Questions Many Postpartum Women Ask, Or Are Dying To Know About.
Since I did an article on common questions new moms ask, and things they would like to know, during baby’s 1st year, why not cover all of our bases and talk about the postpartum woman, as well?
What are some questions we all have in the first months after a pregnancy, whether multiple or singleton, and what are the answers? Some we may even be too embarrassed to ask our own doctors, but no need for blushing here.
Mama Possible has got you covered.
#1) When will my milk come in?
Those first few days your breasts will be providing your baby or baby twins nutrients, with a substance called colostrum. This is extremely nutrient rich for baby, and helps protect against all kinds of allergies and diseases, down the line. It’s at about 4-5 days postpartum, when the real milk will come in for your bundle of love, and when it does, you will certainly know it.
Your breasts will further increase in size and suddenly you will wake up with the hardened breasts of a go-go dancer 😆 (Personally, minus the pain and severe hardness, when they got a tad softer, I wished I could keep ’em!) This will tell you quite quickly, your milk has arrived!
#2) What do I do if I’m not breastfeeding to help ease the pain of my milk drying up?
If you choose to NOT breastfeed, then letting your milk dry up, may be a bit of a painful process. For me I eased the discomfort I felt, with ice cold cabbage leaves, straight from the freezer. That is correct ladies, cabbage leaves indeed, and I slipped them under my bra, but be forewarned.
If you start smelling something and wonder what died in the house, or who is cooking St. patty’s day dinner, a bit too early, sniff down 1st, because your body heat gets those cabbage leaves hot, and you are in a sense cooking them, so be sure and replace them often, and before you blame anybody else for creating a ‘funk’, do look in the mirror first. It might just be you, however they do work wonders, so I find it’s worth it! PLUS, they do help the milk dry up quicker to boot!
There are pills that can be used to dry up the milk fast, but most doctors are against this practice nowadays, and I read some not so great things about them, when I was thinking about asking for some myself. Go the natural route and know, it won’t last for long. Your former breasts will return shortly.
(Normally it takes will take about a week, for the engorged breasts to get the message, and stop producing milk, though you may notice slight discharge from the nipples or the ability to express a drop of milk, for some time to come, but without the pain.)
#2) How long will my Linea nigra stick around?
Well it’s funny because I don’t remember having one with my boys, but maybe I did, I just can’t remember back then so well, but it couldn’t have been all that long since I don’t remember ever thinking ‘Gee…when is this going away already? It’s been forever!’
BUT this must vary not only from person to person, but from pregnancy to pregnancy, because with my daughter, 5+ yrs ago, I didn’t have any line during the pregnancy and then AFTERWARDS I got the line, and it was a good 7, possibly 8 months before I noticed it really starting to go away.
Seriously this is something I recommend you trying, as I had a lot of darkness in my shallow belly button. It looked like dirt, so one day I decided to put soap on it and scratch a little at it. It started to come off. I tried it on the line and some of that peeled off to, so this time with the twins, though I noticed a line appear maybe at 25 weeks or so, so I thought I’d have it way darker, and worse then ever, at 9 months postpartum now, it’s completely gone, and has been gone for MONTHS now, totally.
Around 2-3 months postpartum, I did the same thing I had done the prior time, and it lightened up quite a bit, and was gone way completely much sooner, so you may be able to have an impact simply by taking a shower, and using your finger nails, but shhh…don’t tell too many people:) If you don’t touch it, it will fade over the first few months postpartum, but may take up to 6-12 months to fully disappear. Some say a slight line may exist forever, but I have yet to meet a woman who has had that experience.
#3) When will I be able to have sex with my husband again?
Will you be able to find the time? That is the first question. No just kidding, even with twins, you will get back in the saddle again, but it takes a little time. If you had a c-section or vaginal birth makes a bit of difference.
A) If you had a c-section.
One would think you’d be rearing to go much sooner, but not so fast! Your body has been through a trauma, and is re-cooperating, nonetheless, and still needs some healing time. Having a c-section doesn’t mean you’ll be ready to rumble, in a week’s time. It is a major abdominal operation. Tell your eager hubby to keep that in mind!
Your incision will be sore, you will still be having some pain during those first postpartum weeks, so unless you feel extremely comfortable, it makes perfect sense to wait just as long as is recommended for a vaginal birth, and postpone sex untill the 6 week postpartum visit with your doctor. You’ll be busy, and probably not as in a rush as your husband is anyhow.
