their pre-pregnancy size and that is perfectly fine and normal! One thing to keep an eye on however, can be diastasis, which is when your abdominal muscles separate at the midline. Diastasis is a normal part of pregnancy, and for most people those abdominal muscles reattach back in the midline postpartum. But if by around six to eight weeks postpartum they are still not back in their pre-pregnancy position or do not feel in the right spot, consider seeing a pelvic physiotherapist. Check out our podcast on Diastasis Recti in Pregnancy with Kim Vopni - The Vagina Coach!
For more information on some of the topics touched above, check out our podcast on Diastasis Recti in Pregnancy with Kim Vopni - The Vagina Coach and Postpartum Pelvic Floor Recovery with Mel Desaulles from MommyBerries. Or sign-up for her course From the Inside Out: Postpartum Recovery using this coupon for 15% off: shefoundmotherhood!
Download our FREE Postpartum Checklist with our recommendations of products and very handy things to have for the postpartum period. While you’re at it, check-out our She Found Motherhood Amazon Store with links to some of these great products! Many of them are also found in our Nesting Boxes - a trimester specific subscription box filled with our favourite pregnancy, postpartum, and newborn items!
Taking you from anxious and overwhelmed to confident during your childbirth experience: