Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

9 Things I Wish I'd Known About Taking Care Of My Postpartum Body

Ad failed to load

I have been a pretty health-conscious person throughout my entire adult life. Maybe a bit too health-conscious, actually; focusing on diet and exercise to a degree that was not good for my mental health. After having a baby, it was difficult for me to feel great about all I accomplished, because I didn't feel great about myself and my postpartum body. To make matters worse, I don't really remember anyone telling me much about how to take care of my body. Turns out, there are so many things I wish I'd had known about taking care of my postpartum body, because that body was and is amazing and I deserved some TLC.

I think one of the many reasons why most postpartum women don't take care of their bodies sufficiently, is because, as a society, we're not openly and honestly and realistically discussing postpartum bodies. So, I'm going to be brutally honest with you. Knowledge is power, and you can't know how to take care of yourself if you don't know what to expect. So, if you have a vaginal delivery, peeing afterward involves a burning, searing pain for at least a few days. I iced it, took a sitz bath, used a bidet, used numbing spray, and even then I could only pee if I was squirting warm water on my perineum simultaneously. Guys, it was bad, and my first postpartum poop was even worse.

Then, I found myself peeing when I didn't want (or expect) to, so I honestly started to think my body will never quite work right again. My uterus contracted painfully. My nipples bled. My vulva was so sore that I couldn't imagine ever having sex again. Hell, I couldn't even get out of bed without help. Add to that a few extra pounds that I tried so desperately to lose and a lack of will to do most things (including eat or drink enough to feel OK) and, well, postpartum life just sucked.

Ad failed to load

Now that I have lived through three births, I want to share a few things I wish I had known about how to take care of myself after delivery. Read on for some real advice about showing yourself some self-love.

Ad failed to load

Use Stool Softeners

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

Your first postpartum poop will likely really hurt. If you deliver vaginally, like I did, your vulva and perineum might be a torn up, stitched up mess. If you deliver via c-section, you will have a new incision and the constipating effects of anesthesia to contend with. In other words, and regardless of the mode of delivery, your first poop will hurt.

Mine hurt so bad I took pain meds, which unfortunately compounded the problem. If I could go back in time and give myself one piece of postpartum pooping advice, I would tell myself to take stool softeners at regular intervals after delivery.

Take Care Of My Vagina Properly

If you have a vaginal delivery, peeing is terrible. I used an entire can of numbing spray in one day and then called the nurse line, because I was afraid I had overdosed on the stuff. After three vaginal deliveries, I can tell you that the best ways to love your vagina (vulva and perineum) after delivery are to use newborn diapers full of ice or pads soaked in tea and frozen. The numbing spray also helped, as did using a peri-bottle to squirt warm water on my labia while I peed.

Postpartum life is so glamorous.

Use Lube


When you (and your vagina) feel ready to try having postpartum sex, trust me when I say that lube is a must. I recommend grabbing a few kinds to see what you prefer. Water-based is easy to clean-up and gentle, silicone-based is silky and long lasting.

Oh, and ave fun.

Ad failed to load

Yoga Pants Are Life

I wish someone would have told me to bring yoga pants to the hospital when I had my daughter. Not only were my pre-pregnancy pants not gonna fit over my postpartum belly, but I deserved to be comfortable after birthing a tiny human.

Prevent Pee Accidents Efficiently


It seems like I pee myself a little every day. When I laugh, cough, sneeze, and definitely when I workout. Seriously, I will probably never jump on a trampoline again. I knew that this might happen, but it was still annoying AF and more than a bit embarrassing. The good news is that there are pelvic floor exercises you can do to help, and you can wear a menstrual cup or pessary to prevent leaks, or even a pad until things get back to normal.

Drink More Water

After having a baby, I totally needed to drink more wine. Kidding. Guys, I'm totally kidding.

While a glass of wine did taste really awesome, after nine months of pregnancy, what I really needed to drink was more water. It's so easy to get dehydrated when you are trapped on the couch under a newborn, which can really impact your postpartum recovery.

Ad failed to load

Eat Enough


I was starving postpartum, but because I was so motivated to lose the "baby weight" I seriously didn't eat enough. I wish I could go back and tell myself that taking care of my postpartum body was much more important than losing weight.

Have Nipple Cream On Hand

No one told me how much breastfeeding would hurt. In fact, the class I took and hospital lactation consultant pretty much told me that hurting was a sign I was doing something wrong. If you plan on breastfeeding, my advice is to buy a non-lanolin-based nipple cream in advance. Your nipples will thank me.

Take Things Slow


I have a tendency to over-do things, you guys. I wish I had known to take things slow, especially when it came to getting back into a routine and working out. Growing humans and birthing them is seriously badass. I should have told myself that every da, and then I should have let myself lay low for a little while longer.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills