Common Postpartum Pains
As if being pregnant and becoming a new mom isn’t enough change in your life, managing and dealing with postpartum symptoms after delivery (especially unexpected ones) can add to stress and exhaustion. Most pregnant moms expect to be a little sore after delivery, but you might be surprised to know you may experience weeks—or even months—of these discomforts. Hang in there—remember, these possible pains will pass, and you are beginning a lifetime of joy with your new addition!
While your hormones are adjusting, you might find yourself sweating like there’s no tomorrow. Lyndsey says, “I had no idea I could have night sweats like that! I would wake up soaked!” Tip: place one of the crib pads you have for Baby on your side of the bed to keep your mattress dry!
Many women will tear naturally or have an episiotomy during childbirth, which can cause quite a bit of discomfort afterward. “A third-degree episiotomy made it so painful to change positions!” Tara shares.
If you have had stitches after delivery, going to the bathroom may be difficult. Sara says, “I was terrified to poop after I had my baby. I would say it took me a good month because I was so sore and was scared to push.” Another symptom you may encounter is hemorrhoids. “Painful, annoying and the only part of my recovery that I can complain about,” Kylie says. “I spent so many hours soaking in a warm bath, with my new baby attached to my breast, trying to find relief from the pain and itching. The hemorrhoids stuck around for months.”
Your breasts are likely to be swollen, lumpy and painful until your milk comes in a few days after birth. Using warm compresses or hand expressing a small bit of milk can help ease the discomfort. Breastfeeding can be tough in the beginning while your breasts and nipples get “broken in.” Shawna says, “I had no idea chapped nipples were going to be so painful and intense!”
First-time mom Lindsey says a symptom that surprised her “was the initial cramps after delivery when feeding.” Jenny agrees: “No one told me I’d cramp when I nursed. Totally crummy having nipple pain and cramping simultaneously!”
General aches and pains
I remember after our first child feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. Every fiber of my being hurt and ached. It had never occurred to me that all the pushing, muscle tensing, etc., would cause me to feel like I’d had the most intense workout of my life—and in a sense, I guess I had! Many moms I questioned had other pains as well, ranging from hip and sacrum pain to rib pain to C-section scar pain to joint pain. In fact, one mom says, “I swear I still have a child in my ribs and I haven't been pregnant for over two years! Worst rib pain ever!” Lauren says, “The back pain from constantly holding, changing, nursing and playing were all a big surprise.”
Most postpartum pains vary as much as your pregnancies. What you experience one time, you may not the next, and vice versa. Lauren says, “I’m a NICU nurse, so I’ve been to a lot of deliveries and know you can get really swollen from long, complicated labors…but I still wasn’t expecting to be so incredibly swollen after having my first baby with a relatively quick labor. The second time around, I felt I knew what to expect and plan for but delivered a bigger baby with no swelling at all!”
Kaylee, a postpartum doula and paramedic offers some great insight: “Not being able to get enough restful sleep exacerbates any other symptoms moms may be experiencing. Taking advantage of Baby's naps or calling in helpers are strategies that can help you minimize your recovery time and make life with Baby more enjoyable." Keep in mind as well that while the majority of postpartum pains are normal, you should definitely speak up to your doctor if you are unsure.
Julie Collett writes from Overland Park, where she is pregnant with her fourth and thinks postpartum pains get a bit easier each time!
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.