It’s hard to believe that my little guy, Charlie, is 9 weeks old already. It feels like his birthday was just a few weeks ago. The whole family has adjusted to having a newborn in the house. My oldest son, JP, still waivers between ignoring the baby all together and trying to play with him. But overall, it feels like Charlie was meant to be in our home because he’s always been in our hearts. Even though the household has adjusted, I’ve been struggling to get back into the “fitter” version of me. Compared to this baby, I look back and feel like I snapped back into shape after my firstborn. This time, not so much. I think it’s important to discuss postpartum body image issues.
The 4th Trimester Struggle: Postpartum Body Image
Jumping Into a Post Delivery Routine
I never formally blogged about Charlie’s birth story, but he came quick (vaginal delivery). My doctor never expected him to come as quick as he did. He surprised us all. It was a quick but difficult delivery. My blood pressure drops while giving birth, which drains me.
After coming home from the hospital, I went about my usual routine. But this time, I had a toddler to take care of too. Sadly, living in the U.S. means my Husband barely got 3 weeks paid time off from work. So I was on my own soon after delivery. Trying to clean, take care of a newborn and chase after a toddler. I can’t lie- My Mom helped daily and loved ones offered to help (like my amazing cousin) but I am prudish and always turn them down.
That’s when I realized I was pushing myself too hard. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror with the extra weight, felt exhausted and started having bladder issues. At only 3 weeks postpartum, and feeling funny, I asked to see my doctor sooner rather than later.
A Surprise Diagnosis – When My Postpartum Body Image Collapsed
Turns out, my bladder prolapsed. This is something that is common with women and we don’t talk about it! I felt an un-describable bulge that made me feel undesirable. That was my bladder. It dropped so low that I could feel it. I panicked and googled everything. I cried hysterically and then wept quietly.
The doctor explained that shouldn’t be lifting my toddler and I should’ve been resting more. None of which was in my hospital discharge papers. I wish hospitals would be more descriptive in their discharge papers! It would’ve helped me so much more.
I heard the words “This is your second pregnancy and every pregnancy is different” more times than I can count. Folks- that’s not comforting at all.
At 29 years old, I felt like I was beyond menopause. The worst part was that I couldn’t cope through running either. I had to focus on strengthening my pelvic floor muscles and I was told to stop breast feeding to raise my estrogen levels. I was devastated.
I’m sharing my story of postpartum struggles because nobody discusses it. Nobody talks about the difficulty of caring for yourself while caring for others. Nobody mentions avoiding the mirror because you don’t recognize yourself. People don’t talk enough about the emotional roller coaster that happens after you have a baby.
The 4th trimester is real
I think a lot of women have the same attitude like I did… that you should snap back quickly. But I realize now how vulnerable our bodies are after having a baby. It’s a time that we need to truly rest and take help from other people. It’s a stage in your life that you should be the most proud of what you see in the mirror because you just carried a baby. It’s also vital to take care of yourself first, because the baby needs you healthy.
I didn’t do any of that and I regret it. It’s taken me longer to recover because I didn’t do any of that.
Don’t Be Afraid to Start a Discussion About Postpartum Body Image
I hope that this post gives at least one woman the courage to discuss postpartum issues with their doctor. We can’t keep pretending that everything is OK just to get that 6-week mark of approval from the doctor. Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to speak up when something doesn’t feel right. Your health is the most valuable thing you own.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Nursery Safety Tips Every Mom Needs to Know