B) As far as you vaginal birth women go.
You are thinking about putting something in, where something just came out of, so you got to think carefully about when to resume relations. I have had 2 episiotomies in my life, and was not looking to have sex those 1st two months for sure, so that was easy to wait there. Not that it was so terrible AT ALL really, I was just afraid, which is normal, especially after a nip and stitch, though I’d much prefer that to a tear, as most would. If you have not had an episiotomy you may feel ready sooner, but you should still take your time. Use your own personal discretion in such a case.
If you had a tear repaired or an episiotomy, don’t even try to have sex before your 6 week checkup. Make sure everything is 100% healed before you resume relations with your spouse or significant other, and the doctor has given you the go ahead. 6 weeks really zooms by, so it’s really not that long to wait.
If you want to wait even more, explain your fears to your partner. They have feelings of insecurity to. (YES..go figure). Assure them it is indeed you, not him. (No line there), and you can do other things intimately to relieve stress until you feel completely ready for sex.
If you had a normal vaginal birth without any complications or stitches involved, then it is still recommended that you wait until your postpartum checkup. I didn’t with my 5yo because we celebrated some occasion out to dinner which involved a couple glasses of wine, yadda yadda, 4 weeks in, maybe 4.5 weeks, we did the deed.
This time I was just scared since two came out of there, I was worried about the superficial, would it still be the same? ETC., so we waited about a week after the 6 week checkup, though I planned on much longer, it sort of just happened. (No wine that time) 😛
#4) Will things still be the same ‘down there’?
Most likely YES. It’s given far too much thought then it should, in my opinion. I worried about my vagina from baby one, and through 5 full term vaginal births I worried each time, and each time, things went right back to where they were. The lips may look slightly different (Meaning the labia), but it shouldn’t be a dramatic change. The human body is designed to bare babies.
The vagina is a muscle, much like any other in the body, and it stretches and closes to allow for the birth of your child or twins, and while there may be some exception to the rule, like a very traumatic childbirth, though I did have one of those myself without problems, but say with a really bad tear that wasn’t repaired correctly, etc. maybe it will be slightly looser, but most definitely it won’t be noticeable to you or your partner. Sex in general, from virginity to motherhood, basically loosens things up to a comfortable size, and then the vagina usually stays that size, even after childbirth.
I know I did my kegels with the babies that I knew what a kegel was. #3 and #’s 4&5, and it does help I am sure. We can work out other muscles of the body, so it only makes sense that you can improve your vaginal tone through exercise as well. You can start these during pregnancy, but it’s not too late if you have already given birth. The effects of kegels never expire. Watch this video to see more on the subject of the vagina after childbirth, and things you can do to improve your muscle tone ‘down there’:
#5) I feel a little depressed after my babies birth. What are the signs of postpartum depression?
There is a difference between the normal mood swings of the hormones vacating the premises, inside of a postpartum woman’s body, and the depressed feelings of true postpartum depression, which run much deeper, and don’t seem to let up and may even intensify. Crying over the mail being late, or when you spill milk on the floor, are signs of being hormonal and that is totally normal, in the early days, even weeks, after the birth.
Crying because you feel like you can’t bond with your baby, don’t feel like being with your new child, have ill thoughts about mother-hood or your child in general, are all signs that something is wrong, and you need to consider postpartum depression as the culprit.
True postpartum depression affects 10% of all postpartum women. Some are much less severe then others, but all should be recognized and talked about, even treated when need be. There is zero shame in it, and you shouldn’t feel guilty. I haven’t dealt with this personally, but have researched the topic, and have written a blog post on it and have a video, which I will share shortly. (Searching for it. I write A LOT). If you feel this applies to you, give it a read. This doesn’t make you a bad mother, it’s a more common occurrence then anyone leads you to believe, so don’t feel bad about clicking the link and finding out more, when it’s added below.
REMEMBER there is a difference between feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed, and feeling depressed over your new baby, or being a mother, and not being able to shake it, or having negative thoughts about your baby, even possibly thoughts of even harming him or her. Seek help ASAP if you are feeling the latter, but still know, you aren’t alone, and can be treated successfully, and go on to fully enjoy motherhood!
