The Postpartum Body After Second Baby
January 6, 2019
I pushed a human out of my body roughly twenty weeks ago, and during these weeks, I’ve paid close attention to the joys (not) of my postpartum season.
With my first born, I embraced how perfect postpartum was for me personally. The birthing was a breeze. There was no pain. The baby belly fat was gone. There was no saggy skin or ‘post-pregnancy pooch.’ The bleeding that doctors mention only lasted a week for me. I bounced back super fast, and quite honestly, I thought my body would return to normal with my second baby too. Well, the joke is on me because mother nature has had other plans for my body.
1. Those pre-pregnancy jeans I loved so much were given to Salvation Army.
I didn’t buy any maternity clothes for my postpartum body because I figured since my baby belly disappeared with my first one, that I would not have a stomach pooch after the second baby either. Well, come to find out none of my pre-pregnancy jeans will zip up. Rather than having a stomach pooch or extra baby weight, I experienced wider hips after pregnancy. My pelvic bones were stretched out to accommodate my daughter’s growth that the ligaments that support the bones had to stretch out. My hips feel and look much wider than before.
I often tell Big Drew, “I look like a triangle.” He tells me to embrace my new curves, but it is frustrating when you don’t know what your pants size is anymore. I used to easily fit into a size one or two, but now, I can comfortably fit into a size five and even an eight! My co-worker was in utter shock when I told her I would take her work pants because I knew I could fit into a size eight. They require a belt since they are a little loose on me, but going from a size one to almost a size eight because of my hips is still mind-blowing to me.
2. The linea nigra is still there.
When I got pregnant with my son, the skin all over my chest and stomach darkened and the dark vertical line between my belly button and pubic area appeared shortly after (linea nigra). It never went away. I know it is a pregnancy trademark, but I could never embrace it. I’m not even ashamed to admit that. They say if you breastfeed, it stays longer. I breastfed my son until he was almost twenty months, and by then, I was pregnant with my daughter. It darkened again after it was slowly fading. I hate it. Every time my stomach darkens, the line appears, and once the skin around my stomach returned to normal, the line became even more visible.
3. Postpartum Alopecia is Mortifying
The amount of hair shedding that is occurring is scary. When I was pregnant with my son, I experienced so much hair loss, but I did not have major anxiety over it. Yes, I was losing handfuls at a time, but it only made my hair appear thinner. I just related it to being pregnant. Once he was born, my hair grew more volume and stopped falling out.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I did not lose any hair. I thought I was in the clear, but three months postpartum and suddenly, my edges began thinning out. Now I’m almost six months postpartum and my edges have severely thinned out. I have coin-sized hairless patches, and I cringe every time I need to brush my hair in the morning. I also have avoided washing my hair as per the recommended amount because I don’t want to lose anymore hair from the scalp. I know it will eventually stop, but at what cost, you know?
4. “Pregnancy Brain” is real and it can affect your postpartum brain as well.
I pulled the ‘pregnancy brain’ card to get out of things all. the. time with Big Drew. Little did I know it would come to bite me in the butt after my kids were born. I have become so forgetful. It is seriously a problem. I can’t handle the loss of brain mass brought on by motherhood. I can get up from the couch and say out loud, “Okay, I’m going to check the drier to see if the clothes are all dry,” but as soon as Drew gives me a response, I stare blankly at him. It’s as if I’m experiencing a brain fog. Within thirty seconds of having said what I would do, he has to explain to me what it is I got up to do!
5. My Appetite is insatiable.
Moms soon-to-be think the hunger they feel during pregnancy is crazy with the cravings they experience. Let me tell you, this girl can EAT. I eat so much now that I do not take offense to anyone who says, “Oh Jess eats all the time. When isn’t she hungry?” Better yet, “Go ask Jess for food. She has all of the snacks.” I have a lunch bag for work and a snack bag because I never have enough.
I have to pump while at work and nurse my daughter once I get home and throughout the night; the process of making milk for around-the-clock feedings takes A LOT of energy. I can burn up to one-thousand calories a day from breastfeeding/pumping so just imagine how much I need to eat in order to not feel like I’m starving. It doesn’t even matter because I can eat three bowls of pasta, bread, down a whole glass of water, and as soon as I nurse, eat more because my stomach is empty again. With my son, I did not experience being as hungry as I do now. I crave anything that has calories and I will gladly ask for seconds or thirds.
