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The Appalling Truth About Postpartum Recovery

The Appalling Truth About Postpartum Recovery

Surprising Things No One Talks About Postpartum

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This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for more details.

No one told me anything even remotely close to what I experienced postpartum. It’s just not talked about. At least, not in a truthful way.

We tend to gloss everything over and kind of laughingly mention some of the intense parts but never is it truly discussed in depth.

I almost feel like there should be a whole CLASS on postpartum recovery simply to prepare you and VALIDATE you- like, YES, what you’re going through? It’s NORMAL.

This post isn’t meant to be a negative thing. It’s meant to be truthful, honest and REAL so that when you get to the postpartum phase of your motherhood journey you aren’t completely shocked.

*Please read to the bottom to read a POSITIVE postpartum experience as well.

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I don’t know your whole birth story. Perhaps you labored for 36 hours and ended up with an emergency C-section (I’m so sorry if you did) or maybe you had a short birth with short pushing and no stitches (which is wonderful!).

Yes, some things are harder to recover from. But even if you had a relatively easy birth- you pushed a baby out of your vagina (or had one taken out via incision.)

That’s intense. Everything will hurt because your body tenses up during contractions, you’re exhausted and your vagina stretched to a watermelon size. It hurts no matter what and it’s NORMAL.

I actually genuinely thought that the pain wouldn’t be that bad after having a baby- don’t ask me why.


Your downstairs, your boobs, your eyes. Seriously– everything leaks for the next few months after giving birth.

Your downstairs leaks because – hey o!- you pushed a baby outta there! You will leak blood, possibly pee and you might have some crazy discharge. Normal!

Make sure you grab some of those giant disposable underwear from the hospital or some cheap panties in a larger size that you can just chuck when you’re done with them. Use those giant maternity pads to catch stuff and don’t be ashamed– it happens to every woman that has a baby.

Make some DIY Padsicles for some MAJOR relief after delivery!

Your boobs leak because your milk comes in and if it’s your first baby your body will be getting used to that. Find yourself a REALLY GOOD nursing bra- good not as in most expensive but comfortable and easy to use. I recommend this nursing bra to every new momma- it’s truly amazing!

Grab some breast pads to catch the leaking milk. You can grab a set of 10 reusable ones for free from here using the code NEWMOMMA20.

I always liked disposable pads more because they were easier to deal with and seemed to hold more milk than reusable.

You eyes will leak because birthing a baby, suddenly not being pregnant and taking care of a newborn really throws your hormones out of whack- who knew?


You’d think that your natural instincts would take over and breastfeeding would be a breeze- it’s not. There is a HUGE learning curve- and that’s okay as long as you’re prepared for it!

RELATED: No BS Breastfeeding Essentials

Coming home from the hospital with my first baby was incredibly scary. I thought things were going okay until my milk actually came in. My boobs got so big. I didn’t know about proper feeding positions and I actually ended up needing an emergency chiropractic appointment because my neck/shoulder hurt so badly.

Using a nursing pillow makes ALL the difference in protecting your neck/back/shoulders.

You can use the code NEWMOMMA20 to grab a free nursing pillow from here but I have to be honest- they just aren’t as good quality as this one.

You would be wise to invest in a breastfeeding course-

Milkology is a breastfeeding course taught by a lactation consultant and mom of 3- she goes over everything from breastfeeding positions to how to make more milk and touches on the biggest mistake that breastfeeding moms make. The Milkology course is only 90 minutes so it’s totally doable!


Confession time- I went back to the hospital a week after the birth of my first baby because I legitimately had no clue that my vagina would hurt so bad.

I had 2nd degree tearing, stitches and it HURT like HELL to even sit down on the toilet and try to pee.

I had no idea that hurting like that after giving birth is totally normal!

When I saw a doctor at the hospital they (very kindly) explained that I really didn’t need to be there… It was a bit embarrassing.

This spray is magical– it’s a natural cooling spray that helps soothe your inflamed parts with no icky ingredients. Use it after you go to the bathroom… or anytime you need it!

Although I didn’t personally get hemorrhoids- lots of women do, unfortunately. This cream has the highest rating I could find on Amazon.

You’ll Still Have Contractions

This is surprising, You’d think labor would end and so would contractions- wrong! These are called after pains or cramps and they usually last about 3 days. They can be especially bad during a feed.

The reason you feel them is because your uterus is shrinking back down to normal.


For real… when they’re in your tummy, they’re safe and you can protect them without thinking about it (too much…). But out, in the real world? Oh my god.

It’s terrifying.

I spent the first few weeks in an absolute stupor of exhaustion. I couldn’t sleep because I was TERRIFIED of my baby not being able to breathe or choking (on what? I don’t know!)

Which Feelings Are Normal- And Which Aren’t?

I think it’s important to distinguish what are NORMAL postpartum feelings (called the baby blues) and what may actually be postpartum depression.

You are going to go for an emotional ride after you have a baby- that’s a given. You are going to cry at some point- probably multiple times.

Baby blues:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritibilty
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Reduced concentration
  • Trouble sleeping

Postpartum depression:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

YOU WILL NOT “BOUNCE BACK” Immediately After Giving Birth

Make sure you pack maternity clothes in your hospital bag. Even though your belly will be smaller, it won’t be small enough to fit into pre pregnancy clothes.

I really thought losing weight and ‘bouncing back’ would happen within a few weeks after giving birth… yeah, no. It took 9 months to grow your baby and put on that weight- give yourself a 9 month grace period.

You can still eat healthy/exercise but be gentle with yourself and be patient.


Oh, I wish I’d known that I could say no. It’s YOUR baby, it’s YOUR body, it’s YOUR postpartum recovery time.

If you don’t want visitors for 2 weeks- DON’T HAVE VISITORS.

You are allowed to say no. And you are DEFINITELY allowed to say no to visitors in the hospital. They can wait. They’ll be fine.

I was a complete mess after my first baby and I allowed a constant stream of visitors.

I cooked, I cleaned and I entertained guests even though I could barely stand and sometimes having guests meant having my baby woken up or missing a chance to *try* and sleep.


When you do have visitors and they offer to do something for you- say yes. I know that’s easier said than done- I DIDN’T say yes to offers of help and I wish I would have.

It’s helpful to make a list of things people can do if they offer to help- just be like yep, sure! Do something on this list:

  • Load the dishwasher.
  • Sweep the kitchen.
  • Heat up a meal.
  • Etc.


You don’t have to entertain, you don’t have to go grocery shopping with a newborn, you don’t have to lose the weight, you don’t have to start exercising at 6 weeks postpartum (unless you want to!)

When you have a baby, healing and taking care of your baby is enough. MORE than enough.

And truly, it goes by incredibly fast. Be protective of the time you have with your tiny newborn baby- it will be over so quickly.

You Might Have A Really Positive Experience

Confused? Let me explain:

This post is mainly about my first postpartum experience. I want to share something with you that might give you some hope for subsequent babies.

With my second baby, the labor was quick (less than 6 hours) and the recovery was so good that I didn’t even want to tell people about it… I went for a run (slowly) at 7 days PP. That’s crazy! But I sincerely felt so good!

I still had a hard time with other things (like my son having colic) but the physical recovery wasn’t NEARLY as bad as with my first baby.

The same can be said for my third baby (less than 4 hour labor, no epidural). Super fast recovery!

There’s hope for not horrible experiences too!

The Postpartum Time Is No Joke

I really, TRULY hope that this helps you prepare in some way for when you are recovering postpartum.

Please feel free to connect with me in the comments if you have any questions or other tips you’d add for new mommas!