#6) I’m so afraid of SIDS, I can hardly sleep at night. What can I do to prevent my baby from a SIDS related death?
This is probably THE biggest fear of any new mother. I know it always has been for me. It is quite a rare occurrence, especially nowadays with the preventative measures we know now, that we did not know even 10, 15 years ago. In this day and age approx 2,500 (May be a little bit smaller of a number, but roughly 2k-3k in THIS time period, but closer to the 1st number). It used to be 7,000 or more per year, which is a HUGE decline, thanks to the ‘Back to sleep’ campaign.
A) The #1 thing is putting you baby on his or her back to sleep.
For evenings and naps, this is SO important.
B) SIDS sleep sacks, I have always used and believed in.
This avoids blankets and keeps your baby warm and cozy! (Wish they made a sleep sack for adults.) No toys, blankets, or anything plush, in the crib with your baby.
I know a lot of families, especially with crunchy mamas do this, and swear by it, but why not take it to a safer step and use an arm’s reach co-sleeper. You are still near, but unable to inadvertently roll onto your child, or have your child suffocate in your bed. I quite frankly don’t trust my sleeping habits, and I couldn’t live with that on my head, so I have never co-slept, for even 1 evening, and have used the arm’s reach co-sleeper instead, with amazing results.
D) Buy a new crib mattress.
Don’t use the mattress given to you by a friend, or a former baby, especially one you had more then 18 months ago, it’s just not worth the risk, as new evidence shows that old mattresses emit toxic fumes that may be a contributor to SIDS, and they recommend buying a new mattress for each new baby. It is worth the money for the peace of mind, isn’t it?
Just remember, no matter how small the number, some families will be the unfortunate ones affected, and there is no way to save a baby who dies from a SIDS related death. You can do all you can, but there may be something within the child making them simply more prone to this, no matter what you do, so no mother or father should ever blame themselves, as SIDS can’t be stopped altogether. It’s a sad and unfortunate part of life. To learn more about the subject and things you can do, I also have a blog post on this web site, and a video. I will put that video below, if you are interested in viewing. You can read more here: CLICK.
#7) When will I return to my pre-pregnancy clothing and size again?
That depends, but a good rule of thumb is, it takes 9 months to make a baby, so at the very least, allow yourself 9 months to get yourself back into shape. Mind you, you still may need more time, especially if you gained some extra pounds, had a multiple pregnancy, or just have a harder time losing weight in general.
Be forgiving. You created a beautiful child, or children, and it’s an amazing feat your body has just gone through. It’s unfair to put too much pressure on yourself, too soon. Yes, there will be those back in swimsuits in 3 weeks time, and there will be those who find it may take a year or more to feel good inside of their own skin again.
Just know, wherever you fall on the spectrum, nothing is abnormal, and with all the demands of a new baby or babies, it’s easy to not be able to work on getting your body back, if you were used to exercise, so cut yourself some slack, and do what is in your control…Belly binding, eating right, taking your new baby or twins out on frequent walks for some exercise, etc.
Once the months start to pass on and your baby or babies take their place in your family, it will be easier to think about your body and real exercise. Drink water, avoid excess sugar, which includes sodas, avoid whole milk, drink lighter in calorie juices, and eat as little junk food as possible, and you’ll lose weight and see results. I have some dieting tips for postpartum mothers. HEALTHY dieting tips. Starvation is not one of them, so don’t even go there ladies!
Whether C-section or vaginal birth, the very best and most safe form of exercise during the first month postpartum, is walking! It burns calories, puts you baby(ies) to sleep, and is very good for your body overall.
A) C section mothers should avoid any strenuous exercise for 6-8 weeks. So, do wait until at least your postpartum checkup before trying to strengthen your abs, or do any weight bearing exercises. Wait for your doctor’s approval, no matter how good you may feel.
B) Vaginal moms, if you had a pre-pregnancy exercise regime, and were used to some light exercise, you should be able to resume that activity within days of delivery, but listen to your body, do not over do it, and if you had stitches you may feel comfortable waiting a bit longer. 2 weeks is a good round number for those who had a normal vaginal birth and were not used to working out at all, but are looking to start.
Just remember, your body has been through a lot, so taking it easy for the first few months, meaning no marathons or gymnastics competitions for the first few months please. The baby or babies will surely keep you busy enough. You may not need to do much else at all then ‘be a mom’, and still burn a lot of calories. Check with your doctor before you leave the hospital for his own personal recommendations for you. Everybody is different.
