Postpartum Stories

Being Postpartum After Delivering a Stillbirth Baby

HOW TO SUPPORT A MOM AFTER STILLBIRTH

When Taylor experienced a stillbirth, so much was unexpected and after all of it, her body was still postpartum as if there was a baby. Thank you, Taylor, for sharing your story.

WHAT IS YOUR STORY FROM TTC THROUGH PREGNANCY?

I am Taylor, I am 26 and married to my High School sweetheart. A SAHM and we currently reside in Minnesota. We have three kids: Kane, Macy, and Jagger. I was almost 22 at the time we lost our son Kane, so we’re pretty young.

So A tiny back story- I was engaged to my now-husband at the time, just turned 21, and completed my first semester of nursing school. I was the .0001% of women that got pregnant on the pill. We found out I was pregnant two days before my finals for the fall semester. It was definitely not planned, but we decided to go through with it. I quit nursing school after that semester.

My son who we named Kane, died from a placental abruption that summer. We don’t know why or what caused my placenta to detach from my uterus. I was 36 weeks along when my water broke and blood gushed all over. Who would’ve thought his birth would be the worst AND best day of our lives. He wasn’t planned but we were SO ready to be parents and bring him home. Kane was also our first pregnancy, and first born.

Being a Postpartum Woman After a Term Stillbirth

I have Kane’s whole birth story linked from a blog post I did. It goes into more depth about the exact day and what happened.

I just want to say, these are all of my experiences with postpartum after a term stillbirth. His death gave me PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), PPD (postpartum depression) , PPA (postpartum anxiety) , and certain things you may not think are triggering, are for myself. Nothing I experienced was “normal,” but I don’t know how anything is normal after losing a baby.

RELATED: PPD and PPA stories from Real Moms

when parents lose their child

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

I truly knew absolutely nothing about postpartum when I was expecting him, and after I had him. All I knew is my vagina will hurt for a while, there will be blood, and my milk will come in a few days later. I didn’t know what was normal and what wasn’t. No one explained anything to me really. And as a naive 22-year-old, I thought I’d be happy all the time. They warned me of baby blues turning into something more.  That was it! All I knew was to watch for huge blood clots, no sex,  and I’ll be good by the 6 weeks check-up

DID YOUR BODY STILL ACT “POSTPARTUM” AFTER YOUR STILLBIRTH DELIVERY?

I bled, a lot. I know that’s common especially after vaginal birth, but it was so traumatic for me. My mom and aunt went to my apartment before I was released from the hospital to clean up all of the blood in my bathroom. Every time I went to change the pad and pee, I cried. It physically hurt to pee, but mentally and emotionally hurt more when I had to see the blood. My milk came in full force about two days after I was home. I had HUGE boobs before pregnancy, like size H cup- no joke, so I used lots of frozen peas and tight sports bras.

Milk, Hormones, Recovery

My milk went away generally fast, all thanks to my mom. She told me what to do to get rid of it. Otherwise, I would’ve been extremely lost and suffering from swollen boobs for who knows how long. My hormones were jacked, I was a complete mess. I felt like all I did was cry and feel extreme sadness. The first week home was probably the worst. I almost threw up at the funeral home signing papers for his cremation. I barely ate, felt sick, and just didn’t know what to do with myself. Things would be okay one minute and I would be angry the next. Something would make me laugh, then I felt guilty for being happy for a split second and would burst into tears. Half the time I was surprised I still had actual tears running down my cheeks because I wasn’t sure how my body could constantly produce them after crying for a week straight.

HOW DID OTHERS RESPOND TO YOUR LOSS AND POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

We got a lot of sympathy cards in the mail. Many sent us money, which was extremely nice because I didn’t feel like cooking until 2 months postpartum. My husband’s job sent us flowers, a card, and some other things. Everyone was very sympathetic, which is a very common response to death. My mom was my rock, I don’t think I would’ve made it out alive without her. She was strong for me, took care of the hard things so I could grieve.

