35 Honest Postpartum Experiences Shared by Real Moms

Nothing changes your body—and your life—more than becoming a mother. After all, you just put in 40 weeks or so of pregnancy, and probably some long hours of childbirth as well, on your way to officially bringing your little one into the world.

But the work doesn't stop there. In fact, you're just getting started. Not only do you have a new baby to care for, but you also have your postpartum body to nurse back to health. And while you can take all the suggested steps to prepare for this part of the journey, nothing quite prepares you like being in the thick of it.

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Stacy Johnson

To give a stronger voice to the postpartum experience and share some honest tips on how to navigate this important first step of motherhood, we turned to the real moms of our Verywell Family Facebook community. Here's just a sampling of what they said to expect after giving birth and the important lessons they learned since becoming a mom—from the tough physical recovery to the emotional adjustments to all the beautiful moments in between.

Sharing the Truth

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Amber Kelly

Too often, soon-to-be moms don't really know what to expect during the postpartum period—that going to the bathroom or just sitting down might be difficult, or that you will bleed for a lot longer than you may think after giving birth.

Practicing Self-Care

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Brittany Willow Mayer

Much of your focus and energy during the weeks and months following birth is on your new baby. But you can't forget to take care of yourself too. In fact, the biggest piece of advice new moms often give is to ask for help when you need rest or you're in pain.

You have to let your partner, friends, and family members know when you need a break.

It's also important to put your fears of being inadequate or not doing enough aside. No one expects you to do everything and you shouldn't have those expectations either.

Enjoy your baby and take time for yourself. The dishes can wait.

Dealing With Bleeding

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Kristin Maldonado

After you give birth, postpartum bleeding, or lochia, can last up to six weeks. Most of the time, it is just like a very heavy period. Bleeding is heaviest for the first three to 10 days and then it will taper off. If you spot large clots or you are bleeding more than one pad every hour, call your doctor right away.

Learning the Reality

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Lorraine Rupe

Sometimes the postpartum experience catches you completely by surprise. And it turns out to be nothing like you expected. Maybe you end up having trouble with breastfeeding or you just don't feel like yourself. Whatever your experience, do not beat yourself up emotionally if it doesn't go exactly as planned. Instead, learn to accept this is the way your body and mind is dealing with the experience and that it's OK.

Coping With Pooping Problems

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Ashley Bark

Nothing quite prepares new moms for the bathroom issues and changes they will experience during the postpartum period. In fact, pooping after giving birth is not easy, especially after a c-section. Most women agree stool softeners are a must. And, if your doctor, certified nurse practitioner, or midwife doesn't offer some, ask for them.

Managing Incontinence

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Shannon Braswell

When it comes to peeing, most moms will tell you your body will be forever changed. You will likely struggle with incontinence long after giving birth, even if you regularly practice kegel exercises.

You may also have trouble peeing at all, especially if your bladder was knocked around a bit during labor and delivery. Some women have found that bending over while seated on the toilet or pressing on their bladder helps them empty it, especially right after giving birth. You also may find that your body fails to signal to you that it is time to pee until it is almost too late—especially if you are sleep-deprived.

Struggling With Loneliness

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Hailey Gray

No one really talks about how lonely being a first-time mom can be. Not only are you often stuck in the house alone with a helpless newborn, but there is very little time for anything else like talking on the phone, having coffee with friends or even surfing social media.

What's more, even if you have people around you, it can still feel like a lonely experience because you have the weight of caring for a newborn on your shoulders and you feel like it is solely your responsibility. If you feel like your loneliness is consuming you, it is important to reach out to your doctor and share your concerns. You also should talk to your partner or a close friend about the loneliness you feel.

Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Angel Falkner

Developing postpartum depression leaves many women struggling with guilt and hopelessness, leaving them feeling like they are failing at something. Yet, PPD is not something that women have control over and it is certainly not something to be ashamed of. It is a condition that occurs if you are feeling depressed, exhausted beyond normal and like you are barely hanging on. Talk to your doctor right away.

Accepting Your New Body

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Keighly Lewis

Unfortunately, many post-baby photos of celebrities don't do new moms across the country any favors. Instead, these photos set average women up for false expectations. The truth is, your body will be different, even if you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Your hips may be a little wider from childbirth and the shape (and sometimes size) of your breasts will be impacted too.

And while it is very normal to be upset even to be upset or even surprised by these changes, it is important to remind yourself that these changes in your shape are badges of honor. You helped give life to another human being and that is something to be really excited about.