#9) Handling the fatigue. How do I manage with such little sleep?
I have said it before and I’ll say it again. You’d be surprised what you can function on, with simple adrenaline on your side, those first couple of months, when things are at their worst. I’m someone who requires 7-9 hours of straight sleep normally, so how could I be a mom? Oh it be possible.
It takes a lot of teamwork between you are your husband, and dividing things into shifts until your baby or twins start sleeping through the night. That is the best thing you can do to get SOME straight sleep, which is the best kind of sleep. Broken up sleep just isn’t the same, but no matter what, mark my words, you WILL get through this.
Find what works for you and your partner, try and get a solid 4-5 hours if you possibly can, and pump milk for the evenings when necessary, so your husband can do his part, and if you can’t get 5 straight hours, or even if you can, if you are able to nap in the day time..DO IT! Let the laundry pile up a little, it’s ok. You just gave birth, and are bonding with your babies, and are dealing with lack of sleep to boot. Don’t go crazy if you can’t do it all, because nobody can.
I can’t nap in the day, but even twins nap A LOT after every feed in the first 2 months, even close to the 3rd month, so take advantage of this to at least rest your eyes a bit, and relax yourself. They will be sleeping for way longer stretches before you know it. You will see! For tips on getting your baby to sleep through the night, click here:
#10) Is breastfeeding alone, a reliable form of birth control?
There are plenty of breastfeeding moms, even exclusive breastfeeding moms who have wound up pregnant again, by a whoopsie, which is enough proof for them, and for me, that it should NOT be relied upon, as a sole method of birth control, during the postpartum period. It may work for some, but it has failed for many, so if you are sure you don’t want to extend you family so soon, use a back up method, and be certain!
#11) When can I start taking oral birth control again?
As far as birth control, you can start taking this, and you will talk to your doctor about this, at your 6 week, postpartum check up. He can prescribe you something at that appointment, so should you be such a horn dog that you can’t wait until that appointment to do the nasty, be sure to use other methods of birth control.
YOU CAN ovulate before you get your first postpartum period. Women have fallen pregnant again without even bleeding, from their 1st postpartum flow, so make sure you protect yourself until you are on the pill, have an IUD in place, a depo shot, or whatever method you plan on using. Discuss this with your doctor.
#12) When will my I get my 1st period, after my baby?
Your 1st postpartum period should take place anywhere between 6-10 weeks post baby(ies). Mine occurred at 8 weeks this time, so I was right in the middle. I wish it were later though.
#13) When does the postpartum bleeding stop?
Lochia (Your postpartum bleeding, which happens to all women directly after childbirth, which will have ‘Clots’ in it. This is normal and should not be panicked over), normally stops 3-6 wks. postpartum, however some lucky women may stop bleeding at 2 weeks. (Those lucky dogs), but know 4-6 weeks is ‘The majority norm’, and nothing is wrong with you. When this stops, and a couple to a few more weeks pass by, and you start bleeding again, assume this is your 1st menstrual period, because it most definitely is.
DO NOT insert a tampon for this kind of bleeding. Wait until your 6 week checkup and your actual menstrual period, before using a tampon. For the postpartum bleeding unfortunately, you will have to join your baby or twins in the being ‘Diapered’ department, but it won’t be for nearly as long as it will be for him or her, (or them).
#14) When will my cycles return to normal again? Will they be all over the place for awhile?
Your periods may be longer or shorter, or the same as they were, and the same with your cycle length, but if it isn’t normal, rest assured as hormones leave your body and things start getting back on track, your cycles will return to the way they were, usually within the first 3 cycles or so, give or take.
#15) When will the postpartum hair loss start, and when will it end?
Ahh one of the joys of pregnancy is knowing that your shiny thick mane, will surely start shedding after the birth, as the hormones vacate your body, and things start returning to normal. This shedding is absolutely normal, and happens to every woman, unless you are wonder woman, or sub human.
1st off, take heart. In 6-12 months time, you will be back to your regular glorious mane again. This time though can vary from woman to woman. I thought I was going to be one of the 1 in a billion lucky ones, but alas at nearly 5 months postpartum is when I got hit with the hair loss bug. It lasted a few long months, and has stopped only recently (8.5 mo. postpartum), but usually at around 5 months, possibly 6 or so, the major shedding stops, but you could end up like me and start at that point. It’s kind of individual and unpredictable.
