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Oh the Ooze!
November 8, 2010 4:02 pm | by

The moment your child emerges from the womb is amazing. It’s a rush of emotion, excitement and fluids. As you bask in the glow of the moment, it’s easy to forget what’s happening below.

Thankfully medical professionals assist with the initial cleanup, but after those early hours, it becomes a relentless task that only a sleep deprived, mother of a newborn can care for.
Very few women truly understand what postpartum bleeding is like until after they’ve had their first child. Which leaves many first time mothers unprepared, both emotionally and with inadequate supplies.
Most resources state that average postpartum bleeding lasts about six weeks. It’s easy to forget that this is an average, rather than a magic predictor of when it will stop. Since it’s an average, it means some women will bleed for a few weeks, while others will exceed the average and bleed for 2 months or more. It’s really frustrating when six weeks pass and you are still changing pads day after day.
Another surprise that few moms talk about is how irregular the flow can be. After a few weeks, it can begin to lighten, leaving you with hope that you might be one of the lucky ones to beat the average. Life feels good, you begin to feel like a real person again and WHAM! It comes back with a vengeance. With all the sleep deprivation and focus on your new baby, it’s difficult to remember that the flow is affected by how your uterus is shrinking, which is not necessarily consistent or even. Breastfeeding, hormones and other things can affect the rate at which your uterus returns to normal. This means your bleeding can vary from light to heavy multiple times before it completely stops.
We fill our bag for the hospital with items to use during labor and cute outfits for baby, but we often forget to care for ourselves in those early days. A few of our favorite items for in the hospital and the first few days after birth are part of the Mom’s First Day kit from Smart Choices.
Some tips from Cotton Babies staff:
  • Avoid wearing ruining your favorite pair of undies or having to wear ugly granny panties in the hospital with single-use waterproof panties.
  • If the super pads aren’t doing the job, our Flip Disposable Inserts work well inside the waterproof panties.
  • Sometimes labor doesn’t go exactly as planned, so we recommend the fem’e Pad, a cooling pad that can be used to relieve pain from tears, episiotomies, hemorrhoids or other irritations.
  • We also recommend the Sitz Bath from Motherlove and the cooling New Mama Bottom Spray from Earth Mama Angel Baby.
  • For those mamas who’ve had a c-section, we recommend the C-Mama Healing Salve from Earth Mama Angel Baby as your scar heals.

For moms who’ve already experienced childbirth, what was the biggest surprise to you about postpartum bleeding or pain? What was one thing you wished you’d packed in your hospital bag for yourself for after birth?

Stay tuned for more Real Mom Talk about the early days after childbirth later this week.

About the Author

Heather is mom to four, born within 40 months (single, twins, single). She writes transparently about her chaotic household to encourage others through the twists and turns of parenting.



  • Anonymous said...
    November 10, 2010 at 1:33 am

    I have two kids. Both births were completely different. Even so, my hospital “kit” didn’t change from the first to the second. I made sure I took comfy black pants (to hopefully hide any leaks), a top suitable for nursing, a nursing bra or top (my favorite is the Bravado nursing tank), a nursing friendly warm cover up (I get cold so easily), and warm socks or slippers to keep the feet warm.

    The hospital staff nearly refused to let me use anything I brought for the bleeding as they were pretty sure I’d leak too badly in them. I say let the hospital provide you with the “sumo strength” pads. Actually they provide you with quite a bit, take advantage of it as most often they have to dispose of any supplies that are in your room after you leave. Don’t be afraid to ask for that “donut”. It can be a real lifesaver 🙂

    Also don’t be afraid to ask for a lactation specialist. They can provide you with many solutions for your nipple pain. I wish someone had told me that nursing does not always happen easily and quickly without lots of pain. Not everyone will experience this, but it is a possibility.

    It’s nice to have your own nipple cream, or bottom balm, but if you don’t remember it, ask your nurses if they have any solutions. You’d be surprised at what they can give you.

    In the end everyone, just remember, all the pain and discomfort, is a drop in the bucket compared to the little miracle in your arms.