My husband’s coworkers constantly asked how he and I were doing, checking in. Family responses were mixed. They wanted to help us and take away the pain but didn’t know how. They didn’t know what they could say or do, they didn’t want to upset us or make it uncomfortable. Of course, they were devastated too, he was the first grandchild on both sides. Our two really close friends were very supportive and both lived further away and almost flew/drove to be with us the day I delivered him. I went out for drinks and dinner with my best friend 3ish weeks postpartum and it was the first time I went out in public, laughed, cried, and actually enjoyed myself. With strangers, even today I get the sympathy looks and the “I’m so sorry,” then they feel super uncomfortable.

HOW DID YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE, AFTER STILLBIRTH, IMPACT YOUR DAY TO DAY LIFE?

It was so hard to feel like I could relate to moms because my baby wasn’t with me physically. I went through all of that and can’t compare anything besides how sore my vagina was. Emotionally, and mentally I was lost. It physically hurt to look at other moms with babies. I was angry and jealous every single time someone on Facebook announced that they’re pregnant. We didn’t have answers as to why he died, so I was pitying myself and was extremely bitter. After I gave birth to him I felt like a piece was missing, I felt like a mom but was baby-less. I never expected to feel that way about motherhood.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL-INTENTIONED)?

Share his pictures without our consent. It’s been four years and I still can’t hang his picture up. Talking about him in front of our kids. They’re too young to understand and we want to tell them on our own terms on our own time!

Some things people have said:

He’s in a better place.

God needed another angel.

It’s in God’s hands.

Everything happens for a reason.

The list is so long! It was all with good intentions but the last thing I personally wanted to hear.

WHAT CAN PEOPLE SAY/DO TO BE HELPFUL TO A FAMILY AFTER STILLBIRTH?

Bringing us food was a huge one! I had zero drive to cook for a long time. My aunt donated a brick with his name on it in our town. His name is with a whole bunch of other children that have passed away. It meant more than she’ll ever know. When people would empathize vs sympathize with us. There is no “but” or silver lining when losing a child. Telling us something like “I know you’re hurting, if there is anything I can do to help let me know, I’m here for you.” I don’t want your pity. Bad things happen, things we can’t control and no amount of your pity will change anything.

When you lose a child, there is no normal. Nothing about you and your story will ever be normal.

WHAT WAS YOUR MEDICAL CARE DURING POSTPARTUM?

My 6-week checkup was complete bs. I was cleared for Postpartum Depression (PPD) because I didn’t mark that I wanted to harm myself. Because I checked off every box besides suicidal thoughts, they told me I was just grieving. It wasn’t baby blues, it was PPD. I truly believe if someone stopped to tell me I wasn’t okay and feeling this way wasn’t the normal grieving process, I wouldn’t have had as bad PPD. They never made me go to counseling or therapy, it wasn’t ever brought up. Our postpartum culture (or whatever you want to call it) already needs to change because it’s failing mothers. It’s even worse for those who’ve lost a baby(s). There should be mandated therapy, and even more check-ins. Child loss is still a taboo topic, yet so many babies are dying, and the system is failing mothers after birth. 

Experiencing stillbirth and need someone to talk to? Find Taylor here:

mom shares story of stillbirth son

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

RELATED: Infertility and Wishing for a Baby

Postpartum Stories

Infertility Journey: Wishing to be Postpartum

OUR INFERTILITY JOURNEY CONTINUES

Infertility Journey Acronyms:
2WW, AMH, BBT, BFN, BFP, B/W, CM, CD, DPO, ENDO, FET, FP, FSH, HSG, IUI, IVF, LAP, LH, LMP, OPK, PCO, RE, SA, TTC

Each acronym serves a purpose in our fertility journey. Owner and operator of Fertility Warrior Podcast, Robyn Birkin, once said on her podcast, “Not everyone tries to get pregnant. If you don’t know these acronyms (she listed a long list like the one above), then pregnancy happened to you. If you know these acronyms, you too have tried to conceive.” This quote has stuck with me for the 464 days that we have been TTC.

