Most maternity guidebooks teach expectant mothers about the baby’s growth inside with each progressing week and taking care of the baby post-delivery. It’s funny that none of the books ever talk about how pregnancy and later, delivery is going to affect the physical body of the mother. If at all people do talk about, they treat pregnancy like a beauty filter – rosy cheeks, shiny hair, glowing skin. But they tend to look the other way when it comes to discussing the not-so-glamorous side of pregnancy and delivery. No wonder, mothers face so many challenges because of the lack of preparation.
Today, we’re going to discuss the undiscussed and explore the nasty side of the postpartum body.
#1 Urinary Incontinence
It’s common to pee a little when you sneeze, laugh, or exercise after delivering your child. It’s partly because of stress on a sensitive body and partly because of weaker pelvic muscles which might also cause the urge to pee frequently. The solution is pelvic floor strengthening exercises.
#2 Swollen Vagina and Painful Intercourse
Your body and vagina have been through a lot even if you had a C-section. On top of that, your vagina swells up due to extensive repair going on down there. So, pain and discomfort during penetrative sex are common. You might even not feel like having sex at all. Everything is related to the low secretion of oestrogen.
What you can do here is taking it slow and using OTC lubes. You could also talk to your obstetric care provider for pelvic floor physical therapy to tighten the stretched muscles and kickstart the body’s natural lubricant production to counter dryness. Avoid sitting on hard surfaces.
#3 Excessive Sweating
Let’s just put it this way – you’ll know what “sweating like a pig” really means. Lower levels of oestrogen force the body to lose excess fluids which may leave you feeling sweaty, stinky, drenched all the time. Terrible night sweats, hot flashes, and dehydration are extremely common, but of course, never discussed in mommy circles. This excessive sweating also results in rashes and chafing of the intimate areas.
The only way is through. You’ll have to ride this phase out. However, to not get dehydrated, drink cold water as much as possible, and to address chafing, use a natural anti-chafing and rash cream.
#4 Darkening of Intimate Areas
Pregnancy comes with all kinds of skin changes – first, you glow, and then, you go dark! A common sighting is the darkening of the vertical line that runs over the belly, darkened scars, freckles, moles, darker underarms, back of the neck, vulva, and melasma on the face. While some of the darkness fades slowly, some might be permanent.
To keep them at bay, slather yourself with sunscreen while carrying the child. Later, you could try naturally made lightening potions and serums for intimate areas.
#5 Feeling of Something Falling Out of Vagina
Some women after vaginal delivery visit the gynaecologists with a complaint that something, like a dry tampon, is obstructing the bowel movements. Sensations like these often indicate pelvic organ prolapse, i.e., an internal organ shifting from its original position and pressing against the vaginal wall.
In milder cases, the doctor may advise bed rest to take excess pressure off the abdomen. More severe cases may require surgery.
#6 Looking and feeling different
There are all kinds of “bouncing back” stories out there. For some, it might only take breastfeeding to shed the pounds, while others may take years or may never regain their pre-pregnancy body back. It’s quite common for mothers to look at their reflection in the mirror and see a woman they don’t recognise.
The key here is to focus on your journey. After such a massively transformative experience, it’s not right to hold high expectations from your body. Take your time and don’t be too hard on yourself.
#7 Itchy skin
Pregnancy stretches your skin and muscles to their limits. On top of that, oestrogen level drops. Together, they lead to itchy skin with rashes. Even though you’re sweating, your skin might feel excessively dry, especially in the intimate areas and feet.
#8 Vaginal Discharge
This is another common phenomenon after you’ve bled for six weeks straight. The vagina is not extensively cleaning itself and thus, you see a great deal of white discharge bleaching your panties.
Unless the discharge turns yellow, brown, or yoghurt white and starts to stink, you have nothing to worry about. The best defence is using organic cotton panty liners to keep you dry and rash-free.
#9 Mommy Shaming
You can only wish for the unwarranted, unchecked supply of childbearing and rearing advise to stop after you’ve delivered. Not only will there be unsolicited advice, but also cautionary tales and shaming.
Do NOT start internalising them and neither try to be a know-it-all. Every pregnancy, every child, every mother is different. People will have opinions about how you should raise your child, but don’t let them get to you. If you feel that you need space and want the child to sleep in her crib, then go ahead and do it. If you feel more comfortable with a breast pump and bottle rather than direct latching, then it’s your right to do that.
Every mother makes mistakes. It’s part of the journey. Know that just like your child, you too are taking baby steps. Most of this judgement and negativity coming at you are people’s insecurities. And that has nothing to do with you.
Over to you
Having issues with your post-pregnancy body and trying to change it, is totally normal.
People might tell you to embrace the curves, accept the new life, but we understand that it can be difficult. It’s a whole journey! Especially when your body is not acting the way it used to, it can be tough to feel okay. We know, women don’t talk about that – they put up a bold, strong front and hide how they really feel about themselves. Sometimes, it’s true, other times, it’s peer pressure.
We don’t know the state you’re in, but we’d want you to know that whatever that is, it’s okay.