Friday, July 22, 2011

Three Postpartum Things No One Tells You While You're Pregnant!

Pregnant women always seem to bring out the inner expert in people. Everyone from your mother-in-law to the grocery store clerk has advice to give or a story to tell about pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. However, rarely do we hear about certain things postpartum that could be useful to us if we had advice about it or even a heads up. I'd like to take some time to go over the top three things that occur postpartum I hear from clients, see on parenting/pregnancy boards, and have personal experience with, yet seemingly pregnant women rarely know anything about. I hope this list helps some of you ladies out there navigate through your first weeks postpartum with more knowledge and confidence that what you going through is normal and common.


You read that right. Lots of women experience hair loss postpartum. It can be very daunting watching clumps of your once luxurious pregnancy-induced Pantene locks falling out suddenly, but fear not! It's perfectly normal and probably not premature female balding! Telogen Effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that can occur anywhere from 1-6 months postpartum and you can blame those pesky hormones for it! Normally, about 90% of your hair is an active state and 10% is dormant. During pregnancy, the increase in hormone levels can keep your hair from entering the dormant phase, so hair you would shed normally stays put. When pregnancy ends and hormone levels return to normal, your hair that ceased to shed during pregnancy, then begins to fall out postpartum. It seems like you are losing more than normal, but in fact are losing hair you essentially should have lost before.

Here are few things you can do to help during this time:

*Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which contain flavonoids and antioxidants.

*Avoid hair styles that place stress on your hair such as ponytails, braids, and weaves.

*Use shampoos and conditioners containing biotin and silica
If for some reason you still feel your hair loss is exceptionally excessive, consult with your physician.


I know some of you pregnant women out there are probably thinking big deal! I sweat already. To that I would say, not like this. Postpartum night sweats are a completely different beast. I've had clients who reported waking up with sheets soaked so bad they felt they'd been doused with a bucket of water. Although it may seem like a very strange post-pregnancy symptom, it's actually quite understandable considering all the extra fluid retention a pregnant woman takes on. After birth your hormones (yes, hormones again) adjust and signal to the body that it’s time to eliminate the extra fluid. Like many postpartum symptoms, this too shall pass. Usually in about 2-4 weeks. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to make yourself more comfortable:

*Drink plenty of fluids. It may seem counter-intuitive, but drinking extra fluids will keep you hydrated (all that sweating can dehydrate you afterall) and help your body reestablish a normal water balance more quickly.

*Put a soft towel or a pad over your pillow and under your sheets to absorb some of the moisture.

*Wear loose, lightweight clothing and sleepwear made of cotton, or even sleep in the nude.
As always, if you have other accompanying symptoms with the night sweats such as fever or dizziness consultant with a physician.


Many pregnant women read up on the benefits of breastfeeding, hear about the magical bonding of mother and child, and may even witness a mother, sitting on a park bench, breastfeeding her baby with ease and grace. A real pro. Then you birth your wonderful baby, settle in to breastfeed the little angel and realize not only do you not know what the heck you are doing, but it hurts as well. Yes, it's a perfectly natural thing, breastfeeding, but it doesn't come without it's challenges, i.e., pain and discomfort. Especially those first few days postpartum. Now I completely understand words like pain and discomfort are subjective. One woman's mild discomfort is another woman's severe pain. Keep in mind though, that my point here isn't about those cases of bleeding cracked nipples, mastitis or severe engorgement, but the run-of-the mill discomfort caused by a hungry baby vigorously sucking (and at times tugging and pulling) on your virgin nipples.

You may have heard or even read before that old saying If you are doing it right it shouldn't hurt. Let me interject my first (and only) swear word in this post by saying that is utter bullshit. Well meaning women say this without realizing how condescending and hurtful those nine words can be. It's also wrong. Breast-feeding is a learned skill, and you'll need time, along with practice, and patience to make it a comfortable, successful experience. While many issues that come about during breastfeeding can be attributed to malpositioning of the baby and a poor latch, there is still that initial discomfort you can feel without experiencing those aforementioned issues. You may also feel unsure you baby is getting enough milk that exacerbates you concerns. These feelings are all within the range of normal and there are measures you can take to help you along with breastfeeding:

*Nurse on demand. During the first 12-24 hours after your milk comes in, by letting the baby nurse almost continuously, you may be able to avoid the initial engorgement (and accompanying pain) that normally occurs when the milk comes in.

*Even though fear of pain and discomfort may make you shy away from it; always begin feeding the baby on the sorest breast or the one that seems to be the fullest.

*Expose your nipples to air whenever possible to help toughen them up and to prevent continuous contact with moisture, which can cause nipple irritation, soreness, and damage.

*Lastly, you want to make sure you latch is correct. If you need further help you can contact breastfeeding consultants at Le Leche League International . Also consult a physician if you have severe bleeding cracked nipples and/or fever accompanying swollen painful breast.

As a passionate advocate of breastfeeding I urge any mothers going through this to allow for yourself and your baby the time patience to hang in there if you experience this rough patch! There are many reasons that make it worth it and a few weeks postpartum you'll mostly like be that mother looking that old breastfeeding pro in the park.


  1. Also No one ever told me how HARD breastfeeding would be. They make it out to be this easy thing and when the baby just wont latch its stressful for everyone. With a new mom and all her crazy hormones she will feel like a failure even if she is doing an amazing job. she will just be too upset to see how well she is doing.

  2. thanks for the post. I went to my doctor complaining about hair loss and he said it was normal - that he had three kids and I should call his wife and start a support group! he was kidding, but still. I also have a thyroid condition, and it turned out my thyroid was too high (which can also cause hair loss.) so I'm 5 months post-partum, still shedding like a dog in spring... I haven't had the night sweats. And I agree that breastfeeding is a skill. that's a great way to say it. thanks! :) anna

  3. Just wanted to elaborate on a point you made about your baby being hungry and not getting enough. I thought this when my DS was born and so on the advice of a midwife i gave him formula. I now know this was wrong. Babies stomach are the size of a small marble when they are born and therefore don't need much. Also by giving my DS formula i was depriving my breast of the stimulation it needed and therefore delayed my milk coming in. Vicous circle from there as i thought i wasn't producing enough milk for DS and so he had a second formula feed after that we got home and everything settled down and he is still bf at 26 months. Breastfeeding IS a skill to be learned like driving a car but once you are doing it, it makes life easier and is a fantastic amazing experience! well done for the blog, v helpful. :)

  4. The hair loss! OMG! The hair loss. I've had my thyroid and hormones checked because I've been so freaked out by the hair loss.

    I think the lochia and swelling can be added to the list of things people don't tell you, too

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