8 Things That Totally Shocked Me About Postpartum Recovery

Postpartum recovery is not PRETTY – Do not read this if you are squeamish

Do not read this if you are easily disgusted, or if you are going to comment here and tell me how gross it is that I wrote about this stuff, or that I have no filter. (I won’t publish those comments anyway, and I already know I have no filter.) New momma’s NEED to be prepared for postpartum recovery, and they NEED the details. This is all the stuff I wish I had known and tips for faster postpartum recovery.

Do not read this if you are a dude, unless you are married to a very pregnant lady and want to be supportive.

But DO read this if you are pregnant, (maybe especially if you are pregnant for the first time).


And, if this is you (pregnant for the first time), please know that I’m not writing this stuff to scare you. I’m a high anxiety personality – I scare VERY easily – and that is NOT my intention with this post. But I’m gonna lay it all out there for you, because sometimes we girls gotta do these things for each other.

So let me just remind you before we start – it gets better. What ever ends up going in with your body postpartum… make this your motto: This Too Shall Pass! 

I read all the articles I could find online about what to expect in regards to postpartum recovery, and none of them mentioned these things (well, except for the blood and the crying – and yet I was still shocked by those). Not all things happen to all people, but some things happen  to some people, and it’s good to be prepared for these things regarding postpartum recovery if you can.

(I had an uncomplicated, run-of-the-mill vaginal birth, and I’m sure that in other circumstances there would have been even more things to shock me. Keep this list of postpartum hacks handy, in case you are as shocked as I was by the experience.)

(By the way, if you are reading this PRE-delivery and aren’t sleeping anymore – grab yourself  a pregnancy pillow (to make sleeping easier – hopefully) @ with the code mommyonpurpose50 – a 50$ discount – just for my readers ♥.)

Related: The Hands-down Best Labor Advice EVER
Related: Should You Bother Taking a Prenatal Class?
Related: How to Speed Up Postpartum Recovery 

8 things I was totally unprepared for about postpartum recovery

The blood.

OK, this one I did read about this in other articles, but they didn’t make it clear how truly messy it is. For the first day (or maybe two or three) you’ll stand in the shower (if you can stand) with blood running down the drain. You’ll try to sit down to pee and discover that in the time it takes to get your giant underwear up / down the blood might make it all the way to your socks.

They’ll give you nice white towels in the hospital (because you can bleach the heck out of white and make it white again). Don’t assume it’s possible to get dry without making the towels gross. And don’t wear your favorite socks. (And once you get home, don’t leave your nice bath mat in front of the toilet. I had to buy a new bath mat.)

(These undies were a life-saver during that first week. I don’t even know how you’d get “competent” sized pads (like these) into regular undies.)

The general feeling of my lady bits.

I expected pain. (And, you might be pleased to know that the pain wasn’t quite as bad as I expected it to be.) I did NOT expect that when I stood up for more than a minute it would feel like everything was going to… fall out. An intense and uncomfortable downward pressure. Sort of like the baby’s head was still there (not the burning feeling, just the pressure.)

And this lasted for over a week. (I’ve heard great things about this pain relief spray– I didn’t manage to get any ordered in time – squishy babe came a few weeks early!)

If you want some solid tips for easing pain after birth read this: How to Heal FASTER After Vaginal Delivery (these are the best postpartum healing tips you’ll ever read!)

The general feeling of my other bits. 

It felt like there was a golf ball lodged between my bum cheeks for days. ( I did use this magical cream for hemorrhoids. Why isn’t EVERYONE talking about this stuff?)

The first poop.

I had heard about the first poop being scary and painful– that wasn’t unexpected. I had not ever heard about the first poop being uncontrollable. Yes, I pooped myself postpartum. Three times, in fact.

(FYI – this probably won’t happen to you. After much googling and discussion with my dr, it is NOT a common occurrence. But sometimes, that muscle can be damaged or shocked for a while.)

How much it hurt to pee.

I had also read about this in other posts, but again, not prepared for the intensity. Everything I read said the peri-bottle would make it easier. I hated that freaking peri bottle. It did NOT help. NOTHING helped. I even tried sitting in a bath tub with water covering my lady bits and peeing in the tub. THAT didn’t help.

To be fair, it wasn’t so bad for the first four days, and then we spent a day sitting on a hard ER bed with our five day old baby. That seemed to be the last straw for my down theres. 

I did find out eventually How to Pee Postpartum Without Crying.

The smell.

