My partner and I did so much research when it came to pregnancy, labor and delivery. In the excitement that was anticipating our son's arrival we did, however, forget to research what we should expect postpartum. Like the majority of my pregnancy and throughout my labor and delivery, my partner was along for the ride; an active participant, despite the fact that, as a cisgender man, he was unable to experience what I was experiencing. It was no surprise, then, that my partner new all the things every grown-ass man knows about his partner's postpartum body, too, sometimes even before I did.
My partner and I have numerous similarities, but we are also different in a lot of way. He likes to be well-researched and plan out every potential scenario and account for every detail, while I am more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person. I like to just take things as they go and while that's, sometimes, beneficial, it rarely works out when you're parenting. I mean, it's great to be able to adjust in real time and learning when to "let things go" is crucial, but when you're a new parent, it's also helpful to know what you're in for so you can be as prepared as possible. So, when I took a shower a day after I gave birth to my son and looked at my postpartum body for the first time, my shock and subsequent freak out was quelled by my partner, who knew what to expect when it came to my postpartum body (and mind).
Honestly, there are things every grown-ass man should know about women's bodies in general, but especially about a woman's postpartum body and especially when that woman is his partner. Here's a starter list of sorts, so all you grown-ass men out there, start taking notes:
Her Body Is Sore
Whether she pushed a baby out of her body, or had a baby cut out of her body, a postpartum body is a sore body. I didn't realize just how sore I would be after having my kid, until I walked out of the hospital and felt like I had been hit by a bus. It hurt to sit; It hurt to stand; It hurt to walk; It hurt to go to the bathroom; It hurt to lie down. Honestly, it hurt to do anything.
Her Body Needs Time To Heal
Unlike the movies, it is going to take time for a woman's postpartum body to heal. It isn't too far fetched to assume that, for a few weeks at least, a postpartum woman is going to need help doing relatively normal, every-day tasks. In fact, I asked my partner to help me put pants on for a solid week after I had our son.
Her Body Is Still Experiencing Changes
The changes a woman's body experiences during pregnancy, don't end when her pregnancy does. A postpartum body is still experiencing a plethora of seemingly endless modifications, up to and including: hair loss, skin discoloration, breast changes, back pain, constipation, swollen legs, and extensive sweating. If that doesn't sound like fun, imagine having to actually go through those changes. A grown-ass man is going to be aware that his partner's body is still adapting to pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum life, and will be accommodating and understanding.
She Might Not Want You To Touch Her Body
After I had my son, short of us co-sleeping and me breastfeeding, I never wanted to be touched. By anyone, including and sometimes particularly my partner. This hurt his feelings at first, until I explained what being "touched out" is, and why I wanted to be left alone.
Her Mental Health Is As Important As Her Physical Health
Your partner's mental health is part of her postpartum body, and as a grown-ass man, it's important to know what the signs of postpartum depression are, and what to do if you think your partner is experiencing them. While your partner's physical health is important, so is her mental health, and a grown-ass man is going to know that mental and physical wellbeing are vital to any postpartum mother (or, you know, any person in general).
"Losing The Baby Weight" Isn't A Thing
You know when your partner lost the "baby weight?" Yeah, after she birthed the baby. Don't talk about losing the baby weight and don't bring up how she hasn't or has lost the baby weight and, honestly, just don't ever say baby weight, because it's not a thing.
Her Body Will Probably Still Look Pregnant
Because a woman's stomach muscles expand and her skin stretches to accommodate a growing fetus, it's completely normal for a woman's postpartum body to look like it did during the first, even second, even third trimester of her pregnancy. I remember looking at my body in the mirror the day after I gave birth to my son, completely shocked that my stomach didn't look like the postpartum stomachs I had seen depicted on television. In fact, I cried. Thankfully, my partner reminded me that my body had been carrying a baby around for nine months and just like it took time for my stomach to expand, it would take time for it to get back to "normal," too.
There Will Be Lots Of Bleeding (And Tampons Aren't An Option)
Like, a lot. A grown-ass man is going to know that, whether you're recovering from a c-section or a vaginal birth, there will be a lot of vaginal bleeding postpartum. A woman's body is essentially ridding itself of all the extra blood it used to sustain another life, and there's only one way to get it out. Not only will a grown-ass man refuse to call this necessary postpartum step "gross," but he will also know that if his partner is completely soaking a menstrual pad every hour, it's time to call the doctor.
Her Body Just Did An Incredible Thing...
The incredible capabilities of a woman's postpartum body will not be lost on a grown-ass man. I vividly remember a moment when my partner just stopped in our kitchen and stared at me, in awe of what I had just accomplished. I was holding our newborn son, so I didn't notice his gaze at first. After a few moments, I asked him why he was staring at me and held onto his response any time I felt uncomfortable or unsure of my body. "I just can't believe your body grew and birthed another human being." I mean, wow. Sometimes, I can't believe it either.
...And That Is More Important Than How It Looks
What a body can do is way more important than how a body looks. Enough said.
Her Body Isn't Ruined
A postpartum body isn't a ruined body. Her vagina isn't ruined; her breasts aren't ruined; her stomach isn't ruined. Nothing is ruined. Nothing. It doesn't matter if she has stretch marks or her hips are wider or her feet are a little larger or she had to get some stitches or she now has a c-section scar, her body isn't ruined. If anything, her body just proved how absolutely incredible and perfect it is.