Common vs. Normal During Pregnancy

So often on Facebook and other social media sites, our birth doulas and postpartum doulas read questions from concerned pregnant folks or new parents asking various questions about if others experienced a similar issue during pregnancy, birth, and/or parenthood. However, we are reframing that question to: Is it common and is it also normal?

So What Is The Difference?

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The main difference between the two very similar words, at least in a pregnancy and postpartum scope, is they can be related, but they can also be the polar opposite.

So what do we mean? Take North Carolina during snow storms: it is common that everyone will buy all the milk and bread to make milk sandwiches, but it is not normal to eat milk sandwiches during snow storms! Kidding, and maybe that’s a bad example, but the difference is while something may be common, it is not necessarily normal.

Normal and Common Pregnancy and Postpartum Issues

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In terms of pregnancy, the normal and common difference is especially important because even though things can occur, that does not make them normal. Like perineal tearing for example. That is a very common occurrence after a vaginal birth, however, it is not normal and should not be treated as it is normal.

Another great example of common vs normal is pelvic floor health. After having a baby, it is very common that women experience pelvic floor pain, urinary incontinence and painful sexual intercourse, but those should never be accepted as normal! You should bring these symptoms up to your medical provider, and you should see a pelvic floor physical therapist.

Just because something is common, does not make it normal!

Below you will find common and normal, and common but not normal symptoms that you may experience in the first few weeks after giving birth. While this list is certainly not complete, it can help you to get an idea that yes, after birth, things may hurt a little, they may change a little, but you daily pain is never normal. Furthermore, as doulas, our scope of practice limits us to only saying what is normal and what is outside the range of normal. As non-medical support, we are simply able to help you find the provider that can diagnosis and treat any common but not normal symptoms you may be experiencing. 

Common and Normal Postpartum Symptoms:

  • Bleeding for weeks

  • Stretch marks

  • Differences in sex after childbirth 

  • Weight loss/gain

  • Swelling 

  • Breast changes

  • Stomach changes

  • Breast discomfort 

  • Back pain

  • Hair loss

Common but Not Normal Postpartum Symptoms: 

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Headaches

  • Daily pain

  • Pelvic floor pain 

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Breast pain

  • Abdominal separation (diastasis recti)

  • Vaginal tearing/episiotomy site pain

  • Cesarean site pain

We hope this starts to get your wheels turning in your brain that while you may be experiencing something completely common, that does not make it normal nor does it make something that you should live with everyday, just because you saw someone of Facebook say it is common.