What to Expect From Your Postpartum Recovery

Your new baby is out (congrats!) and your body is yours again. Um, not so fast. While everyone's postpartum period experience is different, many moms agree it can take a while to feel at home in your own skin again.

We asked NYC-based ObGyn Jaqueline Worth and co-author of The New Rules Of Pregnancy to walk us through some of the most common "surprises" new moms face as it relates to postpartum recovery.

Whoa, Breastfeeding

Many think it's just naturally going to happen, but between a bad latch, not enough breast milk supply, engorgement, and the pain, it can be a struggle.

Dr. Worth: Lean on the hospital’s lactation consultant to establish good positioning and practices from the start. If you struggle once you get home, Boober is a highly-regarded and dependable resource for virtual lactation support. You can text the number and have someone helping you within a few hours. And in addition to breastfeeding guidance, they also have postpartum doulas and mental health support.

Desperately Seeking A Libido

You've been cleared at your 6-week postpartum appointment to have sex again, but it's the LAST thing you feel like doing. What's going on?

Dr. Worth:The physical changes you’ll experience after childbirth are significant, but temporary. By the time the baby is about 9 months old, your body – and vagina – will be close to the way it was before pregnancy. Know that breastfeeding and fatigue decrease your libido, as does room-sharing with your baby, so what you’re feeling is totally normal if you’re doing any (or all) of those things. Give yourself time.

Adult Diapers?!

Diapers or maternity pads are a must for a few reasons. Vaginal bleeding occurs whether you had a vaginal birth or a cesarean section. Don't be alarmed! It's totally normal. Plus, a sneeze is no longer just a sneeze. It could mean letting a bit of urine go too. Is this forever? What to do?

Dr. Worth:The process of stretching out the vagina can lead to areas of weakness and pain. Pelvic floor PT can help remedy those imbalances. While it’s so easy to ignore your own physical needs postpartum, it’s so important to attend to them. I highly recommend the Every Mother program, developed by Leah Keller, which is clinically proven to resolve diastasis recti. I also suggest wearing a tight binder like BellyBandit for 4 weeks postpartum.

Holy Hair Loss

Your hair is falling out in clumps and it's alarming to say the least. Is this normal? What to do?

Dr. Worth:Hair grows in cycles and pregnancy can coordinate the cycles so you have a big loss phase immediately after birth because of hormonal changes. It’s normal, just be sure to keep taking your vitamins, eat a healthy diet, and try not to worry about it – the loss will eventually slow.

Excuse Me, But Is My Tush Falling Out?!

And now for the really unpleasant stuff: Some women experience blood and major discomfort with bowel movements postpartum.

Dr. Worth: Pregnancy hormones slow down your GI tract and make you prone to constipation. It takes some time for that to regulate. I recommend taking Colace twice a day and Metamucil every day for a few weeks. Sitz baths with these Earth Mama Angel Baby sachets can help soothe the nether regions – just fill the tub with a few inches of water and sit in it for a bit. I also suggest that my patients buy some organic maxi pads and generously squirt them with organic witch hazel and put them in individual plastic bags in the freezer. This is good to do before giving birth, so they’re ready to go for immediate relief when you get home from the hospital. (Make sure you're sitting on a towel because the witch hazel will thaw and turn liquid again.) And last but certainly not least: If you see a little blood, don’t be alarmed, as this is a normal occurrence as your uterus shrinks postpartum. But, of course, contact your doctor if anything seems off.

Postpartum Recovery Checklist

Below are a few items you'll want to have ready for your postpartum period:

  • Maternity pads for any vaginal discharge
  • Peri bottle (especially if you have a perineal tear)
  • Nursing bras to make breastfeeding easier
  • Doctor-approved pain medications for any aches
  • Sitz bath to help relieve pain
  • Someone to help with newborn care