I remember the distinct moment the doctor placed my newborn son into my arms. I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was pure euphoria. I remember thinking, “This is it. I’ve done it. I survived the nine months of sickness and discomfort. I survived the extremely painful labor and delivery. Now I can sit back and cherish this sweet little bundle.” Oh, how naïve I was. I had no clue what the next six weeks of recovery would entail.
Postpartum – The Painful Truth: Why is it that in every movie and every story the author depicts a horrific labor and delivery then a completely peaceful ever after? It is ever so misleading… Recovery is painful. I guess it makes sense. You did just push a rather large object out of a rather small hole. There is bound to be stretching and rearranging. Your muscles had the workout of a lifetime. They are going to be sore and they are going to throb. There is going to be a lot of bleeding for quite a while. It takes many uncomfortable weeks for everything to find its way back to its rightful state and some parts won’t ever be the same!
Think about it, your uterus has grown to 500 times its pre-baby capacity. I found the postpartum cramping excruciating. And it only got worse with each child. By the time my third son came around my labor cramps were milder than my postpartum cramps! Only to be reassured again and again that this tremendously painful postpartum cramping was perfectly normal. Normal? NORMAL? Than why didn’t anyone think to mention this during my nine months of gestation?! Where was my warning? I would think that in all the stories I heard regarding pregnancy, labor, and delivery someone would have mentioned something about post partum recovery.
And don’t get me started on breastfeeding. I love breastfeeding. There are about a million reasons why breastfeeding is the ideal way to go. But all good things come with a cost. And in this case the cost is a few weeks of pain…again, from about week two to week six. The pain doesn’t last long, about sixty seconds. But it can really, really hurt. And, again, it seems to get worse with each child. I remember calling my sister (who is a mother of four well nursed babies) when my eldest was about four weeks old. I was sure something was terribly wrong. She quickly eased my fears and reassured me that the pain was, again, completely normal. I felt so betrayed. I couldn’t believe that she never warned me. That nobody had WARNED me.
So consider yourself warned. Recovery can be painful and sometimes it is the most painful part of the birthing experience. But with this warning comes reassurance. The pain I experienced is nothing compared to the overwhelming joy I am blessed with each time I hold one of my sweet little boys. I would gladly endure it all again! There is no pain in the world that could outweigh the overwhelming joy that comes with a newborn baby.
Image Credit: Gaia Photography