So, you did it! You finally pushed that baby out, congratulations! Enjoy every minute of your babymoon. Inhale that intoxicatingly sweet newborn scent. Marvel at her teeny tiny toes or his precious little pouty lips. Put every little grunt and squeaky sound they make into a place forever to remain in your memory. Watch your baby’s eyelashes flutter as she dreams, and treasure each little sleepy spontaneous grin.
Getting to know your baby is one of the most magical times of your life.
Okay, enough with the foofy stuff. Everyone knows all of the above is true and wonderful. But what about everything ELSE that happens after you have a baby? My best friend was here for the birth of my third, precious Penelope. She has never been around a newborn before, or really even been around someone who was pregnant. Her lack of knowledge of the birthing process sparked the idea for this post. There were so many things she had questions about, and so many things she said that surprised her about my experience (especially afterwards) with Penny. Honestly, it is almost like the moms of the past have kept secrets from us! Before I had my first, no one dared ever to speak of the reality of post-partum recovery. I was totally blindsided after I gave birth to her. For your reading pleasure, here is a small glimpse into the dark side of the aftermath of having a baby.
(You may not want to continue further if frank talk about bodily fluids and things of that nature gross you out easily. Keep in mind, I am a mama who has vaginally birthed 3 babies. One with an epidural, one med-free with a couple of interventions, and one med-free and intervention free at home. I can imagine the trials post-partum after a c-section have their own qualified list of surprises, but I have no experience to talk about them. To add a bit of c-section mama love, I polled my mommy group for their first-hand experiences and opinions on all styles of birthing.)
- At first, there will be blood. A lot of blood. Think shark attack or massacre.
- Delivering the placenta after the baby can vary from simple, to a whole big process. Sometimes it has to be helped out. Not fun.
- Your dr or midwife might have to push hard on your newly unpregnant belly to squish blood out. It may not feel great. Ugh.
- Afterpains (your uterus contracting to shrink down again) can be worse than labor, especially for subsequent babies.
- Standing up after birth will feel bizzare. Like your guts are floating around inside you.
(Oh wait, they are.)
- Your belly will wiggle like a bowl of jelly.
- Remember how many phone calls and texts you got asking how you were feeling? Or how many people wanted to see pregnant photos? Or open doors for you? Or tell you how glowy you looked? All of that is in the past. You are now invisible.
- You may not have the muscle tone after birth to even control whether or not you fart. Much less pee or poop.
- That’s where sneeze-peeing comes in. Or laugh-peeing.
- If you had stitches (with my first I had 2 upward tears with a ton of stitches.) going pee will hurt like hell and everytime you go (with dread) you will either a) decide to ONLY pee in the shower, or b) squirt yourself with warm water the whole time to dilute the burn.
- Your first post-partum poop can be scarier than giving birth drug free. Really, they need to make a pooping epidural.
- After a few days, there will still be blood. It smells weird. And you will basically bleed as if you were having a month long non-stop period. (of course the timing varies for everyone. But average.)
- For this reason, the idea of buying depends is actually a good one. I wore grown up diapers (I know.. LOL) for 4 days and it was a lot more comfortable than wearing giant hospital post-partum pads.
- You might have a softball size blood clot plop out of you like a giant gelatinous bloody booger.
- Sometimes breastfeeding isn’t as easy as just putting a baby to the breast. Sometimes it is a lot harder than that and it takes a lot of determination to become successful.
- You produce colostrum before milk, and it can take a few days or more for your milk to come in.
- When your milk comes in, your boobs can suddenly feel like heavy boulders on your chest.
- The first two weeks of nursing are the hardest. Your nipples get sore, they can crack, bleed, and when baby nurses it inspires your uterus to contract and it doesn’t exactly feel great.
- Hearing ANY baby cry will make your boobs spring a leak.
- The spot in your back where the epidural or spinal was placed can give you a spinal headache.
- The spot in your back where the epidural was placed can still hurt years later.
- Gas pains after c-section can be rough.
- You don’t look completely un-pregnant right after birth. It is normal for your belly to take a while to shrink.
- If you got the linea-nigra line on your belly.. It may take a while to go away.
- If you got the linea-nigra line with your first two babies, it doesn’t mean you will have it every time. I have also heard stories of the line appearing darker after birth instead.
- Your body may never look the same – pregnancy and birth can completely alter your shape. For me personally, my hips have gotten wider after each baby.
- You can actually get stretch marks AFTER you give birth. Talk about unfair!
- As much as you may be tempted to exercise after birth or try to start losing the weight, it is so much better for you to wait to do anything strenuous until after you are healed. Doing too much too soon can make you bleed for a longer period of time, and is harder on your body.
- You may sweat a lot more than normal and/or have weird or stronger smelling b.o. than you did pre-pregnancy.
- A few months down the road, there is a good chance you will find fistfuls of hair coming out of your head in the shower. I was afraid I was going bald.
- No sex for 6 weeks.
- Having a C-section doesn’t make you any less of a mommy. You still gave birth to your child. You are still super woman.
- Post-partum depression is real, and can happen to anyone and it isn’t something to be ashamed about.
- Each birth can have a completely different post-partum experience. With my epidural birth, I couldn’t walk up stairs for 2 weeks. With my second birth, I went to target the day I got home from the hospital and felt great. With my third, I stayed in bed for a week because of how weak I felt.
- You forget a lot of the details about how much giving birth may have sucked pretty quickly after you do it. Which is cool.
- Despite all of the above… there’s a good chance the second you hold that precious baby of yours you would be ready to do it all over again!
What are some things that you experienced post-partum that surprised you?
Things you had wished you knew before you gave birth?
I’d love to add them to this list to help enlighten other first time moms.
(*This is not all-inclusive and this wasn’t meant to scare anyone. These things may or very well may not happen to you.
I’m not a medical professional, so all of these are either from my personal experience or from the personal experience of a group of 62 moms that I polled. )