6. Deodorant doesn’t win the battle against my hormones.
I never really sweat before I had my babies nor did I have to wear much deodorant. After my son? I needed to wear deodorant after all my showers because I knew I would get the breastfeeding sweats. If I didn’t, I would have sweat stains under my armpits. I always noticed them at outings too. Go figure. Once my hormones balanced out, I did not have this issue anymore.
After I had my daughter, I realized deodorant is just not working for me. By the afternoon, I am smelling like an onion. That is just the honest truth. The brands I swore by no longer work for me. I have had to run to the bathroom while at work to hand wash my pits. Then I use the hand driers before reapplying deodorant. Its honestly laughable. I carry deodorant and three different body sprays in my nursing bag now because I don’t want to be known as the stinky co-worker.
7. I’ve believed I was pregnant again numerous times now.
At three months postpartum, I started to feel a phantom baby kicking inside me. They have never been painful, but they are pronounced enough that I have sworn I was pregnant. I have gone weeks at a time without feeling any. Then one day they suddenly occur again. I have even pressed my hand down on my belly and felt actual movement. I never once experienced this with my son so the first couple of times it happened, you better believe I was panicking.
It turns out that phantom kicks are due to muscle spasms and gas, which can result in movement when you decide to stare down at your belly. I have tested five times since my last phantom kick just to be sure because they feel so real. It is such a freaky experience!
8. Its not the baby blues and its not postpartum depression— so, what is it?
When I had Drew, I did not suffer from postpartum depression. At five months, I got the baby blues, but it was short, and it was not serious compared to other stories I have heard about. With my daughter, however, things are different. Maybe I will write a more in-depth blog about this, as this is serious and affects many women. My anxiety level this time around is overwhelming.
I do not get hot flashes or have trouble sleeping. I am not depressed. I am very much happy and in love with my babies. I am still trying to figure it out because it is not like postpartum anxiety disorder (or maybe it is but with fewer symptoms?). I constantly feel worried and am on edge whenever I leave the house. It is a strange and dark feeling because I always think that I am going to die, and my kids will be left without a mother. I’ve came home many times and spoken to Big Drew about a will and our finances because I just think I will not live a long life and one day, a crazy driver is going to hit me. Yeah, those are really dark thoughts to have. He thinks I should speak to someone because I did not feel like this when I was a first-time mom. It creeped up out of nowhere, and I don’t know if it is a phase or if it will continue. I already spoken to a friend who recommended using an essential oil diffuser in the car while I drive to calm my nerves so I am expecting one in the mail soon. More on this maybe later!
9. I regret getting an epidural.
I suffer from terrible backaches, and they are definitely synonymous to motherhood. I constantly saddle a baby on my hips while I bend down to pick up my son’s toys. The aches and pains are nothing new. However, it wasn’t until I was pregnant with Jade, that a co-worker told me my backaches could stem from the epidural procedure I had with my first child.
My son is now two years and a half and my back pains are so severe. I can hardly turn or move at night when in bed, and the aches can get really intense. I don’t know if it is because of the epidural, but other mothers have agreed. I had a natural birth with my daughter with absolutely no time for any medication, that I now wish I had the same experience with my first. The contractions were ten times worse the first time, but I wish I could have endured the pain and avoided the epidural altogether. I often wonder how my back would feel now if I hadn’t.
10. My booty shrank out of nowhere.
When I was pregnant with Drew, all the fat I got went straight to my butt and thighs. Once I gave birth, I lost the baby weight, but my butt stayed firm and round. My butt was still fine while pregnant with my daughter. At two months postpartum, when I finally decided to look at myself in the mirror, I realized my butt was completely gone.
The amount of breastfeeding and pumping that I was doing meant my body had to take fat reserves to produce milk on top of the calories I was maintaining. I guess that made sense. I think I pumped a handful of times with my first, but with Jade, I power-pumped and nursed on-demand. Now, my milk regulated and my hormones are (somewhat) regulated so my behind is making a comeback, thankfully.
So, there you have it. I just reflected with you all on my postpartum journey. It has not been fun, but I know it could be worse. I’m trying to remind myself that postpartum comes from the fact that I’ve done and continue to do something amazing— birth and care for a human life. I hope you have enjoyed, been informed, and or related to my experiences in anyway!