A question many people ask married couples is, “When will you start trying to have kids?” I too have asked people this question in the past. Now that I have been TTC, my perspective has shifted, I don’t ask this question anymore. The word “trying” implies if you aren’t pregnant then you’re not trying or not trying hard enough. Trying gets to my core. I am trying more at conceiving a child than I have at anything in my entire life; school, work, career. Without the end result of a pregnancy to show for, people assume that we aren’t trying…that word.

dealing with infertility but i’ve dreamt of being a mom for a long time

MY LIFELONG DREAM OF BEING A MOM

Since I was a little girl, I imagined being a mom, mommy, momma. Little did I realize, that dream wasn’t as easily attainable as I had always imagined. Being the oldest of 5, I was always a helper with my siblings, a babysitter, and naturally grew up with motherly-like tendencies. From a young age, family, friends, and strangers would comment on how natural motherhood would come to me.

Those comments are now gut-wrenching. It’s so difficult to hear how good you’ll be at something that you want more than anything else you’ve ever wanted before. Something that you are going through emotional, physical, and spiritual roller coasters to figure out the steps to achieve a positive pregnancy test. Deep down I know that people- family and friends- people aware of our fertility difficulties and people not aware, mean well and it is their perspective. However, I wish society didn’t put the filters and ideas into people’s minds to comment about such personal instances.

I wish society didn’t put the filters and ideas into people’s minds to comment about such personal instances.

RELATED: Infertility and Vanishing Twin

WHAT IS THE INFERTILITY JOURNEY TO ME?

The infertility journey is:

  • Hard

  • Sad

  • Test after test, month after month…BFN (big fat negative)

  • Knowing your cervical mucus

  • Timed intercourse

  • Smiling through the silent pain

  • Hearing about oops pregnancy announcements and cringing

  • Attending a baby shower for another person that isn’t yourself

  • Facing your fear of needles for acupuncture

  • Addressing your fear of needles for weekly B/W (blood work)

  • Facing your fear of needles for ovulation-inducing injections

  • Changing your diet to decrease the possible internal inflammation

  • Reading blog after blog about other woman’s fertility stories

  • Journaling about gratitude, seeking the positives, when each day you are hurting inside more than the yesterday

  • Seeing a naturopath while working with a fertility clinic (whole-body wellness and approaches)

  • Taking vitamins upon vitamins to fill any possible gaps

  • Crying at any given moment

  • Mood swings

  • Talking to insurance on a weekly basis to ensure appointments and medications will be covered

  • Paying out of pocket for specialty drugs

  • Excluding yourself from social gatherings to avoid the talk of babies

  • Excluding yourself from family members who continue to say “just relax and it’ll happen”

  • Listening to pregnant women complain about how long 40 weeks of being pregnant is (we’re at 464 days TTC)

  • Being bloated from the hormones; looking pregnant but not actually pregnant

  • Intensely irritable

  • Situationally depressing

  • Sitting in silence with your partner

  • Long embraces

  • Hand holding

  • Pictures throughout the journey with staged smiles

  • Not fair

    RELATED: Infertility and Postpartum with Chronic Illness

getting infertility treatment shots

WAITING THROUGH INFERTILITY: NOT YET POSTPARTUM

I’m not yet postpartum. When I listen to women sharing about their postpartum experience, I connect with them on various levels. Although I have not carried a child in my body, I have various symptoms that women going through postpartum have. I often wonder what my emotional and physical self will do when we do become pregnant, initially and during pregnancy. Will my emotional stance be elated because I finally have a pregnancy, or will I continue on this struggling journey as we embark on a whole new path; pregnancy and motherhood?

Until then we will continue TTC through our Infertility Journey .

story of infertility pinterest

Supporting Someone Through Birth Tragedy

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

RELATED: Preventing Postpartum Depression (Ecourse)
Women who struggle with conception and/or pregnancy and birth complications have preexisting factors that can contribute to postpartum depression. If this is you, you can be proactive with this course.

