The fourth trimester is a unique time like no other: hazy, sleep-deprived, sweet, and often overwhelming, it’s a time of rapid development for your newborn and bonding for your family. But while we focus on the baby as the star of the show, what do the weeks and the months after childbirth look like for Mama, who did the immense work of bringing life into the world?

Moms share what they wish they knew about the postpartum period – the good, the ugly, and the hilarious.

Faith Beck, @LifeForeverChanged 

stay at home mom postpartum
Photo: @lifeforeverchanged on instagram”

“I find some days I judge myself a lot being a stay at home mom. I feel because I’m here I should have the house cleaned. meals prepared. Laundry done. Kids on a perfect schedule. But I don’t.

But who’s really came up with this alternative reality? Who made it seem as a mother we are not doing enough? Society? Family or friends? Ourselves?

Life is NOT perfect. It never will be. There will be days you are on it. And days that you just aren’t. And that doesn’t mean you are a bad mom.

Allow yourself to put the expectations aside. Show your self some GRACE! And just take it one day at a time. Because everyday you are being the best mom you can be.”

KJ, Mom of 2, NYC

photo: @lifeforeverchanged on Instagram

“They say it takes nine months to put the weight on and at least nine months to take the weight back off. Give yourself some grace. You just made a person. It will take a while for your body to adjust and sometimes it won’t go back to normal again until after you finish breastfeeding or go back onto your birth control regime. That’s OK. No one worries about it but you.”

Annalisa, Mom of 3, Colorado

“Stretch marks fade. And no one notices them but you.”

Leigh, Mom of 2, Chicago

“If you feel something wrong, make sure to talk to someone about it. If your doctor shrugs it off, make sure to talk to someone else about it. You live in your own body and while postpartum is full of aches and pains you know your body best, so if something feels off, find someone who listens.”

Sasha, Mom of 1, California

“Sex might be quite painful for a while. But it gets better! Try returning to good old teenage antics and go for epic makeout sessions instead. If you feel off, talk to your provider and see if a pelvic floor therapist would be helpful.”

Aimee, Mom of 1, NYC

Photo: @lifeforeverchanged on Instagram

“The sag is real.”

Elizabeth, Mom of 1, Brooklyn

“I heard from friends that [post-birth recovery] could be intense, so was prepared to take it slow and be kind to myself, but wasn’t prepared for all that my body might actually go through. For example, I wasn’t expecting the intense stomach cramping that was stimulated by breastfeeding in those early days and I didn’t expect breastfeeding to be so painful. Fortunately, I got help from a lactation consultant and ultimately had a really positive experience with breastfeeding, but it took time to get the hang of it.”

Karlie, Mom of 1, Maine

postpartum letterboard
photo: @lifeforeverchanged on Instagram

“It would have been really helpful to know about the experience of your milk coming in – they were huge, constantly flowing, and painful, and I was not prepared. The most uncomfortable, which I’m glad I didn’t know about, was the constipation. One tip I’d have for postpartum mamas is to go all-in on comfort and buys some of the new comfy Depends for bleeding – so much better than what they give you at the hospital.”

Ashley, Mom of 2, Albany

postpartum parenthood

“I’d say my top five – the bleeding/lochia (I knew it would happen, but never knew what was an okay amount), that melasma never goes away, getting the shakes post-delivery, I’d lose enough hair to make wigs for people, and, while not physical, that I wish I had so much more information in mental health – what’s normal and not.”