After going through two unmedicated, vaginal births, there is very little that I find scary or disgusting when it comes to bodily functions. After having a baby, your body is quite literally an open book, with doctors examining, stitching, and looking at areas that until now you would have blushed about. Your body changes in some amazing ways after giving birth, but there are definitely some gross things that happen in the fourth trimester that no one talks about, but should.
Being the researcher that I am, I spent a lot of time during my first pregnancy looking up tips for natural delivery and writing my detailed birth plan. Little did I realize that the weeks after delivery would be almost more trying than the delivery itself. Had I known a bit more of what to expect in the notorious fourth trimester, I would have at least been prepared, instead of shocked and thrown off guard.
In the spirit of transparency, it's not all horrible. After all, you get to hold and bond with the tiny human you spent the past nine months creating. But pregnancy really puts your body through the ringer, and recovering from it all can be rough. But would I do it all again in a heartbeat? Absolutely.
Still, a new mom has to be prepared. So to get you ready for the postpartum life, here are some of the gross things that happen in the fourth trimester.
1You'll Bleed — A Lot
It will be like your heaviest period ever and last way longer. No matter the kind of birth you had, Baby Center noted that you're likely to bleed and have weird discharge, called lochia, for up to a few weeks after giving birth. Luckily, the hospital will give you pads the size of a pull-up to keep it all semi-contained and not-at-all comfortable, since you can't use a tampon because of the risk of introducing bacteria to your healing uterus.
2Your Boobs Will Hurt
During pregnancy, you start to produce colostrum, the liquid your baby will eat before your milk comes in. But according to Kids Health, by about three or four days postpartum, your milk will come in. And by "come in" I mean turn your boobs into giant boulders that look like you got a boob job completely disproportionate to the rest of your body. It will be uncomfortable to say the least, but your body will get the hint and calm down after a few days of engorgement.
3Your Hair Might Fall Out
It probably won't happen right away, but sometime in the months following childbirth, you might think that you're going bald. According to Baby Center, your estrogen levels take a dive after giving birth, causing your hair to shed more quickly than normal. Don't worry, you don't have to go wig shopping just yet though, because your luscious locks should be back to normal at about six to 12 months postpartum.
4Your Feet May Grow
As odd as it sounds, due to the loosening of ligaments that happens as your body prepares for childbirth, The Bump noted that you may go up a shoe size. But you can take comfort in the fact that at least now you get to go shoe shopping.
5It Will Hurt To Pee
I can't even sugarcoat this one to make it sound pleasant. According to Hello Flo, pain during urination can be caused by swelling of the urinary tract and vaginal area, a UTI, any tears that happened during birth, or trauma to the urethra. Luckily, there is medication they can give you to numb the area or lessen the pain, and of course, it goes away as you heal.
6Your Skin Might Revert Back To Your Teen Years
According to What To Expect, due to the rise in hormones after giving birth, you may experience postpartum acne as well as dark spot or discoloring. Like all postpartum "issues", it will resolve itself with a little bit of patience and time.
7It Will Be A Mess Down There
Especially if you had a vaginal delivery, your nether regions will be unrecognizable for at least a few weeks. Although the condition of your not-so-private-parts will vary depending on your delivery, according to The Bump, you should give it a few (up to six) weeks to start feeling back to normal. I'll just say that those postpartum witch hazel pads will be your best friend.