Postpartum Stories

Infertility, Vanishing Twin and Postpartum

POSTPARTUM AFTER INFERTILITY AND VANISHING TWIN LOSS

Emily shares her experience being pregnant with twins, having a vanishing twin, and then birth and postpartum all following her struggle with infertility.

newborn baby after vanishing twin syndrome

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND TELL US SOME BACKGROUND TO YOUR STORY- TTC (TRYING TO CONCEIVE) TO NOW.

Hello! I’m Emily. I’m a 33-year-old graphic designer and live in California with my husband, our two dogs, and our baby boy who is about to turn one. My journey through infertility to becoming a mom is not typical, and for that reason, I get nervous sharing it publicly. I know so many “born mothers” who fight the infertility battle for years, losing babies and hope. That’s not me. But I did experience infertility. My story is real and I’m honored to have the chance to share it.

My husband and I spent 12 years together without children. Some of those years, the childfree life was a willful choice (I got married when I was practically a baby myself) and some of those years, it wasn’t. There were seasons of trying and seasons, like during graduate school, when having a child was the furthest thing from my mind. After grad school, I settled into my career and got ready for the next chapter of my life…and it never came. I was pretty embarrassed, ashamed, and disappointed. All I could think about was all those times I had flaunted my carefree life in front of my friends who had children. Karma…she is a bitch.

Seeking Infertility  Help

After trying consistently for two years, my husband and I decided to seek some help. We went through fertility testing and got the diagnosis that nobody with infertility wants to hear….”unexplained.” We had a wonderful fertility doctor who created a protocol with increasing intervention. I’m incredibly lucky that just three months after starting fertility treatments, on St. Patrick’s Day 2018, a doctor got me pregnant (seriously, that’s my favorite infertility joke).

I conceived twins, the biggest shock of my life. Unfortunately, a twin pregnancy can often make women incredibly sick and I was one of those lucky few. I did not experience the dreaded hyperemesis gravidarum that some women suffer from, but I did end up in the hospital once and spent many of those early days sicker than I ever thought possible. Sadly, around the time I was released from the fertility clinic and put under the care of my OB/GYN, I found out that “Baby B” hadn’t survived. They call it “vanishing twin syndrome.” I’m a very practical person and took heart in the fact that my doctor seemed concerned about my ability to successfully carry twins. “Baby A”, my son Finn, was healthy and strong in utero and stayed that way when he came into the world on December 4, after a 48 hour labor that included 6 hours of pushing 🙂

RELATED: Postpartum after Stillbirth

HOW DO YOU BELIEVE YOUR YEARS WITH FERTILITY TREATMENTS CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR PREGNANCY EXPERIENCE?

Infertility Grief

Infertility robbed me of that “moment” of finding out I was pregnant. When I took the test, my first thought was “No, that’s just the hormones from the shots still in my system.” I didn’t believe I was expecting until I got the results back from my doctor nearly a week later.

Vanishing Twin Grief

Then, because of the vanishing twin, I was left with some unpleasant side effects – extreme nausea and vomiting for the duration of my pregnancy and a higher than average down-syndrome risk, just for example. So practically speaking, fertility treatments gave me twins, which caused me to have some atypical experiences.

Postpartum and Lack of Space for Grief

Because of all it took for me to conceive my son, I felt like I should avoid feeling sorry for myself, never complain, and soldier on, which I did. This proved to be both good and bad. It was good, in that I do believe in “mind over matter” and I think a positive attitude is important. But it was also bad because people around me had no idea what I actually needed, how sick I really was, and seemed to have high expectations of me and my abilities. I thought if I talked about my symptoms, people close to me would remind me that at least I had gotten pregnant and I didn’t want that reminder. I knew how lucky I was, but I also knew that I felt like shit for nearly nine months.

RELATED: Emotions of Postpartum

Mixed feelings getting pregnant after infertility

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

Women, at least in my circles, love to share their horror stories about the wasteland their bodies became postpartum, so that is basically all I knew. I knew about the endless weeks of bleeding, the tearing, and stitches, the raw nipples, etc. I did not, however, know about the night sweats…would have been nice if someone had told me about THAT, haha!

WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

So many things surprised me! I was surprised by how good I felt right away. My nausea ended as soon my son was out and food tasted good again! Additionally, I had retained pounds and pounds of water and that started disappearing immediately. And in the days following his delivery, I realized that I didn’t like being pregnant, even though I was so grateful to have been able to conceive and so in awe and respectful of my body for being able to do what it did.

Maternal Instinct

I was also surprised at how much love and maternal instinct I felt immediately. Many women don’t talk about that part, but taking care of a newborn was straight-up magic for me. I had an aversion to the idea of breastfeeding before my baby was born, but after, it felt like the most natural thing in the world to want to feed him.

Breastfeeding

And on that note, I was surprised at how difficult breastfeeding turned out to be. I did not go into it naively – I had family and friends who dumped ALL the dirty secrets on me – but I thought that, in time, my son and I would figure it out. We weren’t able to, despite having amazing support, and I started exclusively pumping for him. Now, almost a year postpartum, I’m surprised at myself that I’m still pumping.

Postpartum Anxiety

I was surprised when I had postpartum anxiety more than four months after having my son. I thought postpartum mental health issues happened within the first few weeks, and I thought they happened to women who had spouses who went back to work (mine stayed at home for the first 9 months of our son’s life). But when I returned to work, my anxiety became almost crippling. I still battle that demon now at 11 months postpartum.

Postpartum Community

Lastly, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would need other women. I’ve never had a large circle of friends, nor felt like I needed much more human interaction than my experiences with my coworkers and my husband. But after having my baby, I sought out the company of other mothers and, in turn, women I had never considered befriending welcomed me into their lives with dinners, gifts, support, advice, and love.

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (Ecourse)

WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE REALIZED ABOUT POSTPARTUM AFTER INFERTILITY TREATMENTS?

Just because a woman has success with fertility treatments, doesn’t erase the experience she went through. Nothing will ever take away the memories of sticking myself with needles and crying over negative pregnancy tests. My identity as “infertile” didn’t end when my son was born. Many times when I’m rocking my son, I think of my fellow infertile sisters whose arms are empty and my heart breaks for them.

HOW DID OTHERS RESPOND TO YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

I felt very lucky to have a solid local support system who responded favorably. My husband was an unrivaled supporter (no joke, he did EVERY night time feeding while I pumped) and my friends showed up with food and love.

My workplace was wonderful, allowing me to flex my leave, and, when I returned to work, outfitting my office so I could pump there. They even supported me when I had to bring my son into the office from time to time.

I come from a very large family and, unfortunately, I didn’t feel support from them. My mother has nine children (of which I’m the youngest) and my sisters and sisters-in-law have collectively birthed nearly 50 babies. I felt like their attitude was “We’ve been there, done that, survived it, and you will too.” Definitely not what a new mom needs.

RELATED: Postpartum Resources for Moms

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL INTENTIONED)

Someone very close to me said “After all the work you did to get him here, you’re going to leave him and go back to work?” That comment hurt.

I also don’t appreciate when people ask me when my son is going to get a sibling. Besides it being none of yo damn business, I’m also not sure I can actually have any more children. I may not even want to go through that experience again.

I WISH FOLKS WOULD STOP COMMENTING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S REPRODUCTION.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE MOST HELPFUL IN A DIFFICULT TIME?

A few months after my son was born, after I went back to work and when my postpartum anxiety was at its worst, my sister-in-law had Door Dash delivered to me dinner one night. Another night, a friend randomly brought me take-out. Their gestures were more than having a hot meal to eat. It meant somebody could see me, knew I was having a hard season, and cared enough about me to lighten my burden for a minute.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

I know it’s easy for me to say now, but I wish I hadn’t felt so much shame surrounding my infertility diagnosis and subsequent treatments. If I could go back, I’d tell myself how brave I was to seek answers and help, how fearless I was to stick myself with needles full of hormones, and how strong I was when I walked back into my doctor’s office to start again after failures. I think infertility needs to be destigmatized. It’s not a woman crying and clutching her bum ovaries in the baby section at Target. Infertility is a fighter, getting knocked down over and over again, but getting back up every single time.