Loving Your New Body

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Carissa-Ann Owen

Over time, you will hopefully come to love the new you. Rejoice in the miracle of childbirth and what your body accomplished. It is not easy to carry a baby for nine months and then go through the birthing process! You earned every single inch and mark. So celebrate that instead of fretting of what the mirror or scales say.

Finding Support

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Amanda Tate

When asked where they get support, many new moms joked about the reality of their situations. It is sometimes easier to use humor when the reality is uncomfortable to talk about. In simple terms, women often lack the support they need.

Many women go into motherhood expecting to do it all, or worse, others expect them to do it all. For those who do get the support they need, credit their partners, close friends, and other family members for helping them when they needed it most.

If you find yourself in need of more support, the first step is to ask for help. Many people do not know what to do or assume you have everything under control. But if things are not under control, you need to let them know that.

Trusting Yourself

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Casey Muckleroy

Most new moms worry about making a mistake or doing something wrong. But what you need to remember is that there is no "right way" or "one way" to be the mom or to care for your baby. It's important to learn to trust yourself and your intuition. Remember, you know your baby better than anyone else! So, if you feel like something is wrong or that there might be a better way than the parenting books suggest, trust your gut.

Navigating the Pressure to Breastfeed

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Sarah Schmidt

While breastfeeding is often touted as the best way to nourish your baby, it is important to note that it is not the "only" way. Fed is best! There are many healthy babies that have not been breastfed.

Unfortunately, because of the American Academy of Pediatrics' stance on breastfeeding, many mothers feel guilty if the do not want to breastfeed or cannot breastfeed their babies. This was never the intention of the policy.

Women should never feel guilty about their choice to choose formula over the breast. There is nothing worse than forcing a woman into breastfeeding to the point that she comes to resent it and her baby.

Leaving the House

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Tamara Sykes

Once you are home with the newborn, it can seem like the days and nights run together, especially in the first few weeks. As a result, the thought of leaving the house to buy more diapers or even just to take a walk can seem overwhelming and many moms feel like they just do not have the energy to leave.

Plus, the thought of packing up the baby and everything they need can seem like a daunting task. But, you need to get out of the house. Even if it is just to walk around your car, the fresh air and change of scenery are good for you and the baby.

Getting Real

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Stephanie Dorsey

There are going to be days when holding your baby will be more out of duty than a magical moment. Sure, there are times when motherhood is pure bliss. But there are a lot of days when you are just trying to get through the day and you are going through the motions.

Most moms encourage you to be authentic about your challenges. After all, most people know that most days of motherhood are not made up of unicorns and rainbows.

Feeling Overwhelmed

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Heather Wagner

Too many times moms push themselves beyond what should be expected. Despite the fact that they are feeling overwhelmed, anxious and frustrated that they cannot seem to calm their crying baby, they push through.

Many times this is motivated by fear and guilt. They are afraid that not holding their baby will scar him in some way. Unfortunately though, pushing yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed does not help the situation. Sometimes the best thing for both you and baby is to put the baby down in a safe place like a crib and walk away for a few minutes so that you can take a deep breath and collect yourself.

Discovering Your Strength

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Dani Talerico

Motherhood is a time when women learn what they are made of. They often find they are stronger and more resilient than they ever imagined. Harness those feelings of confidence whenever possible and embrace all the ways motherhood has changed you for the better.

Facing the Surprises

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Sabrina Duff

The postpartum period is filled with lots of surprising changes, many of which occur within your body. If you are struggling with something that seems odd to you, be sure to talk with your doctor.

Taking Maternity Leave

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Julia Dugas

Most moms are surprised to learn that maternity leave is anything but a vacation. Aside from caring for a newborn all hours of the night and day, they also are trying to recover from 9 months of pregnancy and long hours of labor and delivery. Be sure you recognize that while you may hope for long hours of uninterrupted time to yourself while the baby sleeps, the reality is that that rarely happens.

Going Back to Work

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Sarah Emery-Hall

For most moms, the transition from maternity leave back to work is extremely challenging, especially with their first child. It never seems like maternity leave is quite long enough. If you do not feel ready to return to work, whether physically or emotionally, it might be worth the effort to talk with your boss about other options such as working shorting days or telecommuting.

Juggling It All

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Kristen Lynn

Everyone says "sleep when the baby sleeps." But, if you have other children at home, this is often not possible. Learning to juggle the new baby with the other children can seem overwhelming at times.

Be sure to ask for help with the other kids, especially during those first few weeks when your body is still healing. If your partner or other relatives are not around to help out, then consider hiring a nanny or asking a friend to come and help with your other children until you are feeling better.

Saying No

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Alicia Neal

Everyone wants to hold the new baby. But worries about the spread of cold and flu are a very real concern, especially in the winter months. So, if you do not feel comfortable with people handling the baby, it is OK to let them know—gently.

Resenting Your Partner

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Nikki Marie

Adding a new baby to the mix changes everything. In fact, it is not uncommon for new moms to resent their partner, especially if they seem to have more freedom than you do. Or, perhaps you are disappointed that your partner does not come home immediately after work, especially when you are in need of a break. The best way to address this situation is to have an honest conversation with your partner about your feelings.

Losing Friends

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Cecile Pillar

Once you have a baby, your entire world changes. And like it or not, you are more consumed with motherhood and have less time for the things you used to do. This fact can be particularly hard on your friends that don't have children.

They have no frame of reference for your experience because they have not been through it. To keep from losing your friendships, try to include them in things and once you are feeling like yourself again, set aside time to get together with them periodically.

Feeling Invisible

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Kristin Rodriguez

It is not uncommon for new moms to feel forgotten once the baby arrives.

People tend to forget how challenging childbirth can be and that the new mom probably needs more help now than she did when she was pregnant. Instead, all the attention and focus is on holding the baby and caring for the baby.

For this reason, it is extremely important that new moms learn how to advocate for the help and support they need. Do not fall into the trap of just waiting for someone to offer to help out. Ask for it.

Surviving on Little Sleep

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Michelle Greeley

Sleepless nights and extreme fatigue can catch up with a new mom quickly. As a result, it is very important to try to sleep when you can. You also can try to catch a few winks when your partner is around to care for the baby or when grandma comes to visit. Making it through those long nights is hard if you don't make time to sleep when you can.

Dealing With Fears

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Tanesha Shaylene

Most moms struggle with all sorts of fears when they first get home with the new baby. But it is important to note that not all of these fears are based on things that will actually happen. Eventually, you will settle into your role as a mother and learn to be less fearful that something dreadful is going to happen to your little one. But if these intrusive thoughts don’t go away, happen throughout much of the day, and are very distressing, then tell your doctor and ask for help.

Facing Unrealistic Expectations

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Samantha Lennon

Perhaps the most difficult pregnancy and birth is the second one. Not only is it nothing like the first one, but it also comes with more challenges. Unlike the first time around, you are not alone with the baby but instead, have another child to think about.

What's more, people seem to be less excited about this pregnancy and do not extend as much help as they did with the first. For this reason, it is extremely important that you learn to communicate your needs and articulate what you need help with.

Feeling the Love

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Christen Griego-Fullbright

Despite all the challenges of the postpartum period, there is much to enjoy about your new baby. In fact, there is nothing like getting to snuggle with your baby after a warm bath or cozying up with them in the rocker after they have drifted to sleep. These are the moments you will cherish forever.

Watching Them Learn

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Victoria Nava

One of the most rewarding parts of being a mom is watching your child grow and learn. In fact, it often makes up for all the times you spent pacing the floor with them during their colicky stage.

So, when those early days seem rough and long, remind yourself that this is only a season and that motherhood has so many wonderful moments for you to experience.

Cherishing the Little Things

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Abbey Hunter

There is nothing sweeter than witnessing your baby's first smile. The toothless grin can wipe out even the crappiest of days. When you experience those moments, hold onto them. Not only are they what make motherhood so rewarding, but they also make everything you have gone through so worth it.

Craving Alone Time

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Marissa Janae Adcock

When babies and children are young, they are extremely dependent on you. In fact, they can feel like an extension of yourself at times because you feel like you always have to be at their beck and call.

But needing time alone, even if it just to poop, is a real need that should be honored. Be sure to talk with your partner about your needs and see if they can take some of the workload so that you can have a few moments of peace.

Finding Bliss

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Amanda Camara

There is nothing that touches a mother's heart more than being loved by her child. The first time you experience that reciprocated love, your heart will melt and everything you are going through during postpartum will seem inconsequential. Look for those moments and delight in them.

Celebrating Victories

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Nicole Schmelzer

As your baby grows and develops, the milestones they achieve are a big deal and you need to celebrate those—no matter how small (or messy).

Rediscovering Who You Are

Verywell Family postpartum quote by Tiffany Marie

Too many times when women have a baby, they forget who they are. They stop doing the things they love and become wrapped up in motherhood and what it means to take care of a baby.

While it is never a bad thing to immerse yourself in caring for your baby, you also need to take care of yourself. Motherhood is just another dimension of your identity, not your entire identity. Be sure to make time for yourself and the things that make you who you are.

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert.