37 Post-Partum Surprises (What I Wished I Knew as a FTM)


So, you did it! You finally pushed that baby out, congratulations! Enjoy every minute of your babymoon. Inhale that intoxicatingly sweet newborn scent. Marvel at her teeny tiny toes or his precious little pouty lips. Put every little grunt and squeaky sound they make into a place forever to remain in your memory. Watch your baby’s eyelashes flutter as she dreams, and treasure each little sleepy spontaneous grin.

Getting to know your baby is one of the most magical times of your life.

Okay, enough with the foofy stuff. Everyone knows all of the above is true and wonderful. But what about everything ELSE that happens after you have a baby? My best friend was here for the birth of my third, precious Penelope. She has never been around a newborn before, or really even been around someone who was pregnant. Her lack of knowledge of the birthing process sparked the idea for this post. There were so many things she had questions about, and so many things she said that surprised her about my experience (especially afterwards) with Penny. Honestly, it is almost like the moms of the past have kept secrets from us! Before I had my first, no one dared ever to speak of the reality of post-partum recovery. I was totally blindsided after I gave birth to her. For your reading pleasure, here is a small glimpse into the dark side of the aftermath of having a baby.

(You may not want to continue further if frank talk about bodily fluids and things of that nature gross you out easily. Keep in mind, I am a mama who has vaginally birthed 3 babies. One with an epidural, one med-free with a couple of interventions, and one med-free and intervention free at home. I can imagine the trials post-partum after a c-section have their own qualified list of surprises, but I have no experience to talk about them. To add a bit of c-section mama love, I polled my mommy group for their first-hand experiences and opinions on all styles of birthing.)

  1. At first, there will be blood. A lot of blood. Think shark attack or massacre.
  2. Delivering the placenta after the baby can vary from simple, to a whole big process. Sometimes it has to be helped out. Not fun.
  3. Your dr or midwife might have to push hard on your newly unpregnant belly to squish blood out. It may not feel great. Ugh.
  4. Afterpains (your uterus contracting to shrink down again) can be worse than labor, especially for subsequent babies.
  5. Standing up after birth will feel bizzare. Like your guts are floating around inside you.
    (Oh wait, they are.)
  6. Your belly will wiggle like a bowl of jelly.
  7. Remember how many phone calls and texts you got asking how you were feeling? Or how many people wanted to see pregnant photos? Or open doors for you? Or tell you how glowy you looked? All of that is in the past. You are now invisible.
  8. You may not have the muscle tone after birth to even control whether or not you fart. Much less pee or poop.
  9. That’s where sneeze-peeing comes in. Or laugh-peeing.
  10. If you had stitches (with my first I had 2 upward tears with a ton of stitches.) going pee will hurt like hell and everytime you go (with dread) you will either a) decide to ONLY pee in the shower, or b) squirt yourself with warm water the whole time to dilute the burn.
  11. Your first post-partum poop can be scarier than giving birth drug free. Really, they need to make a pooping epidural.
  12. Hemorrhoids.
  13. After a few days, there will still be blood. It smells weird. And you will basically bleed as if you were having a month long non-stop period. (of course the timing varies for everyone. But average.)
  14. For this reason, the idea of buying depends is actually a good one. I wore grown up diapers (I know.. LOL) for 4 days and it was a lot more comfortable than wearing giant hospital post-partum pads.
  15. You might have a softball size blood clot plop out of you like a giant gelatinous bloody booger.
  16. Sometimes breastfeeding isn’t as easy as just putting a baby to the breast. Sometimes it is a lot harder than that and it takes a lot of determination to become successful.
  17. You produce colostrum before milk, and it can take a few days or more for your milk to come in.
  18. When your milk comes in, your boobs can suddenly feel like heavy boulders on your chest.
  19. The first two weeks of nursing are the hardest. Your nipples get sore, they can crack, bleed, and when baby nurses it inspires your uterus to contract and it doesn’t exactly feel great.
  20. Hearing ANY baby cry will make your boobs spring a leak.
  21. The spot in your back where the epidural or spinal was placed can give you a spinal headache.
  22. The spot in your back where the epidural was placed can still hurt years later.
  23. Gas pains after c-section can be rough.
  24. You don’t look completely un-pregnant right after birth. It is normal for your belly to take a while to shrink.
  25. If you got the linea-nigra line on your belly.. It may take a while to go away.
  26. If you got the linea-nigra line with your first two babies, it doesn’t mean you will have it every time. I have also heard stories of the line appearing darker after birth instead.
  27. Your body may never look the same – pregnancy and birth can completely alter your shape. For me personally, my hips have gotten wider after each baby.
  28. You can actually get stretch marks AFTER you give birth. Talk about unfair!
  29. As much as you may be tempted to exercise after birth or try to start losing the weight, it is so much better for you to wait to do anything strenuous until after you are healed. Doing too much too soon can make you bleed for a longer period of time, and is harder on your body.
  30. You may sweat a lot more than normal and/or have weird or stronger smelling b.o. than you did pre-pregnancy.
  31. A few months down the road, there is a good chance you will find fistfuls of hair coming out of your head in the shower. I was afraid I was going bald.
  32. No sex for 6 weeks.
  33. Having a C-section doesn’t make you any less of a mommy. You still gave birth to your child. You are still super woman.
  34. Post-partum depression is real, and can happen to anyone and it isn’t something to be ashamed about.
  35. Each birth can have a completely different post-partum experience. With my epidural birth, I couldn’t walk up stairs for 2 weeks. With my second birth, I went to target the day I got home from the hospital and felt great. With my third, I stayed in bed for a week because of how weak I felt.
  36. You forget a lot of the details about how much giving birth may have sucked pretty quickly after you do it. Which is cool.
  37. Despite all of the above… there’s a good chance the second you hold that precious baby of yours you would be ready to do it all over again!