IN CASE YOU’RE FIGHTING THAT FIGHT AND NOBODY HAS SAID IT TO YOU, LET ME: YOU ARE BRAVE, FEARLESS, AND STRONG. HOLD ONTO YOUR HOPE, SISTER.

pinterest vanishing twin

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be.

By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

motherhood, Postpartum

What You Shouldn’t Say to a New Mom

Myths About Motherhood

There’s a big difference between sound advice and things say to a new mom that actually can end up being harmful.

stop saying to new moms pin.png

This site may contain affiliate links to products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Stop Being a Fixer

Women are fixers, right? So we love to find something encouraging to say- something to make things more rosey. More than that, we feel like we have to have something to say. This is why so many people want to find the right things to say to a new mom. The idea of just letting another woman sit in discomfort and uncertainty- it’s maddening. This is probably the reason why so many things get passed on to new moms that are not always true and often not helpful.

Intentions are good, the result isn’t always. These words of wisdom or encouragement are often taken as expectations and norms and when they don’t pan out, a new mom is left feeling defeated and often like she has done something wrong. Being a new mom is full of transitions and emotions. The last thing we need is for a new mom to feel defeated and like she has done something wrong… can we agree on that?

Sound Advice or Harmful Myths?

From my own experience, and the conversations with clients and friends, I’m breaking down 5 Unhelpful Things We Say to New Moms. I’ll share why these are unhelpful and even offer an alternative way to approach the topic.

There’s a big difference between sound advice and things we pass down to new moms that actually can end up being harmful.

If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

Don’t Say to a New Mom: You Will Lose the Baby Weight from Breastfeeding

do you lose weight from breastfeeding

There’s no doubt about it, breastfeeding burns calories. Whether you’re directly nursing or pumping, your body is doing a lot of work preparing that food! However, breastfeeding is not the only factor when it comes to postpartum weight. Experiences are different for everyone. It’s truly unfair to tell someone to breastfeed to lose weight.

  1. It doesn’t work that way. There are a plethora of other factors that go into weight change in postpartum. Also, some bodies see the biggest change when they wean. Even Serena Williams discusses in this article how she didn’t lose weight until she weaned. This is not a reason TO breastfeed or TO STOP. The overall theme is that bodies are different: body composition, stress, hormones, sleep, genetics… they all play a part. If someone says breastfeeding melted their baby weight off, she’s probably neglecting to realize there were other factors at play.

  2. Even saying this deduces the role of both breastfeeding and postpartum recovery. Breastfeeding can be an amazing experience for women who chose to do so, but there are reasons way beyond weight. Losing weight is also not the overall goal of postpartum recovery, just as a reminder.

Don’t Say to a New Mom: PMADs Only Show Up in the First Few Weeks

At your 4-8 week (average 6) postpartum checkup, you’ll most likely be given an Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale. This will have a series of questions to screen you for Postpartum Depression. While this is a good resource and step, this cannot be our main indicator of needing help with postpartum mood disorders. First, there are a number of postpartum mood disorders that may not be caught by this screening. Secondly, symptoms present themselves in different ways and at different times than we often anticipate.

Postpartum Mood Disorders can be sadness, lack of motivation, wanting to stay in bed, etc., but that is just one picture. It may also be heightened anxiety, becoming OCD, birth trauma PTSD,  having bi-polar episodes, rage, and more. These things do not just happen in the first weeks. In fact, according to Americanpregnancy.org, symptoms can start to show as late a one full year after delivery.