You are covered in blood and leaking all manor of things, and you can’t use soap. (Even if you could use soap, I bet you’d have to be sadistic to want to.)

After the first few days I started taking postpartum sitz baths (in a bath tub of 3 inches of very warm water, epsom salts and lavender essential oil twice a day for at 20 minutes). This was great for the pain and it really helped to keep things a little less… icky.

The crying.

I am an emotional person – I get the tears sometimes – but I am not a big “ugly cry-er”. I cried maybe 6 times my whole pregnancy… that’s a lot for me, but pregnancy is hard.

Turns out postpartum is also hard. I probably cried 6 times in the 24 hours following delivery. And 6 times in the next 24 hours. And it did not stop there.

I cried on and off for about a month.

How scary it is to have a baby.

No, not to push a baby out. To have a baby, here in the world that you can’t control. From the moment that baby leaves your body, there’s only so much you can do to protect him and that is scary. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not normal to be exhausted but still not sleeping because you need to watch him breathing.

I don’t think there is anyway to prepare yourself for this… but it’s normal.

Related: The Best Postpartum Advice You’ll Ever Get

All these things are normal.

(With the exception of the pooping. Thank goodness.)

FYI, peeing yourself postpartum – even after you’ve healed – is TOTALLY normal, unfortunately, and it signals weak pelvic floor muscles. You’ll want to heal and strengthen your entire pelvic floor. (Also same if you feel like your tummy will NEVER shrink back down. it’s all core + pelvic floor!)

Holding a baby for 9 months straight is HARD work. The Postpartum Cure is a SUPER AFFORDABLE eating and workout plan for healing and strengthening your pelvic floor and getting rid of the mommy tummy WITHOUT causing further damage.

It includes meal plans, grocery lists, explanations of how to heal and strengthen the pelvic floor, and best of all, it will help you get your body back! Check out The Postpartum Cure here.

There is no REAL way to totally prepare for the postpartum recovery period, but if I could tell you any one thing and have you take it to heart it’s this – it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. 

With the exception of the pooping. THAT really was awful.

(Ok, I know I’ve probably brought you down, so allow me to make it up to you… go ahead and use the coupon code mommyonpurpose50, and grab yourself one of these adorable hooded bath towels FOR FREE, to cheer you up. Seeing your itty-bitty all wrapped up in it will make the suffering worth while ♥. )

Related: The Things You ACTUALLY NEED in Your Hospital Bad
Related: How to get Over 500$ Worth of FREE Stuff for Baby

everything no one talks about postpartum recovery


what shocked me in postpartum recovery

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37 thoughts on “8 Things That Totally Shocked Me About Postpartum Recovery”

  1. The one thing I would like to add is while in recovery do your keggels. I lost control of my bladder. I asked my nurse if this was normal and she said yes. I asked how do I fix it? She said start doing your keggels. It helps tighten your muscles down there. I am currently expecting #2 and am almost half way. I try to remember everyday (it’s a challenge) to do my keggels. I am hoping when I have this one I won’t lose control of my bladder.

    • YES!! I KNOW I need to be more diligent to keggel. I have been pretty lucky and not had too many bladder issues but I have friends who pee constantly now.

    • If only I knew about keggels sooner. Its been 4 weeks and still can’t control my baldder! ?

      • Aw I’m sorry Diana! It will get better – healing takes time. (And if it doesn’t get better, there is a small procedure you can have done to correct that – just wait till you’re done having kids!)

  2. I pooped myself too. Lol. I tried getting out of the hospital bed 1 day pp and had a massive blowout. The nurse told me to say “No thanks!” on the senna that evening. 4 days pp now and everything is still in shock/healing. Can’t wait to do my kegels again.

    • O I’m so sorry to hear that Claudia – but also so glad to know I’m not the only one!! I PROMISE – it get’s better. Congrats on the new babe by the way!!

      • How did you deal with the pooping thing? Did you go back to being able to control your bowels again just with time? Currently happening to me and i am freaking out!

  3. Based in London and came across this blog. I’m 30 weeks pregnant… This was funny, informative and truthful all at the same time.. Love it. Although I’m so not looking forward to the birth or the after birth. Nicely written… Thank you.

    • SO glad you enjoyed the post Shima! And don’t worry – the birth and after the birth part both go relatively quickly and it’s all a blur of emotions and new things and love and it DOES get better 😉 !!

