What Happens *After* Delivery-All the Details You Might Not Want to Know

There are a lot of things that happen during and after labor and delivery that no one wants to talk about or address because, well, they are just too gross, too personal or whatever to go into. I have never been one to shy away from stuff that’s uncomfortable to talk about, so I thought I’d get into the nitty-gritty of what happens post partum-all the stuff I wasn’t prepared for because no one really told me about it. So here’s a nice TMI post for y’all.

The first thing after delivery I remember is that the nurse comes in and has to press on my abdomen, to make sure that I”m not still bleeding and that I’m clotting appropriately, etc. I could not see what happened when she pressed on my abdomen, but what I heard was a gush of liquid and not so liquid. I also felt this gush. My husband, however did witness it and still believes that between what was lost during delivery and that abdomen push must have weighed 30 pounds in fluid. I am glad I didn’t see it, hearing and feeling it was enough.

So because of the volume of fluid the nurse informed me that I wasn’t clotting well and needed medication to stop the bleeding. Four little pills. Easy, four pills is nothing after what I’d just done. Four little pills that work most effectively when taken…rectally. Really? Does the humiliation ever stop? Can I at least get the epidural back before you ram something up my ass? Apparently not. So now, in addition to the soreness of child-birth I’m forced with the wonderful feeling of something jammed up my bum. As I’ve said, there really is no dignity to childbirth. Over the course of the next 12 hours I will endure the abdominal massage again and again, but thankfully no more little pills.

Because I had an epidural I wasn’t allowed to get up for at least 2 hours after delivery, lest my legs buckle beneath me and I fall into a gelatinous heap on the floor. As soon as I was able, though, they really want you to use the bathroom and make sure everything is working OK. Because you’ve just passed a watermelon, there is a handy tool kit that they give you for your future trips to the bathroom. Mine included disposable underwear, the longest maxi pads I have ever seen, a can of what amounted to Bactine for my nether regions, a squeeze bottle, and some medicated cooling pads (generic Tucks pads). I was also informed not to wipe, but to “pat.” Keep this in mind when the time comes-never wipe!

The first thing I did was fill the squeeze bottle with warm water. Despite not being given instructions on how to use it, I had a pretty good idea. There was some trial and error, however, concerning temperature of the water you use. I found there was a narrow margin between too hot and too cold and I meandered through the process like a postpartum Goldilocks searching for “just right.” I now know why they have bidets in Europe and I am somewhat envious of them.

The next thing you may notice after you irrigate the area is that everything is swollen beyond belief. Seriously when I went to “pat” (remember: never wipe!) I actually said “OH MY GOD” and the nurse came to check on me. My naughty bits felt the way a baboon’s ass looks. And it stung. A lot.

For the first few days after delivery every bathroom visit went as such-pee, irrigate, pat, use Bactine like spray (it’s called Dermoplast), add 2 pads to disposable panties and cover those with medicated pads, try to pull up panties without pads falling out onto the floor. In fact, you may need help pulling your new fun disposable panties up the first time. It will be horribly embarrassing  and you will  wonder at what point during all the paperwork you signed off to have every last shred of dignity whisked away from you. Also, let me warn you-if you get an epidural there will be a catheter. For the first few times, it will feel like you’re pissing razor blades. Irrigating while urinating can help, but what helps best-drink tons of water and pee often, sure it hurts, but the more you pee, the less it hurts, because the faster it heals.

I was fortunate to not have any tearing from delivery (thanks to my amazing midwife I’m sure.) I do believe that there may have been micro-tears from stretching (think of paper cuts on your girly parts) and they will sting, sorry, they just do. The irrigating while peeing thing helps with this too. Use whatever the hospital gives you to help, and steal it all when you leave. The absorbent pads they give you will probably suck (mine didn’t have adhesive to stick to the undies.) I would suggest buying something else to use for when you get home. I personally got Poise pads, which are for bladder leakage, and they worked awesomely (absorbent and cushiony, if you’re basically going to wear a diaper for weeks it might as well be cushiony.)

Get used to the aftercare routine, you’ll be using it for a bit. I took to carrying my bottle, Dermoplast, Tucks and pads in a gallon-size Ziplock baggie in my purse (remember I wasn’t at home, I was at the NICU my first week postpatum). There is no longer a “quick stop in the bathroom” as you now have your whole routine to follow. I had to also get used to all the red in the bowl afterwards. For some time after delivery you’ll bleed, and sometimes pass clots. This is normal (and the doctor will tell you what is abnormal to look out for) don’t pass out. I remember being so happy the first time I actually saw pee color after I peed.

For me, by two weeks out I had no swelling and bleeding was pretty much non-existent. And then the bleeding came back, which my midwife said was normal. This is the pattern, It clears up and you’re about to jump for joy, and then it comes back. I’m five weeks out from delivery and I still spot from time to time. Never when I’m prepared for it & use a pantyliner, of course.

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