Some women fear to acknowledge their postpartum symptoms thinking that treatment would require them to stop breastfeeding. There are some risks, but overall research has shown the benefits outweigh the risks. You can read more about this here.

postpartum depression and anxiety can show up a year after birth

Don’t Say to a New Mom: It’s Love at First Sight

“You’re just going to fall in love as soon as you see him!” This phrase, while rooted in good intentions, can be very damaging. After the challenges of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, a mom feels things she never has before. Her body, her mind, her emotions have all taken a wild ride. Perhaps she’s exhausted. Perhaps she’s facing trauma. Perhaps she’s not sure how to handle the way life just changed forever. Perhaps she’s coming off of meds and feeling foggy. Perhaps she is feeling overwhelmed with emotions she can’t describe.

Perhaps she doesn’t feel love at first sight. Perhaps she isn’t smitten and giddy. Maybe she, understandably and rightfully, feels any other emotion. What then? Guilt. She feels guilty because she was told that she’d have this instant overcoming of love and if she’s not feeling that right away, she feels like she has missed the mark as a mom right from the start.

She’s not a bad mom.
She hasn’t done anything wrong.
She does and will love this baby deeply… but it may not be her first thought and experience and we have to be there to show up for her in that.
(Momma- if you’ve been carrying guilt about this, let it gooooo. You have a reason for whatever feelings and thoughts you had in those moments, and they do not define you as a mother. Feeling instant love doesn’t make you a better mom than someone who takes some time to transition into it.)

RELATED: Where We Learn about Postpartum

Don’t say to a New Mom: Breastfeeding Won’t Hurt

Seriously. Why are people still saying this? Your nipples- skin, ducts, and tissue- usually aren’t pulled, chomped, sucked four hours a day. Breastfeeding turns that all upside down when a little human who can hardly see and has no practice, starts to pull milk out of those nipples multiple times a day. There is no other part of our body that goes relatively “unused” for years and then, in an instant, becomes arguably the most used part of the body. Anything with that drastic of change is probably going to hurt.

Hear me out- I’m not saying it should be longstanding, crippling pain. There is a good reason for lactation consultants and they can help you to improve the teamwork of you and your baby- but overall, you’re probably going to have some pain. When anyone says breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, I wonder how they define hurt. My son was considered a “great” eater with no tongue tie or lip tie and learned a great latch, but for a while, I was still digging my toes into the carpet at the thought of feeding. I was lathering up the lanolin, coconut oil, and whatever cream I could get my hands on and yet my chest was raw and painful for weeks. Did it get better, yep! We got to the point where there wasn’t pain or anxiety involved but I would never tell a new mom it won’t hurt.

RELATED: The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class (eCourse)

Don’t Say to a New Mom: A Baby is Great for Your Marriage

baby helps marriage-min.png

Marriage is tough. If you’ve been married for a few hours or more, you probably would agree. I love marriage but it’s the hardest thing I’ve done. I’ve heard people say that a baby will “Be great for your marriage” or “Bring you closer together.” Do you know what doesn’t really help something that’s rocky? An avalanche. I am head over heels for my kids, but I have no problem describing them as avalanches.

Kids come in and turn everything upside down. With them, they bring sleep-deprivation and high physical, mental and emotional needs. If you’re struggling to connect with your partner, a 2 am tiff over who is going to wash the sheets that have been shit and puked on probably isn’t going to turn things into roses.

There’s something incredible about seeing your partner turn into a parent. There are a lot of skills you learn in connecting in shorter time frames and being more creative about how to show your love. However, I would never prescribe a baby as a remedy for marriage woes. Improve as much of your relationship as you can before adding a baby in. Obviously, it’s never going to be perfect but again, don’t count on a baby to “fix” things. It’s both inaccurate and unfair.

Listening Ear Without Judgement Matters

Ladies, (I’m talking about the older generations and the current young moms) we owe it to one another to get real and gritty about motherhood- and to stand by one another in the awkward moments of uncertainty. Sometimes a fix isn’t the answer, but a listening ear without judgment is. If you don’t have something helpful to say, that’s okay. Just be there. No words are better than well-intentioned words that could set your friend up for failure.

If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you.