      • It has been 32 years since #6 was born, but I still remember how painful the after birth contractions were. But when #5 was born there weren’t any, my nurse didn’t massage my belly and 9 days later I was passing blood clots the size of cantelopes. So with the last one I was grateful for them.

  4. Great tips! I just had my third baby and I’m not gonna lie… it doesn’t get any easier. But you do know what to expect at least.
    As far as the poop thing… I had the opposite problem. I was sooo constipated I thought I was going to rip my stitches (sorry tmi). It’s actually more common to have constipation post partum so I always tell everyone… take the stool softeners!!!

    • HI Amy! (Can I just say I LOVE the name of your blog?!) Great point about the stool softeners – I agree that for the most part you should take ’em! I don’t think there is a dignified way to do having babies lol…

  5. Before this week, Recovery hadn’t entered my mind yet and finding your blog gives me so much hope! Im pregnant with my first and basically clueless about everything. I can’t wait to scour your webpage. Thank you for laying it all out there!

    • HI Melodie!! We all start out clueless about everything – I promise 😉 Congrats on the babe!!

  6. Great post! I had a not so normal vaginal birth. I also pooped myself the first i was in the little thing at the hospital for the sitz bath. I also couldn’t control my bladder but I also had a catheter in for 4 days. The pain relieving spray was the most amazing stuff for me. Soon to be mommies don’t worry it’s all worth it!!

    • Hey Patty! yup – birth is just a messy messy time. No way through it but… through it. (And yes TOTALLY WORTH ALL OF IT!)

  7. Thank you so much for this! We just found out we are pregnant with our first and there is not a lot of information on taking care of yourself after birth! This is the best article I’ve read! Thank you for writing this all out!

    • Thank you Lauren!! I am SO GLAD you enjoyed this 🙂 Please do share it around! And HUGE CONGRATS on your first babe – savor every moment.

  8. Super informative and helpful! I’m a few weeks away from having my second baby boy and wish I found this with my first!! Helpful and not scary, thanks for sharing !!

    • So glad you enjoyed it – (And I’m glad it’s not scary 🙂 That is never my intention!!) Congrats on babe #2!

  9. The most calming advice I ever got in regards to the watching-to-make-sure-they’re-breathing thing was from a first aid for kids class. Quick answer: if they are pink they’re breathing. Unfortunately this works less well at night.

  10. Thank you for this! I had the same experience with bowel movements after giving birth and your post made me feel so much better about it!

    • Oh my goodness it’s not exactly a barrel of kittens is it?! (Honestly, it helps ME to know that I’m not alone too lol. Thank you!)

  11. 4 days PP after a VBAC. Terrible labor for about 20 hours before epidural, but a really fast delivery 10 hours after that. Still better than C-section, but whole new set of problems. Wish I had been more prepared for a bruised tailbone, hemorrhoids, and “skid marks” ( but I’m extremely grateful I didn’t tear, so no stitches!) Also, I think my milk came in full force right away before baby was ready to empty each side. But hey, there aren’t many things I wouldn’t do for a healthy and cute baby!

    • Ungh – those first few days are hard… (but. YAY for no stitches! way to be positive!) Congrats on the new babe 🙂 It will get better!!

  12. Gosh, the crying was the worst for me (and probably because I had c-sections vs vaginal delivery) but good god I cried for everything and about everything the first month. I was crying more than the baby! :/

    • I TOTALLY GET THAT. all the crying. It’s brutal. lol

  13. What I didn’t expect was how different recovery has been all 3 times! Soreness, bleeding, hormonal changes and total healing on the outside and inside as well. Each time I’ve had a slightly different experience than before. My advice to first time mamas: DO NOT LOOK “DOWN THERE”. Seriously, resist all temptation to see the trauma your body endured. It can be kind of frightening. Give yourself the gift of time!!

  14. I love honest posts about pregnancy and postpartum. I was very naieve after my first and suffered postpartum anxiety and depression.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  15. Thanks for the info. My husband and I have not been married long, but talk about having kids and it scares the living EVERYTHING out of me!!! I don’t know if i can do it. I am completely terrified. Every bit of pregnancy and childbirth and postpartum sounds horrific to me, and I can’t wrap my head around going through it. I love kids though, and I want to have at LEAST one of our own, so I guess I’ll have to suck it up and get over it… Still totally terrifying, but it seems being more prepared might help.

    Thanks again.

    • IT does seem terrifying, but once you’ve done it it’s REALLY not that bad and totally worth it 🙂


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