Many new moms will tell you the postpartum period is overwhelming, joyous, and incredibly intense. And like so many experiences that are specific to women, it’s shrouded in secrecy and an element of shame.
Of course, everyone wants to see pictures of the new baby. But when it comes to the enormous physical shifts that happen in our bodies—the fluids, the pain, the stitches, the scars—a distinct don’t-talk-about-it energy persists.
At least I found all of this to be true. As the content creator for BRANWYN’s In the Wild Blog, I typically share other women’s stories. But after welcoming my first baby this May, I felt compelled to write about my own.
My daughter Sawyer came into the world quickly and with very little warning. By the time I made it to the hospital, my midwives informed me that I was 7 centimeters dilated and nearly ready to push. Wait! I’m not ready! I thought. But babies don’t wait.
As it turns out, birth wasn’t the only thing I was underprepared for. The next few months were filled with surprises — some delightful, some harrowing. I quickly learned that during the fourth trimester, you need all of the help you can get. I also gained a new-found appreciation for the magic of Merino wool. BRANYWN’s Innerwear became an indispensable part of my postpartum experience. Here’s why I’d recommend Merino to any new mom — and a real-life look at the nitty, gritty, TMI parts of the transformative period following birth.
Fluids, fluids everywhere.
Within the first few hours following labor and delivery, a nurse comes in with the largest diaper you’ve ever seen. Spoiler: It’s not for the baby.
It’s common for postpartum women to bleed at a period-level frequency for 30 days or more. There’s also the milk leaking from your breasts, the fluid seeping from your pores, intermittent incontinence (fun!), and night sweats (more on that later) — not to mention everything the baby is expelling 24 hours a day.
One morning, after nursing Sawyer, I felt something warm and wet pooling in my lap. Without looking, I tried to guess what this could be and found myself amazed by the sheer number of possibilities. If you’re curious, it turned out to be spit-up that had slid down her back.
Postpartum is no time to worry about impeccable hygiene, but BRANWYN’s Merino bras and underwear can make you feel a bit less soggy. The natural moisture-wicking properties of wool allow the fabric to hold 30 percent of its weight in water. Bonus: I found the bralette worked as a nursing pad to help prevent leaking through my shirt.
Why so sweaty?
Hormonally speaking, giving birth is like hitting a brick wall at full speed. The estrogen and progesterone that have been pumping through your body for the last nine months come to a grinding halt the moment the baby arrives. These stark hormonal shifts affect your hypothalamus, the area of the brain responsible for body temperature. A drop in estrogen sends your hypothalamus out of whack, leading it to signal severe sweats.
If regular sweats are like a rainstorm, postpartum night sweats are a typhoon. One minute, you’re sleeping soundly, the next you’re soaked, hair slick and sticking to your back. Some women I know would take 2 a.m. showers before going back to bed. Sleep, for me, felt way too precious. Enter Merino: Another benefit of this natural material is the ability to help your body temperature regulate. BRANWYN kept me cooler and drier, helping to ease the discomfort between night feeds.
Your ever-changing chest.
Everyone’s pregnancy journey is different, but for me, gestation made my chest explode. I started out as a modest C-cup and stopped measuring after I hit E. They can’t get any bigger after birth, I thought. Turns out I was wrong.
The most significant shift in breast size often comes a few days post-delivery when your milk comes in. As the volume of milk increases to feed your hungry baby, breasts can feel impossibly heavy and large. I experienced the sensation of my skin feeling so tight it felt like it might split.
When it comes to well-fitting bras, the idea of a “cup size” for nursing moms goes out the window. Your breasts are changing size and shape on a not just daily, but hourly basis. The Essential Bralette and Busty Bra were critical for me during this period. Unlike a traditional bra, my bralette morphed with me throughout the day, giving me some much-needed support. (See more reasons why lactation consultants think they make the perfect nursing bra.)
A newfound smelliness.
“I am honestly shocked by how bad I smell,” a postpartum friend told me, fresh from the shower. I could relate.
Before release in the hospital a nurse warned me to watch out for foul-smelling discharge. “Well, the blood does smell pretty bad,” I told her. She asked me to describe it: “Umm… maybe like … death?”
It turns out everything was fine—the smell of death was all perfectly normal. The discharge (known as lochia) is composed of blood, mucus, uterine tissue, and “other materials,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. Everything besides the baby that’s been cooking away for 40 weeks of pregnancy has to get out somehow.
On top of this, hormonal changes lead to an overall increase in natural funk. Just like the scents that crop up during puberty, postpartum comes with new odors that can seem quite unpleasant.
Merino’s naturally antimicrobial properties help keep smells at bay to help you feel a little bit more like yourself in these metamorphic months
A better future.
As soon as you become pregnant, your mindshift starts to shift — literally. Research shows that even before giving birth, neurological changes occur within the brain to prepare for your new arrival. (Your mind can also feel as if it's betraying you, and if you're struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety, know that this is normal and help is available).
I was lucky enough not to experience the difficult mental health battles so many women face, but mind shifts happened for me in a million ways. One big one: The future of our planet was — and is — constantly on my brain. Sawyer was born weeks before the hottest June on record, according to NASA’s global temperature analysis. As she is learning how to roll and letting out her first coos, Mount Rainier is melting, Maui is recovering from devastating wildfires, and coral around the globe is slowly dying due to ocean temperatures incompatible with life.
This is terrifying, but it’s motivating, too. Making choices that are sustainable and kind to the earth is more important to me than ever. Naturally sustainable Merino wool is a renewal resource that naturally degrades. A healthier choice for all moms — including our Mother Earth.