What are some things that you experienced post-partum that surprised you?
Things you had wished you knew before you gave birth?
I’d love to add them to this list to help enlighten other first time moms.

(*This is not all-inclusive and this wasn’t meant to scare anyone. These things may or very well may not happen to you.
I’m not a medical professional, so all of these are either from my personal experience or from the personal experience of a group of 62 moms that I polled. )


No Comments

  1. Heather P. -  April 26, 2013 - 5:19 pm

    I had dizzy spells. Also with breastfeeding, I never got the feeling if my milk coming in. No hard, hot, tigglies at all. I also never have the feeling of my milk “letting down”. I am going strong breastfeeding 2 months today, despite what I was supposed to feel. Never underestimate what you are capable of!

  2. Shelley Payton -  April 26, 2013 - 6:39 pm

    Stuff I wish I would have know:

    Breastfeeding is MESSY. The first month I was always soaking myself and my baby trying to feed them.

    Doctors won’t always know if you have retained placenta. At least MY doctor didn’t anyway. >.<

  3. Katie -  April 26, 2013 - 6:40 pm

    Investing in a pack of granny panties for post-c-section life while my scar healed was a life saver. Also they no one tells you this but a compression bandage or spanks/girdle feel sooooooo good after a c-section.

    The sweating thing – oh god! No one told me that all that water weight I was carrying around at the end wouldn’t just be pee’ed out but sweated out too! I smelled like a trucker! It was HORRIBLE!!

  4. Abi -  April 26, 2013 - 6:55 pm

    Number 33 made me cry like a baby! I felt like I had failed and I still struggle a year later. And breastfeeding isn’t easy…and people should warn 1st time mommies to be of that! Thanks for this post!

  5. Ka'Tasha Graham -  April 26, 2013 - 7:18 pm

    I’m 2 days postpartum…I had no idea that I was gonna feel like I wish I was pregnant a little longer. Being pregnant was extremely uncomfortable, but right now my uncomfortableness is magnified to the tenth degree. Lol. I’m still swollen, my back still hurts as if I’m still carrying around my 7 1/2 lb baby, my body temp still has not regulated itself, and trying to pass gas is nearly impossible…something that was automatic during pregnancy. HOWEVER….I love my son very much!!! I keep staring at him in disbelief that my husband and I made him.

  6. Carrie -  April 26, 2013 - 9:50 pm

    I’m 9 days postpartum from my second baby (but first vaginal birth), I had no idea how painful a swollen perineum would be, or that it would persist so long. I also had no idea how tender/painful it would be to per even without any tearing.

  7. DebZ -  April 26, 2013 - 11:34 pm

    Wow, wow….!!! …what a great post! so real and honest…. love it! you are a great mom!!

  8. Jessica -  April 26, 2013 - 11:40 pm

    Unmedicated, out-of-hospital, waterbirth
    Regarding #13…For me the smell of the lochia was only weird because I could still smell the sweet smells of the birth. I was expecting the blood to smell foul like a period but instead it had the lovely smell of my baby. For me, this was a pleasant surprise and a lovely extention of the whole pregnancy-birth experience.

    Regarding #7…I had the hardest time with this. I was SHOCKED that I never realized just how horribly people treat each other in day-to-day life. It wasn’t until the first time I ventured out after the birth when I noticed people weren’t smiling at me and no one was saying “hello”. I became very disappointed in humanity.

  9. TD -  April 27, 2013 - 12:38 am

    Everyone kept telling me how much pain I’d be in down there and I really had absolutly no pain down there at all. None. Sure, it stung a little when I peed, but that only lasted a couple days. So for me that was defintely a plus, of course! I’m not sure if that was because I had med free births because I have heard that epi births are harder to recover from.

    I’m so thankful my mom told me about the after pains! I didn’t have them with my first, but with my second, OMG! It was painful!

  10. Beth -  April 27, 2013 - 9:44 am

    Two weeks after my second birth, I discovered that I have a uterine prolapse. It’s evidently common, but not talked about. I had an easy birth and was fit going into the birth, so it took me completely by surprise to find out about it. It was probably caused by being too active right after birth — cooking, cleaning, carrying toddlers, etc. And also bearing down after a difficult BM (ala #11). Even though most younger women don’t experience this, I think it’s something that should be talked about more.

  11. HigginsMomma -  April 27, 2013 - 3:22 pm

    Post C-section no ones tells you that you will probably retain more water than you ever did while you were pregnant, it will probably make your body sore, and that it can take days to dissipate.

    Having a good support person to control the flow of visitors post c-section is crucial. Everyone wants to meet the baby/babies, but very few people realize that a c-section is major surgery and you are TIRED!!

    There is an additional list of things I would’ve been told as a FTM of preemie twins- two additional realms of unknowns that no one tells you too!!

  12. Christina -  April 28, 2013 - 11:29 am

    I wish someone had told me that after a c section you would be able to stay awake and would probably be out of it for the rest of the day. If I had known that no one would have been waiting for us. I wouldn’t have to listen to people saying things and not being able to respond. That is one of the only things I regret about my delivery experience. Oh and if you are unsure about breast feeding a lactation consultant can be a life saver.

  13. Hillary -  April 29, 2013 - 2:26 pm

    Sweating. So much sweating. And terrible acne. And constipation (which makes pooping while bruised and stitched a very very painful experience). I advise post-partem mothers to just go ahead and buy stool softener and start taking it like immediately after giving birth. And the crying. Yes – I was anxious and depressed – probably more than I was willing to admit and more than other new mothers I knew – but I cried a lot because I just couldn’t help it. And just how utterly alone you suddenly become. I’m a career woman who works in a pretty people-oriented industry and after that first week when my mom had to go back home to her job out of state and my husband was back to work and all my close friends were working their jobs, I was by myself, depressed with a colicky baby. The only thing that sort of got me through was my weekly breastfeeding support group at the hospital. Why don’t we talk about this more?

  14. Monica -  April 29, 2013 - 3:21 pm

    After pushing my daughter out for 2 hours I was so swollen!! For weeks! I never knew it could get that puffy down there! Sex hurt for the first 7 or 8 months!! Since I tore! I couldn’t walk very long for the first 2 months it made it hurt down there from the hard surfaces! And yes breast feeding is so difficult! It took a good 2 months of pain every time she latched and she ended up only feeding from one breast. Picky little girl! And I miss being pregnant. All that pain you go through I can’t wait to go back an do it again!!

  15. Kayla L. -  May 3, 2013 - 2:54 pm

    The day after I gave birth, my feet were so swollen from all of the water weight, that I couldn’t walk! They were twice the size of my pregnant, swollen feet. I wish I had known to expect that!

  16. Kendra -  May 11, 2013 - 11:23 pm

    I wish I had read something like this before I gave birth for the first time (7 weeks ago). I would add back pain to the list. All of the weight of carrying my low little boy was gone; and replaced with the weight of holding my son to my breast and the weight of my engorged tatas. Plus, I was sitting funny because of pain and swelling “down there.” All of this wreaked havoc on my back. I also (unwisely) spent a lor of time on my feet immediately after the birth.

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