Postpartum

How Long Is The Season Of Postpartum After Birth

FOURTH TRIMESTER AND BEYOND

Right before having my baby, I saw a hashtag movement: #thisispostpartum. It felt empowering to see and was just what I needed before birth to take confidence in all the changes my body had already undergone and was about to go through. I vowed to be a part of this movement of authenticity. I vowed to show more of the unglamorous parts of being a new mom. I vowed to show up not just in the posed family pictures, but the wide range of emotions and experiences that come with postpartum after birth. I vowed to experience the whole season of postpartum and not limit myself to weeks or three months.

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How Long is Postpartum After Birth?

I hit the six-week mark and visited my midwives for a follow-up appointment. By some measures, I had come through the “postpartum period” and yet I still felt so NEW and evolving. I continued to use the hashtag and to discuss postpartum.

More than the Fourth Trimester/3 Months

I hit the 3-month mark- the time when women in America are expected to be back to work (if not before.) Surely by now, things were back to normal, right? Surely I wasn’t still talking about my body, emotions, and mentality as if it were related to my new child. Sure I’ had moved on and gotten my life together. And yet, I continued to discuss postpartum and a period of transition because it still felt raw and new. 

More than the Length of US Maternity Leave

Here I sit at 6 months post-baby, and yet I still consider myself postpartum. When my hormones are out of whack when I look in the mirror and see a different body than I previously knew when I struggle to connect in ways I used to when I feel the conflicts of different areas of my life demanding my attention… I still call this postpartum. 

RELATED: Back to Work after Maternity Leave

Who decided that we can put a timeframe on postpartum?

Milestones: Postpartum After Birth is Days, Weeks, Months

Women believe the first postpartum milestone is six weeks- the time you usually have a check-up with your provider and can be cleared to “get back” to activities. Milestone #2 is commonly accepted as that 12 week period- when we are expected to be back at work (if not already). 

Postpartum is the season of adjustment and change- physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and personally (a series of experiences I’ve coined as “The 5 Pillars of Postpartum”) that follow the birth of a child (and as reproductive psychiatrist, Alexandra Sacks says, “The Birth of a Mother.” 

We don’t have to let some societal construct be the timeline by which we judge our personal growth, change, and “achievement.” We are not timelines and charts.

Hormones and Body Changes in Postpartum After Birth

Hormones

Even past the early weeks, we have hormonal shifts. Our hormones continue to change and fluctuate. Relaxin. Prolactin. Oxytocin. Estrogen. Progesterone. Things that can continue to affect our hormones and emotional experience include bonding, feeding or weaning, change in time spent with baby, the return of the menstrual cycle, etc.

Physical Body

Our physical body- it’s still healing. It’s still changing. It’s still balancing feeding another human and maintaining ourselves.

Our body looks different than it ever has because it’s in a season it’s never been in before.

Our bodies weren’t made to “bounce back to normal” because they have been through so much-given so much-grown so much. These bodies serve a much bigger purpose than how they look in a bathing suit as summer approaches. At 6 months- my body is still postpartum and it is still brilliant. 

If it takes longer than 6 weeks for your body to drop the “baby weight” that’s totally normal. If you never have the same numbers on the scale and the same curves in the same places, that’s totally normal. If your clothes never fit the same way, that’s normal. 

If you’re 3 months after-baby and your hormones still feel in flux, that’s natural. If your relationships are still transitioning, it’s okay. If you’re still figuring out your new identity- you’re not alone. 

No Perfect Timeline of Postpartum After Birth

Someone somewhere decided to put a time frame on postpartum and it seemed to stick. Maybe we need a new name for the six week-twoish years after a baby, but maybe we could just stop putting the pressure on ourselves and others and ground in the truth that this is STILL postpartum and we are allowed to STILL be changing, unsure, growing and figuring out a new “normal.”
Tell me- have you felt rushed to be “back to normal” after a baby? What do you wish someone would have said to you in your postpartum period?

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (eCourse)

Are you looking for education, normalization, and support through your postpartum? Maybe Postpartum Together is a good fit for you.