By Danielle and Rustina, Contributing Writers
Postpartum is a sensitive and challenging time for new and experienced mamas. Let’s talk about if what you’re going through is normal, or if you should reach out for help.
Postpartum is a delicate time. You are exhausted, emotional, and overworked. You are learning the ropes of taking care of a brand new human, and trying to heal yourself.
Even for experienced mamas, sometimes we wonder “is it normal?”
Check out this quick review of common questions and concerns, and when to seek help.
Is It Normal to have … Postpartum?
If you just pushed a baby out, chances are you will be rather sore down there. That’s normal, but vaginal pain from tearing should ease within a few days, and completely (or nearly) go away in 6 weeks. If at your postpartum appointment you still experience pain, be sure to mention it. You can also try this DIY: Postpartum Tea for After-Birth Pain
You may also have hemorrhoids. This is normal, but if it is painful or past the 6 weeks, it’s a good idea to bring it up. Good hydration and herbs can go a long way towards helping hemorrhoids.
Now, let’s talk about something not comfortable – sex after delivery. Don’t expect to be comfortable having sex after delivery until after 6 weeks postpartum, or longer. Be upfront with your partner about how you feel and don’t push yourself.
Learn more in Earthley’s Postpartum Recovery Guide
After having a baby, most women have a heavy cycle lasting a week to four weeks. If you are still bleeding at your postpartum 6-week check up, be sure to mention it to your provider. It may be normal, but it may also be a sign of an issue. Often, this is because you are overdoing it and need more rest. Be sure to ask for help, locate a postpartum doula, nanny or housekeeper if you need more time to recover.
Not Normal: Ongoing bleeding beyond that may be a sign of lingering tissues in the uterus, and should be checked out.
Night sweats are normal as your body is going through huge hormonal changes. They should only last for a few days, or at most a week or two, though. If you are having temperature fluctuations throughout the day that are extreme (lasting longer than three weeks post your delivery date), it may be a good idea to contact your physician. After delivery, if you have any fever, it’s best to contact your physician right away to rule out a uterine infection, which is serious.
Lack of Support/Feeling Helpless
You’re not alone. We simply don’t have the villages and community feels that mothers need in today’s world. Do your best to build one – find a mom’s group at your local church or community, have a friend set up a meal train, and be very vocal about what you need (and what you don’t need). It’s okay to turn away visitors if you don’t feel up to it, but remember it is good sometimes too. It is especially helpful if any visitors might help a little or bring a meal!
It is going to take awhile to get back to your old routine, so don’t expect to feel totally you until at least 3 months after the baby. Cancel commitments and find ways to delegate chores and responsibilities. Take Postpartum Balance to help with your hormones, DIY: Postpartum Tea for Depression, and check out 10 Ways to Treat Postpartum Depression Naturally.
If the feelings of loneliness and helplessness are constant, causing anxiety, and just heavy, it may be time to talk to your physician or a counselor. Postpartum is a difficult time for everyone, and many mothers need extra assistance. Consider supplementing to help yourself, too. Many mothers experience panic, destructive thoughts, and extreme anxiety. If this is you, seek help right away. You are not alone.
You’re starving, and that’s normal. You just grew a baby, birthed it, now supplying all the food, and meeting the little one’s every need. A nursing mother needs at least an extra 300 calories per day, so stock up! If you are absolutely starving all the time, you may need to look at what you are eating. Is it whole, nourishing foods? You need plenty of good fats, good proteins, fresh organic produce, and whole grains. Maybe a liver supplement is in order. If you need recipes, check out our Recipe Collection, A Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding Nutrition, or Kate’s cookbook Wholesome Real Food Favorites.
Like the rest of our bodies, our breasts go through substantial changes post delivery. Now, you have to make food for another human being – don’t forget how monumental that is! You will experience some swelling as your breasts adjust to breastfeeding. Be sure that you are eating an extra 300 calories a day while breastfeeding, and drinking over 64 ounces of filtered water. If you experience severe tenderness when feeding, have your little one checked for a tongue or lip tie by a knowledgeable lactation consultant. Use Earthley’s Breast Balm for sore or cracked nipples.
If you have serious swelling or a fever, you may have a clogged duct or mastitis. Keep Natural Remedies for Mastitis on hand for these situations.
Hair loss after delivery is normal – normally starting a month or two after delivery and lasting a few weeks. Our hair naturally falls out – all the time – but stops doing so during pregnancy. After delivery, more hair falls out than usual because all the hair which didn’t fall out during pregnancy finally does. If your hair thins considerably (but remember, it likely will be thinner than when you’re pregnant) or continues past a few months, it’s time to mention it to your doctor, or try a natural hair supplement with Biotin, iodine, horsetail, or rosemary. You can learn more in Earthley’s Ultimate Natural Hair Care Guide
Be easy on yourself mama. This is a difficult time, but you will get through it. Your baby isn’t looking for perfection, he just needs you to be present and healthy – so balance yourself and ask for help when you need it.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.