As soon as you become pregnant, your body begins to change. At first a lot of it is internal changes and we can't see what is going on, but quickly enough there begin to be external changes that you can see too. Well, those things stand true for our postpartum bodies too. I think society's perception is that you have your baby then your belly just shrinks back to normal and you can just get back to life the way it was pre-pregnancy, but it doesn't work like that at all. The contracting uterus, the hormones, the hair, the bleeding, the water weight, the baby weight, there are so many things at work in our postpartum bodies. It can really be a whirlwind trying to figure out your postpartum body while trying to figure out your new baby too.
For me, there were two things that came as quite a surprise postpartum. I had developed a line nigra (the brown line) on my belly during pregnancy and it took several months before it finally faded away. I guess because I felt like it appeared over night that it wouldn't take that long to go away but it did take a while before it was completely gone. The other thing that surprised me was exactly how much the size of my chest would grow and shrink with milk! The difference between when I was full of milk and when I was trained fresh after a feeding was almost 2 cup sizes. It's logical that milk would make your chest bigger for me I didn't realize how much bigger!
Here are a few stories from some moms about things that took them by surprise with their postpartum bodies.
The amount of blood! The pain of vaginal stitches, the lack of sleeping, nursing was not easy and didn't feel natural. -Laurie
Biggest surprise- I weigh more after delivery than before! Granted, I had a scheduled c-section due to breech baby at 39 weeks and I got fluids but I had no idea how much. -Catherine
I don't know if it's just me or other moms experienced this as well. I don't think I ever had nosebleeds before in my life. Then in that first week or few days or so, I would get sudden intense nosebleeds out of nowhere. My nose would just start running like a faucet, dripping bright red. - Sharon Lynn Jared (www.sharonisamom.wordpress.com)
For my second postpartum experience, I think my fluctuation in hormones was my biggest surprise. I felt like I had to do everything instead of resting which I feel caused a horrible hormone fluctuation. Kind of like flight or fight mode which in turn was worse for my body than what it really needed which was rest and easing into life as family of 4. - Emma B.
I was told you'd start losing hair after 3 months. I found a bald spot when I was about 41 weeks pregnant. I nearly cried when I showed my midwife. Since then I got another small bald spot. Both were in the most inconvenient places, right near where I part my bangs. I felt so self-conscious about it, because my bangs look thinner there, no matter how I brush them. And just losing lots of hair in the shower and when I brush my hair in general. -Sharon Lynn Jared (www.sharonisamom.wordpress.com)
Everyone's bodies wil handle postpartum a little different but I think it is helpful to hear some experiences from moms who have been there in case you happen to find yourself there after one of your births!
Be proud of your postpartum body. It worked hard and nourished a baby until you could welcome them earth side.
I'd say our bodies are pretty amazing.