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What Postpartum (Really) Looks Like

What Postpartum (Really) Looks Like

It's beautiful, they say.

Oh sweet postpartum, you delightful blessing. You really are an incredible part of life. Heck, it allows for the glorious evolution of mankind, your husband's last name, and your awesome DNA. #holla

Of all the delightfully painted pictures of postpartum, we're led to believe that we all leave the hospital smelling like flowers, are well rested, fitting right back into our pre-pregnancy clothes, and ready to conquer motherhood with absolute mastery.  

Just look at pictures of the royal family. There may be a few times in life where I've actually thought it would be better to be a man. Seeing sweet Kate roll out of the hospital with her red dress and heels, yea that was definitely one of them. Granted nobody was standing outside the hospital doors snapping photos of me, but if they were... I'd tug my baseball cap lower an adjust my giant maxi pad before shuffling to my car.

Image: Kate Middleton

During pregnancy, you stock up on all the goodies that'll 'make life a breeze' after delivering that perfect little human. You've crossed off all the boxes on that preparatory checklist, giant pads, nipple cream, extra pairs of giant postpartum undies that are a notch cuter than the hospital ones, nipple pads, nursing tank tops, and the list goes on.  

With all this stuff, how hard can it be?  

Here's what they don't tell you:

1. Good luck fitting into pre-pregnancy clothes

I remember my mom telling me she and her best friend both fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes when they left the hospital. I thought to myself, shoot it must be the norm, I guess these 50+ pounds all disappear overnight. Let's do this! I packed my bag with mother loving JEANS after delivering my first child. I rarely wear jeans and have literally no clue what I was thinking, did I think those jeans would impress my husband?  Still clueless, but at least I called an audible and grabbed some yoga pants before heading off to the hospital.

Mom, that was a lot of freaking pressure, why the hell did you tell me that?  Maybe, just maybe I could've squeezed into my jeans, but then we'd be dealing with the mega swollen vagina being wrapped up in tight pants. That reminds me of one of those pork butts that are wrapped up in string at the grocery store.  Just more painful.  

Shit, whatever, dress comfortably going home. There is no reason in hell to stuff your body into pre-pregnancy clothes.  Remember for nearly the past year your body was crafting a perfect little human.

And just a side note, after doing the math in the hospital I had realized I'd be opting for the yoga pants.  An 8-pound baby and 50 pounds of weight gain?  Only so much could be fluids, DAMN those giant burritos that stood by me so eloquently throughout pregnancy.  

2. You will stink

Ladies, listen. There is no sugar coating this and no spray that is going to keep you from the new smells that will emerge from your postpartum body. Your vagina will stink, mixed with the pads and the whatever else you're putting on it, it's a whole new ball game folks.  It's all part of it and if your girls tell you they didn't notice any new smells postpartum, they probably say they don't fart either. Grab some extra undies and lots of pads, girl you will need them.

There's also one other area of new smells. Think about it. Have you ever left milk on the counter on a hot day? Ahem, meet your new boobs. It's a smell that will follow you around now, you've earned it! Whether you have those wonderful little nipple pads or not, a dairy farm you are. You'll find yourself sniffing your way through your bras to find a clean one. Don't worry, you won't miss the ones that have been soiled. Believe that.

3. Shit just hurts

Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a c-section, your shit will hurt. Vaginal deliveries, you just shot a basketball out of your vagina. Things stretch, move, invert, turn, whatever it takes in there to get that baby out. Expect to be swollen and uncomfortable down there for at least a few days. The nurses generally give you a squirt bottle filled with warm water and leave it by the toilet post delivery.  Use it lots and ask for refills. That warm little bottle will be your new best friend.  It's the miracle of life, you've gotta earn it!

C sections, your vagina might be spared if you went straight for the operating room, but your stomach will hurt. Instead of the basketball being shot out your vagina, it was pulled from your lower abdomen. You've just had a major surgery and need to take it easy.

I always found that an oxymoron, take it easy and take care of a newborn at the same time? Nonetheless, it hurts. Stay on top of your medication to keep the pain to a minimum. You'll be glad you did.

Image:  from Becky Barnicoat

4. Comfort wins, every time

You are a sexy mama that brought a new human into the world. That is flipping beautiful. Stay away from tight-fitting clothes for a bit, let your body breathe. If you've had a vaginal birth, try yoga pants, maxi dresses, or straight up stay home and be naked. You need to heal. C sections, high waisted yoga pants, loose-fitting dresses... or yeah, naked again.  

Just stay home, tell the visitors to beat it and be naked actually.  Forget the other suggestions entirely.

5. Sex? F*** that.

I know it's humanly possible to get pregnant pretty quickly after giving birth, but what the actual f***?  Zero part of me wanted anything to do with sex for months after delivery. 

If you're breastfeeding, your nurse will tell you it's not birth control just because you're not getting your period temporarily. I remember looking at my nurse after that conversation like I had just seen Michael Jackson come back to life. WHY are we talking about sex?! Remember the basketball image from above, that really did happen.  

I didn't feel an ounce of sexy postpartum. My husband on the other hand, he was ready to go in the hospital room. Don't touch me, don't breathe on me and for the love of God don't even think about looking at my swollen vagina that way.

And these awesome porn star boobs, they're just a tease. They really f***in' hurt.

6. Giant undies for the win.

Whichever way you deliver, you will be given a miraculous gift. Well, two I suppose, you get your baby, yes, but I'm referring to the giant mesh underwear they give you afterward. You will look at them for the first time wondering if you have ever seen something so hideous, but you will put them on wondering why you don't already own a pair.  

With those delightful undies, you can do many things, well, a few great things. For starters, you will need a pad that resembles a small boat to shove in your underwear after giving birth. Those giant undies will house that boat nicely.  

They're not tight and restrictive, so they'll give your swollen vagina lots of room to heal. If you've had a c-section, you can stick a boat (pad) across the top waistband to protect your incision. #respect

They'll also let your goodies air out. Yes, the stink will come out, but it'll allow for faster healing. Think of falling down and scraping your knee, you don't leave the bandaid on forever, you give it air and the body takes care of the rest.  


Postpartum ladies, don't let any of this scare you. If it does, think of the millions of women having babies this year and realize, you're in good company.  

Now go have that baby. 

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