8 Postpartum Tips Every New Birthing Parent Needs, Straight from your Chicagoland Birth Photographer

Ready for some real talk about postpartum life? In this blog post, I’m dishing the honest, unfiltered truth about what to expect after giving birth—the stuff that no one seems to talk about. Buckle up, because we're about to get real, raw, and maybe even a little bit TMI—but hey, that's what friends are for, right?

(1) This is one most moms aren’t expecting and that is... the first bowel movement after giving birth can be scary and painful.

Let's face it, nobody wants to talk about bowel movements, but it's important to prepare for it after giving birth. Stool softeners can make the process easier by softening the stool and preventing constipation. It's also important to drink plenty of fluids, such as water or prune juice, to keep your body hydrated and to help with bowel movements.

Trust me, taking care of yourself in this way can make a world of difference and help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

(2) You might experience night sweats as your body gets rid of the excess fluid from pregnancy.

Night sweats can be surprising and uncomfortable, but they're a normal part of the postpartum experience. Your body has been holding onto extra fluid during pregnancy, and after giving birth, it needs to get rid of it. This can lead to sweating during the night, which can be uncomfortable and even wake you up. One way to deal with night sweats is to wear lightweight pajamas and use breathable bedding. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

(3) Postpartum bleeding can be heavy and last for up to six weeks.

You got to skip out on your period for 9 months and now it’s back with a vengeance!

Time to stock up on heavy-duty pads and avoid tampons. Always make sure to reach out to your care provider if you're concerned! I sent many a clot photo to my midwives in the first days postpartum with miscellaneous bathroom objects for scale. They're used to it! A postpartum doula can also be very helpful and a wealth of information!

(4)Your nipples will hurt, crack and bleed.

Breastfeeding is natural right? That’s what I was told - but I was never told how much it might hurt those first couple of days and how much nipple cream I’d blow through in 24 hours! Your breasts might leak milk and be sore, even if you're not breastfeeding. Nursing pads + nipple cream are a lifesaver.

(5) It's common to feel sad in the first few days after giving birth.

Everyone says becoming a mom is the best feeling ever, right? Not for everyone, and that’s ok!! The first few days after giving birth can be an emotional rollercoaster, and it's common to feel a range of emotions, from joy to anxiety to sadness. These feelings are often referred to as "baby blues" and are a normal part of the postpartum experience. BUT, if these feelings persist or get worse, it's important to seek help from a healthcare provider. Postpartum depression is a serious condition that affects many new moms, and it's important to get the support you need to feel better.

(6) It's important to take care of your perineum if you had a tear or episiotomy. Ice packs, witch hazel pads, and sitz baths can provide relief.

If I hear someone else on social media talking about “bouncing back” after having a baby, I might lose it. One thing rarely talked about is that it’s ok to take months or years to recover!

If you had a tear or episiotomy during delivery, it's important to take care of your perineum as it heals. This can be a painful and uncomfortable process, but there are things you can do to make it easier. You can use ice packs, witch hazel pads, or sitz baths to reduce swelling and pain. Padsicles are a popular DIY solution for postpartum relief. They are essentially frozen pads that are infused with soothing ingredients like witch hazel, aloe vera, and lavender oil.

Here's how to make padsicles:

  1. Gather your supplies: You'll need heavy-duty pads (such as overnight pads), witch hazel, aloe vera gel, lavender oil, and a large plastic bag.
  2. Mix the ingredients: In a bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of witch hazel, 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel, and a few drops of lavender oil. Stir until well combined.
  3. Open the pads: Unwrap the pads, but leave the adhesive backing on. This will help the padsicles stick to your underwear.
  4. Applythemixture:Usingaspoonorbrush,applythemixturetothetop of the pad. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the pad.
  5. Fold the pads: Fold the pads back up and place them into the plastic bag. Make sure they're flat and not folded.
  6. Freeze the pads: Put the plastic bag with the folded pads into the freezer and freeze until they're completely frozen, which usually takes a few hours.
  7. Use the padsicles: When you're ready to use the padsicles, remove them from the plastic bag and peel off the adhesive backing. Place the pad in your underwear with the frozen side against your skin. The coolness of the frozen pad can provide relief from swelling and soreness.

That's it! Padsicles are an easy and cost-effective way to get relief from postpartum discomfort. Just be sure to change the padsicles as needed throughout the day, and discard used pads in the trash.

(7) You might think you’re going bald with all the hair loss.

You might be alarmed to see a lot of hair falling out after having a baby! But don't worry, postpartum hair loss is actually quite common and temporary for many new birthing folks. This happens because during pregnancy, hormonal changes cause hair to enter a resting phase, leading to less shedding. After giving birth, your hormone levels start to return to normal, and your hair begins to shed the extra strands it held onto during pregnancy.

Postpartum hair loss usually starts a few months after delivery and can last for several months. To minimize the effects, try using gentle hair care products, avoiding tight hairstyles, and maintaining a balanced diet. Rest assured, your hair will gradually return to its normal growth cycle, and the shedding should slow down.

(8) It's okay to feel overwhelmed and to ask for help.

Listen, it's totally okay to feel overwhelmed after bringing a new human into the world.

After all, you're doing one of the most important jobs ever! So, if you need help, don't be afraid to shout it from the rooftops. Seriously, nobody expects you to be Superhuman.

Your friends, family, and healthcare providers are there for you, just waiting to lend a hand or a listening ear. Whether you need advice on how to soothe a fussy baby, some company during those late-night feedings, or just someone to hold the baby while you take a much-deserved shower, PLEASE reach out.

Remember, asking for help doesn't make you weak—it makes you wise! Read that again!!

Because taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your little one.

I hope reading Navigating Postpartum Life: 8 Must-Know Tips from Your Chicagoland Birth Photographer has given you some solid ideas! If you’re still looking for a Photographer, click here to see my portfolio of images.