The first few days, weeks, and even months after giving birth can be strange. Personally, it took me a while to stop feeling "delicate" and start feeling "normal." With a new life to care for, being postpartum is an incredibly challenging, exhausting, and overwhelming. It also looks different for different people, so I asked a few moms to describe what recovering from childbirth is actually like. While stories varied and every person truly does react to labor, delivery, and postpartum life differently, listening to a wide variety of experiences can help any soon-to-be mom get a clearer picture of what's in store for her.
My most surprising physical change post-childbirth was the sheer size of my feet. The effects of the IV drip and all that extra fluid my body took on during pregnancy and labor needed, and was apparently looking for, a place to settle. Where did that fluid end up calling home? My feet, engorging them both to comical proportions. They throbbed, they were painful, and needed to be elevated for a few days before they returned to their regular size. That's to say nothing, mind you, of the emotional changes I experienced after childbirth, too.
In other words, while your definition of "normal" is sure to change after you bring a baby into the world, whatever "normal" becomes will take a while to get used to. Motherhood is just the best, right? If you're about to be a mom and wondering what post-baby life will be like, here's just a few mothers who have been there, done that, and can give you some insight into what recovering from childbirth is actually like:
"I had an uneventful birth and found recovery really easy. I was actually really fighting to get back to exercise and work after a day or two."
"I felt like I had been hit by a truck! I was weak and felt generally a bit sick and down. My partner was amazing, [and looked] after the baby because I needed to sleep."
"I felt sore and heavy, even though I had dropped like 15 pounds after the birth. But I was happy and felt positive. It was all physical for me."
"I don't even remember the first week after I gave birth. It's all a blur. I wore frozen 'padsicles', which helped with my throbbing lady parts, and I had to rest a lot, especially after walking."
"Pooping was the worst. It hurt so much, I ended up avoiding it and made myself more constipated. That was the worst thing for me."
"I had a lot of complications. I had to return to the hospital for a procedure and it was a long, drawn out process. It took me a long time before I felt like I was back to my old self."
"I had twins. Seriously, I didn't have time to think about my own recovery. I just had to get on with it."
"I felt like recovering from childbirth was like going through a complete transformation. I went into it big and round, but intact, and came out deflated, torn, and damaged. Healing is something I think is still going on, years later."
"I bounced back so quickly. My friends are all jealous, but it was easy for me. Within a few days I felt strong and, within a week I was back to yoga and working part-time."
"I gave birth six months ago and I am still recovering. Each day I think I am getting back to where I was, and then I find a new thing that's changed. Like now I have sciatica, so thanks, baby!"
"Recovery after childbirth, for me, involved a lot of blood! Seriously, I had no idea there would be that much, and sometimes it made me feel a bit faint to see it all!"
"It takes time, [and] I was impatient with my body. I wanted to recover completely and immediately, but it does take time. The pregnancy took nine months, so you have to give yourself at least that [same amount of time] to get used to your new normal."