  • Ashley said...
    November 9, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I was actually surprised by how much I didn’t hurt; I fully expected to be an complete agony post-birth, and as terrified — especially when I turned out to have an itty-bitty tear, and there were stitches…

    Then it happened, and the whole thing was perfectly manageable with Motrin. I sat comfortably, and sometimes I missed the Motrin dose with minimal pain; soreness, absolutely, but not really hurt.

    That said, I was surprised by how weak I was; about 6 days postpartum my husband and I tried to take the baby for a walk, and I couldn’t make it 2 blocks before I was begging to turn around and go home. We made it 6 blocks in total, and it hurt every muscle in my body so much.

  • Janice said...
    November 9, 2010 at 12:19 am

    I didn’t think going to the bathroom after a c-section would be that bad, but any use of the abdominal muscles was painful. I had a VBAC two months ago, and I’m glad someone told me that she felt just as horrible after her VBAC as she did after her c-section (but recovered much quicker after the first few weeks).
    My OB gave me a shot of oxytocin after the (vbac) birth to prevent hemorrhaging and encourage my uterus to contract. A few hours later I had contractions that felt like full blown labour…I would have loved to have the gas back for the pain! But in the long run, my bleeding was over quicker and easier than after my c-section. I also had a third degree tear and felt like my insides were going to fall out when I walked. Getting in and out of bed/the car/off the couch were just as challenging as after my c-section. After two weeks I was feeling much better and didn’t need any tylenol/advil for pain. Before that I was taking one of each every 4 hours.
    After a c-section, any slight movement of the abs is not very pleasant (coughing or laughing…sneezing was the worst!)The strangest thing about my second birth was that I could ‘flex’ my abs just like I could before I was pregnant. That was a really odd feeling to me.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Prunes and water were key to survival. I didn’t get constipated while pregnant due to my fondness for berries, but YOW after delivery. And I tore horribly in all directions and was really swollen, so having to go at all was terrifying. Oh, gosh. And I could hardly walk around the block for weeks and weeks, while I had friends walking miles a week after delivery. I was so jealous. And then there’s still needing to kegel to survive sneezes without wetting myself. Oh, man. It sure was worth it, though.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing all the details! I’m due in May and i didn’t know about any of this! I’m glad I’m more prepared now. 🙂

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Oh Jessica, I completely forgot about the constipation–it was so awful I think I blocked it out entirely. I had a bad tear and was absolutely terrified to poo for a few days (fearing I’d rip my stitches). I tried stool softeners and lots of fiber but had to use those glycerin suppositories for about 2 or 3 months afterwards. That was truly awful and painful. Things are back to normal now, but I had no idea to expect that!

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    this has been a very helpful but mildly terrifying thread to read. I am due in 2-3 weeks, and no one has shared this info with me yet!!!

  • Jessica G said...
    November 8, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    In my birthing classes they said that when your water breaks, it usually is very little; that you might think you peed a little in your pants. My water broke and it was like a geyser! And I didn’t realize that after the initial stuff coming out, it continues for the rest of labor. Be sure to have pads on hand for that!

    Also, I had no clue that after a vaginal delivery, I would feel like I blew my bottom out. I nervously asked the midwife about it and she explained that it feels that way because that is where I pushed from.

    Lastly, no one told me to drink tons of water so I wouldn’t get constipated. It was awful. I honestly think that was worse than labor and delivery.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Nobody ever told me that once the baby is out, your belly just collapses in on itself. Talk about a shock. It felt like jello.

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I was surprised that I physically couldn’t go up and down the stairs more than once a day for the first week or so.

    And that fading/recurring bleeding was a real teaser. Just when I thought it was over, it would start again!

    I also thought that once I could see my bikini line after two or three weeks I would trim the hair… Big mistake!!! The cut hairs itched like crazy against my stitches and swollen skin.

