photo of mother snuggling face-to-face with newborn baby in postpartum life

The ABC’s of Postpartum Life

You’ve probably heard phrases like, “Sleep when the baby sleeps” and received tips like, “Put a pad in the freezer to ease the pain post-birth” and about one trillion other things as a new mom. Some comments are helpful and others make you roll your eyes and grit your teeth. 

Here are 26 relatable postpartum moments from mamas who’ve been there. (And yes, 26 means one for every letter of the alphabet.) Get ready to smile, laugh and say, “Oh yeah, me too!

Afterbirth. Yup, that veiny, alien-looking organ you grew to nourish your baby. The placenta. If you give birth via cesarean (c-section) you probably won’t see it. But if you give birth vaginally, you’ll notice it. And, you’ll push it out right after baby.

Bleeding. This happens if you birth via c-section or vaginally; though it comes heavier and can last longer with a vaginal birth. Those hospital pads seem like adult diapers, yes, but they also get the job done.

Chills. Some call it “the shakes.” Basically, it’s a rush of hormones and loss of fluids that can make your body start shaking. It almost feels like you’re outside in cold weather without a jacket. Warm blankets and getting hydrated can help ease these chills. 

Diapers. How the heck are they so small? Seriously, newborn diapers might be cuter than onesies. Within hours of delivering your baby you’ll be changing the first diaper. And, you’ll probably be tandem changing your own— #twins? 

Eating. You’ll be ravenous so keep your favorite munchies nearby! Something about birthing a baby and taking care of them 24/7 makes your body (and mind) feel like it’s running a never-ending marathon. Best thing to do is SNACK UP. Granola bars, energy bites, chips and guacamole, sandwiches, shakes—eat whatever you enjoy that gives you energy. Also, now is this time to ask friends to bring you food and order takeout. Just say yes, it will make things easier.

Family. Suddenly family isn’t just your siblings or your parents or your in-laws. Now it’s you, your baby and your partner. You guys are a family now. You guys are thee family. Crazy, right? Your family is top priority and what you say about your family goes. (Back off, grandmas and grandpas.)

Gifts. It could be food (Meal Train anyone?), gift cards, flowers, cards, baby clothes, alcohol, coffee or candy. Something for baby, mom or dad. Even if gifts aren’t your love language, you’ll receive at least a couple post-birth. 

Hormones. Your body was full of estrogen and progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) during pregnancy. Then, you gave birth and now your hormones are trying to figure out what the heck ‘normal’ is again. You’ll feel those night sweats and shed those tears, and lose some hairs, but it will stabilize. Promise. 

Instinct. Was it surprising you felt comfortable holding your newborn? Did it feel like déjà vu? Yep, that’s instinct kicking in. Even when you’re beyond tired and exhausted, you find a way to care for your baby. (Hopefully with the help and support of loved ones.)

Joy. The thrill of travelling, climbing a mountain, crushing a presentation or finishing a race is incredible. But, the joy you feel looking at this little human you created? Priceless. Nothing compares to the joy of watching your little one coo, smile, laugh, babble and learn new skills.

Kisses. I’m sure you’ve given your significant other lots of kisses, lots of times. But I can guarantee your baby will receive more kisses than your partner. #Sorrynotsorry. How can you not kiss those sweet chubby cheeks? (Emphasis on you kissing them. Completely okay to not let others kiss them.) Also, studies show affection can lower your baby’s chance of anxiety and stress later on in life. So smooch away!

Love. Like never before, the love you have for your baby is extremely unique. Sure, you love your partner or friends or family, but not like you love your baby. You created this human! They are half you. What’s not to love?

Moving. Oh man does this feel weird at first. Everyone cheers for a baby’s first steps but what about a new mama? What about her first steps post-birth? (Especially after a c-section.) Your legs might feel wobbly, your pelvis a bit heavy, and it can feel like your first time walking, sitting or bending. Take it slow. It gets better!

Naked. Say hello to necessary decent exposure. It doesn’t matter how or where you give birth, you’ll be showing more of your body than you’re used to. No Pap smear can prepare you for this.

Outside. Getting fresh air postpartum can make you feel like a whole new woman. Bring your baby with you or take a walk solo; either way it can help you heal.

Pelvic floor. Ah, the buzz word you’ve been hearing about recently in women’s health. The pelvic floor is the hammock of muscles which hold up your bladder, rectum, and uterus. They’re also part of your core and help you run, lift, and do all types of movements. As your uterus grew to accommodate your baby, it put more pressure on your pelvic floor. Then, when you give birth, it adds strain to your pelvic floor. But, you can heal and restore your pelvic floor. (Here are some gentle exercises you can do postpartum.)

Quiet. There will be moments of it, but once the baby finds their voice, you will long for peace and quiet. Then, 20 minutes later you might miss their little yells and cries and babbles. Either way, life will never be that quiet again—unless it’s nap time.

Reflect. Babies keep you busy but they also give you a lot of time to reflect. You start thinking of the cycle of life and how we all got here and how we were all babies once. You start imagining what it was like for your parents to raise you and how your friends who have babies have done it. (Get ready for some epiphanies.)

Sleep. You might have an adrenaline rush after the baby is born where you are wide awake. That will fade. You’ll long for five hours of consistent sleep. The good news? You’ll get there. Sleepless nights are only a season. (Chant that over and over to yourself, it might keep you sane.) Don’t forget there are tools to help baby sleep.

Time. Feel like you entered a weird black-hole or a polar vortex time machine? Yeah, that’s postpartum life; where minutes can feel like hours and yet you blink and four months fly by. 

Unprepared. Yep, you’ll feel unprepared. No, it doesn’t matter how many books (okay, articles) you read or classes you attend, nothing can fully prepare you for postpartum life and parenthood in general. There will be moments you can’t control and situations you didn’t plan for—like that first diaper blowout.

Varicose veins. Up to 40% of women get them during pregnancy. They’re caused by the increase of your blood pressure and bodily fluids while you grew your baby. (Ah, the things we do for our baby.) They can be uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing, but there are treatments.

Work. Whatever your profession, however you make money or spend your time, it will look different postpartum. If you’re returning to a professional job or staying home full-time with your kids, work is different now. You’re pressed for time in your day and your night. Weeks are suddenly full of activity with drop-offs, pickups, playgroups, naps, feedings, and changes. 

Xylophone. [Okay, I admit it’s a struggle to find words starting with “X” but this one’s legit.] Bring on the kids toys. It starts during the newborn stage, after they move those cute little curious eyes around, you’ll start introducing toys. Baby xylophone and piano and singing elephants and talking sailboats galore! 

You. You did it! You birthed your baby. You are a champion. You are a survivor. You are a warrior. You deserve hugs and kisses and snuggles and chocolates and soft bathrobes and warm showers and hot coffee and delicious foods and everything good life has to offer.

Zany. You’ll feel a bit crazy, happy, tired, frustrated, weepy and basically every emotion under the sun so we’ll chalk it up to zany. It’s normal and it’s okay. Postpartum life brings so much into our lives—it’s beautiful and challenging. If you’re feeling a bit zany, it’s okay. It’s part of the process. 

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