Hair ‘usually’ starts it’s shedding about 2-3 months after delivery and stops a couple of months later. (Usually 2-3 months of shedding.) If you have any concerns about this, and the amount of hair loss, or it lingering on too long for your taste, please do consult your doctor on the matter.
*NOTE: They say it’s only the hair that did not fall out during pregnancy, as it normally would, as we lose hair every day, except while pregnant, it seems to all stay put. This is what comes out during the postpartum period, and is no cause for alarm, unless it becomes too excessive, and it lingers far too long.*
#16) What is colic, and how will I know if my baby or twins has it?
It is something all new mothers dread, the God awful ‘C’ word, but if your baby has it, you are not alone. Millions of babies, and parents are affected. What is colic? Babies are known to cry for various reasons, but ongoing crying for no apparent reason, for hours on end, especially if it happens in the evenings most every evening, in your newborn baby, it is likely colic, plaguing your once happy home, but take heart, colic usually only lasts for the 1st 3 months, which can see like such a long time, but believe me, it really is not.
It is possibly caused by some sort of abdominal discomfort, gas, pressure, an ache in the tummy, we really aren’t 100% sure, but it can be very draining on new parents. Up to 20% of all newborns will have some form of colic during the 1st few months of life.
What are the symptoms?
A) Inconsolable crying spells for starters.
It usually rears it’s ugly head during the first several weeks of life. (The 1st month.)
B) Poor sleeping schedules.
Your baby may wake with intense crying jags due to being colicky. Your baby may seem very gassy. When held and screaming, he or she may pass gas, burp a lot, etc. Just try and make him or her as comfortable as possible.
C) Baby’s posture
You may notice your baby has clenched fists, legs drawn in to the chest, the back may be arched, and abs tensed up.
The crying from colic starts up without reason, and often hits at roughly the same time each day. Colic rarely lasts beyond 4 months of age, but usually subsides by 3.
Colic may be caused by indigestion or gas, but we really can’t say for certain. For now, colic seems to be a pretty mysterious condition, but many families are afflicted. If you find yourself feeling frustrated and overwhelmed during these crying episodes, don’t be ashamed to call on a support system. Find a friend or family member, your spouse, and walk away to breathe for a little while. It won’t be like this for long, keep that thought in your mind as you go.
#17) Is there anything I can do for these stretchmarks?
You can unfortunately, only do so much at the present time for stretchmarks. They say genetics plays a key role, but for me, unless I was secretly adopted, this was not the case. My mom DID have them, I do not.
Drinking a lot of water, keeping the skin moist, especially during the cold winter months can help. I loved the Palmer’s belly butter and soothing oil, and they are cheap and in your local Walmart or CVS. A good diet, some moderate exercise to keep the skin good, healthy, and elastic, can all help, but if you do find yourself with battle scars in the post partum period, rest assured you are not alone.
Millions of women have stretchmarks, and while there is no cure, there is an over the counter remedy called Strivectin you can use on existing stretchmarks with some success. I have never gotten a stretch mark from pregnancy, but I did get a couple on my hips from gaining then losing too much weight fast. (Not healthy and can lead to stretch marks, so try and gain slowly and lose slowly. It helps prevent stretchmarks and sagging skin, just an FYI).
I used Strivectin and it honestly did work to flatten out, and make the marks white and hardly noticeable at all. I’d have to really search to find them. It is costly, but it does work. I asked Santa for their under eye wrinkle cream this year 🙂 There is also dermabrasion and lasers if things get really desperate. This can greatly reduce the appearance of stretch marks on the skin’s surface, but are much more expensive of course.
With all of the women who complain about the way their stretchmarks look, and all of the women who fear getting them, rest assured that some big breakthrough will be right around the corner, until then, take the preventative measures that you can, and if you get them, wear them with pride. They will fade to a silvery white over time, and shrink to become hardly noticeable, as you lose weight, but will start out bright red and may freak you out at first, but take heart, they will NOT stay this way, just for consolation.
Your baby or twins are definitely worth the superficial marks that they can leave behind. You are a mother, and NOTHING is more beautiful then that.
Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon!
(If you have a really great question you want added to this list, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add it here!)