    And nothing is the same… I’m not sure it’s logistically possible to even make a second baby. 🙁

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    ok, i’m gonna say it so nobody else has to…i was shocked at how different my vagina looked!!
    i called the doctor sobbing about a week post partum because my stitches had torn on day 3 and i had finally just looked ‘down there’. everything still feels (except for the hemroids that i’m pretty sure i get to keep for life)and works the same-but its not what you expect to see down there 🙂 My daughter’s now 22 months and we’re looking forward to another bundle of sleeplessness…at least now i know what to expect downtown. lol

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Hmmm. Good to hear that there is a range of normal bleeding times. My doctor tried to tell me that an increased amount of bleeding (after it had mostly stopped) at 6 weeks postpartum was my period. But being that I didn’t get another one until my little guy was 11+ months old, I’m pretty sure that it was just part of the postpartum bleeding.
    I wish I had packed more comfy pajama type clothes for the hospital. At some point I was sick of the hospital gown, and I guess I could have changed into regular clothes, but that didn’t seem quite right either.

  • Priscilla said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Thankfully, I had thought to get some overnight sized pads b/c when my water broke at home, I was able to wear those to the hospital to save my clothes (and a little dignity walking inside :-). The hospital had a lot of supplies they let me take home ( I took a whole bag and still have some things)–extra peri bottle, large pads, mesh underwear, etc. Definitely hit your hospital up for what they will allow you to take!
    I think my biggest surprises were that I wish I had taken more “ruinable” clothes with me to the hospital (as everything seemed to be leaking from bleeding to nursing!). I was also surprised at the amount of blood PP. I had about 8 weeks of bleeding, but I remember being at home alone when my daughter was about a week old and running upstairs get get something. I forgot about the fact that I was recovering and soaked through my clothes from putting stress on my body. I was so nervous I had to call my OB and hubby and proceeded to sit on the couch with my newborn, bobby, and diapers stacked near by for the rest of the day! I’ll remember to take it easy next this time–I hope (since I have a toddler now!).

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I didn’t realize that things would never be the same “down there” after my first vaginal delivery. It was a little traumatic for my poor hubby, too, the first time he took a look and realized how much different everything was. I don’t know if this is normal or not, but my body did not return to its pre-baby appearance or functionality down there either.

  • Ruby Sohho said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    You can have a HUGE bleed a few days after the birth. I had a 300ml bleed 6 days after my emergency c-section. It’s okay, you’re not dying and it’ll probably only happen the once. Just know it can happen. I didn’t and freaked the fark out!

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I bled for 14 weeks after my first was born (and I had in-home help in the form of a very dedicated husband, so I wasn’t overdoing things!). And then my period came back at 17 weeks. I was so tired of pads after 3.5 months of them, and I was using disposable pads, so talk about $$$ and smell and discomfort. I used reusable cloth pads with my second two babies, after the initial few weeks of heavy flow was done. So much nicer!

  • Anonymous said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    I had a 3rd degree tear and was surprised at how long it took to heal. I’m now 6 months exactly post-partum and though I haven’t had pain for several months, things still work differently.

  • Catherine said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Honestly I totally forgot to pack enough clothes for myself. I only had 1 outfit beyond the one I wore to the hospital! I was 2 weeks early, after the doctor said the day prior I would for sure go to my due date, and packing in a flash included a lot of stuff for my husband and the new baby, but I didn’t even think about me. Thank you guys for posting this! I was well over average with 11 weeks bleeding and felt like a freak. Wish I had seen this then! I am now addicted to cloth momma pads- they are SOOOO much more comfortable. Will definitely be investing in a bunch more when I am about to deliver again. I’m pretty sure they will get a lot of use 🙂

  • Renee said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Probably a donut pillow… I think I sat on the boppy for weeks! I remember not being able to walk correctly for a long time! I HIGHLY recommend a post-partum massage to help get things back to where they were before pregnancy… including ribs and hips!

  • Sara said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    My nurses made me little ice packs out of baby diapers in the hospital. They opened the top of the disposable diaper and filled it with crushed ice. As the ice melted, it was absorbed by the diaper. It was soft and cool…such a relief and a cheap option to do at home. It was also handy for getting rid of disposable diapers that were given to me.

  • melissa said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    I was surprised that it took so long to heal and get back into the swing of things. For some reason, I thought I would be able to do everything I could do before…took a while!

  • Kacie said...
    November 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Donut pillow! Absolutely a donut pillow, especially for the car ride home.

    I have tried the New Mama Bottom Spray and I love it. I get the Earth Mama Angel Baby post-partum kit for expectant moms, and after their babies come they are all like, “You have no idea how much this helped!” Oh, but I do know 🙂