Before she welcomed her daughter, Jupiter, Ashley Tisdale heard something she didn't quite understand—that is, until she became a mother herself.
"I remember being in the middle of my pregnancy and calling my best friend, who's also a mom, and asking 'Have you heard about this thing where you have to wear DIAPERS after you have a baby?!' She subtly said, 'Oh yea you bleed a lot after'. It's like your friends hide the details and when you get pregnant they forget to mention the worst parts," Tisdale wrote in a post on her blog, Frenshe. "The thing is that's all she said. It wasn't until another friend of mine who had a baby three weeks before I did, called me and said, 'Just so you know, the two weeks after are worse than the pregnancy AND labor." I was shocked and said 'Why? What happens?' Well, she was right."
The actress, who is in the thick of the fourth trimester (she welcomed her firstborn just over a month ago), shared a revealing blog post about her difficult post-baby journey—and made an impassioned argument for why we need to be more open about what new mothers actually face.
"Two weeks after I had Jupiter my body went through so much trying to recover," Tisdale wrote. "Night sweats, (drenched FYI), blood (gross), and I had some real fun symptoms that aren't normal postpartum including nausea and extreme back pain. Like level 10 pain to be absolutely clear."
"The back pain was definitely the hardest part for me, especially because I didn't know where it was coming from," she continued. "Talking to all my doctors about this and trying to figure it out was hard as well. I felt like no one could tell me what was going on with my body and why I had extreme nausea to the point where sometimes I missed a feeding with the baby, and my husband had to supplement formula. There were nights I was crawling onto the floor because my back hurt so bad. "
Finally, the new mom came up with a possible reason for her terrible back pain. "I remembered my doctor asking me what they had me on, which was Motrin. He mentioned that Motrin builds acid in your stomach after a while. I had horrible acid reflux when pregnant, and I wondered if this had something to do with that," Tisdale wrote. "I Googled back pain and acid reflux, and there was a link! Thankfully, after taking the medicine my doctor gave me for it and it was completely gone. I couldn't believe it!"
But while this awful physical symptom resolved, Tisdale—like every other new mama—was dealing with the mental implications of taking on such a massive life change. She clarified that she did not suffer from postpartum depression, but also touched on the difficulty of figuring out who you are once you become a mom. Almost any new mama will tell you: That sensation of simply not feeling like yourself is real. Many of us grieve the people we used to be in our pre-baby lives, and there's nothing shameful about that.
But as a society, we need to do more to make mothers understand that it's natural to struggle through this phase of motherhood. It's normal to feel pain or discomfort after you've birthed a human. It's important to take time to honor what you're feeling, both physically and emotionally. And in order for mothers to do that, we need to prepare them for what the postpartum period really entails.
Tisdale said it perfectly: "I think it's really important to talk about our real experiences and not hide the parts that aren't so pleasant or cute enough to show on Instagram," she wrote.