You don't know "sore" until you've experienced "postpartum sore." I feel fairly comfortable saying this as someone who couldn't go to school after jumping on her grandmother's exercise trampoline all day, and who finally did the splits at the ripe old age of 32. I've been sore, people, but nothing could've prepared me for the burning ring of fire associated with pushing a baby out. It would be one thing if it was just "down there," but if you're anything like me you'll feel it throughout your entire body. When a postpartum woman says she's "sore," this is what she really means.
I had an epidural with my daughter, but y'all, that sh*t wears off. Maybe that makes it even worse. When the pain medication has worked its way through your body and you're over the initial high of holding your precious baby, the postpartum pain can really knock you off your hemorrhoid-covered ass. Like, what fresh hell is this? That first night in the hospital, I woke up feeling like someone was stabbing me in the taint. You can bet your hospital gown I pressed that call button until my nurse came running.
Exacerbating the entire situation is the fact that they kick you out of the hospital before you feel ready (at least, I felt that way). They hand you some witch hazel pads and send you on your merry way. That means most postpartum care is up to you, and you're trying to care for newborn. You know what's really fun? Needing to change the baby and having to waddle across the room like you have a banana between your legs.
Keep in mind this is coming from a woman who had a vaginal birth. For women who had c-sections, it will probably mean different things entirely, but rest assured, sore doesn't begin to cover what they probably feel postpartum, too.
"My Vagina Has Been Torn Asunder"
I know some lucky women escape unscathed, but for most (and especially if it's your first birth), tearing is an inevitability. It makes sense. I mean, I've seen my vagina in a hand mirror and I'm still surprised I managed to squeeze a 7 pound, 20.5 inch human being out of there without more help.
"My Baby's Giant Head Bruised My Lady Parts"
All hail the magic elasticity of the vagina, but there's only so much it can do when faced with a personal watermelon trying to make its exit. There will be swelling and bruising. Your bruised perineum may make it painful to sit down, and bruising around the bladder and urethra can cause difficulty in urinating.
"I Have Stitches In My Grundle"
How about we slice through your perineum, and you can tell me how it feels? Episiotomies aren't that common anymore, but if you have an assisted birth like I did you're definitely getting one. I didn't feel anything when my doctor was stitching me up, but I definitely felt it later. I mean, of course, it was a freaking wound in my freaking gooch.
"My Hemorrhoids Are Big Enough To Name"
You may have hemorrhoids leftover from pregnancy like me, or you could develop them from the strain of pushing during labor. You know how you felt like you were taking the crap to end all craps? Well, your body got that message. Either way, you're now the proud host to hemorrhoids the size of a Whole Foods mozzarella ball.
"I Have Hot Rocks In My Breasts"
Postpartum soreness doesn't relegate itself to down under. It also invites your boobs to the party. When your milk comes in two to three days after birth, you could find yourself an unwilling victim of engorgement — the miraculous filling of the breast with life-giving nectar in what I can only assume is its solid form.
"My Body Has Turned Against Me"
When you're pregnant, I feel like it's easier to accept that your body isn't your own because, well, it's not. It's now home to another little person who is growing in the safety of your womb. Once that baby is out, however, it's hard not to feel like it's the ultimate betrayal of your body not to immediately go back to "normal."
From back pain to cramping to a vagina that's on fire, everything is the goddamn worst. You will be sore in body parts you didn't know you had before. Did you know your face could ache? If you held tension there during labor, you might feel like a beauty queen after one too many parades.
"Bring Me The Percocet"
When I pressed that call button and told my nurse I was in pain, what I was really saying was, "Give me all the drugs." I think I was afraid to ask for a narcotic. Fortunately, my nurse knew what I needed and forked over something a little stronger than Tylenol.
"Don't Touch Me For At Least A Month"
Partners, when the postpartum woman in your life tells you she's sore, she may really be saying that sex is off the table. It's not just that she doesn't feel like it. Most medical providers recommend waiting for four weeks before engaging in intercourse (six weeks if you have stitches).
"I'm At A 7"
Your soreness is right up there on the pain scale. Unfortunately, now that you've experienced childbirth, your tolerance has gone way up. You're pretty much only going to call a 10 if someone decides to William Wallace you ("Freeeeeeedooooom!"). Just because you can handle it doesn't mean it doesn't suck. So please, friends and family, keep the sympathy coming.