Allow me to begin with one huge disclaimer: nothing about periods in general, or postpartum periods in particular, is embarrassing. They are normal and just something certain bodies do. Still, we're members of society who can be embarrassed by normal body things. Farting is normal, but I feel embarrassed if I fart in public, you know? So when you get your first postpartum period you're bound to be embarrassed by what follows... even if it's all normal and shouldn't, in a perfect world, elicit such a response.
The thing that makes postpartum periods their own unique beast is their complete lack of predictability. They are wily and wild. Unknowable. Untamable. Often, they bear little resemblance to any period we had before we had babies. It's like when your parents sent you to summer camp when you were 12 and you came back speaking with an accent and insisting your name was Rebellia Nightshade. Clearly you were the same child, but oh boy were you behaving very differently and your parents likely had little to no clue what in the hell was going on.
And, like your weird Rebellia Nightshade phase, postpartum periods are normal... but just a little bit embarrassing because come on, body, WTF? So if you find yourself feeling uneasy as you navigate the following, know that you're not alone. It's normal, but, you know, pretty damn weird, too.
When It Catches You By Surprise
The most potentially embarrassing thing (and, again, it's more "embarrassing" because these are our bodies and there's nothing to be ashamed of here... but still...) is that period showing up at what could be considered an inopportune time. You could be one of those people who really doesn't skip a beat after you give birth or you could go, like, two years without a period. Both scenarios are completely possible and relatively normal, depending on whether you're breastfeeding. So you could definitely find yourself surprised when Aunt Flo decides to show up.
When You Think You're "Missing" Your Period
Because even though you know that it may be a while before you get your period (again, especially if you're breastfeeding), it's something upon which many of us have come to rely on in order to orient how we feel and even exist within our bodies. So even though you know it's normal you can also feel like something is wrong. That feeling can understandably put you on edge which is, of course, not always the cutest look.
When You "Leak"
Guys I can't tell you how many pants, chairs, sheets, mattresses, and underwear I stained during my first postpartum period. It was, in a word, awful.
When You Wear A Pad & Your Period Doesn't Show Up
Particularly if you're lactating, your periods after baby can be a bit irregular for a while, which can mean spotting. If you're not used to that, it can make you think your period has arrived, or is at least forthcoming. So then you're sitting around in a pad or those period underwear or even a cup or tampon and there's no period to be seen for weeks or months you feel, well, kinda dumb.
When You're Googling Gross Stuff
"Postpartum period blood clot size of grape"
"Postpartum period lots of blood"
"Postpartum period weird color"
Oh, the things you will Google. Make sure you delete that search history, my friends.
When You Do That Happy Dance Because Your Not Pregnant
I get it, but you need to calm down. Show some restraint.
When You Feel Like A Teenager All Over Again
It's just been such a very long time since you've had a period (and, let's face it, your body has changed, which is a very reasonable thing to have happened after you delivered an actual baby), so this postpartum period kinda feels like the first period you ever had. All of a sudden you're 15 and trying to figure out how a damn tampon works.
When You're Emotional
While the immediate postpartum period is the first six weeks after delivery, the actual postpartum period lasts about a year after birth. That can include a new mom's emotional trajectory, especially when you throw in period hormones! And having "feels" is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by, especially if there are issues such as postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety at play.
But speaking as someone whose experience (thankfully) was more run-of-the-mill, I can look back and see a little bit comedy in just how emotional the lingering postpartum hormones (and experience) made me. And it's totally reasonable that would be the case! But, like, I'm generally a pretty emotional person. During my first couple postpartum periods? OMG. I'm shocked I didn't dehydrate because everything made me sob.
When It Starts & Stops All Over The Place
If you've ever been on a subway in New York City and had it randomly stop in the middle of a tunnel, only to start back up for about three seconds, only to stop again, then you know how a postpartum period can be. It's so irregular, you guys, I can't stress this enough. And, of course, that lends itself to either staining everything because you think you're done, or sitting around in a pad for a week feeling like a diaper baby.
When Your Boss Comes In As You're Tracking Your Period On A Spreadsheet Labeled "My Period"
OK, so this may be a highly specific incident but it absolutely happened and it was mortifying.