If you’re like me you probably had an image in your head about what childbirth and becoming a mom would look like. You have probably gotten lots of tips and advice from family members, and friends and think you are pretty well-prepared for what is to come.
I thought the same thing as well….
WHY are there so many things that people don’t tell you? I felt like I was trying to navigate uncharted waters alone!
Let’s get in to the nitty gritty dirty details of what childbirth, the aftermath, and the first few days of having your baby at home are really like.
I will note that this is from my experience. I had two vaginal deliveries, and have never had a C-Section, so I can’t comment from experience on that one and would feel wrong doing so.
- We all know childbirth is painful. But what they don’t tell you that when you’re pushing – it feels like you are taking a giant poop after drinking 13 bottles of hot sauce. The term “ring of fire” is real. My mom told me when I was getting close to my due date with my firstborn to make sure I go to the bathroom when labor starts – because not only will it feel like you are pooping – YOU WILL! Empty the tank out and you will thank yourself later (or thank me). Literally though, you will probably be so out of it that you either won’t notice, or won’t care.
- It’s not over when the baby comes out. No no, it sure isn’t. You still have to deliver the placenta. After your baby is born, expect your nurse or doctor to push hard on your newly deflated stomach to help release it. If you thought delivering your baby was bad – just wait for this. It takes the cake. It can take anywhere from about 10 minutes to an hour for this process to usually happen.
- If you tear – you will need stitches. Nope, you don’t get to close your legs yet after this whole ordeal is done. Tears of some degrees are fairly common, especially if it is your first baby. If you have any sort of tear, you will need stitches. There are four degrees of tears, and they get worse as the numbers go up. Think of 1 as just a skin nick, and 4 is the worst of the worst. Front to back, right through the butt.
- Your belly does not go away right away. It will look like you are about six months pregnant for a while, then it will move on to looking like a deflated balloon. Don’t let this get you down, you just grew a freakin’ human in there! After the big event is all said and done, you will probably be down about 12-15 pounds depending on the size of your baby.
- Diapers will be your best friend. I don’t mean for the baby, I mean for you. The nurses will help you in to a contraption of mesh underwear and a massive maxi pad the size of Texas. You will be bleeding what is called lochia. Yup, its gross. Yup, its annoying, and yup, it will last for a few weeks. Generally 2-6 but everyone is different, so stock up on whatever it is you plan to use after you get home so you are well-prepared. Don’t forget to steal the stash in your hospital room. May as well get something free out of it I guess, hey? Check out my DIY Postpartum Padsicle Recipe!
- Someone will be checking your lady bits every couple of hours. Nurse comes in, you lay down, they look down your pants, and push on your stomach. If you’re lucky like I am, you will have a nurse toting around a group of nursing students that all get to do the above task each time. Oh well, everybody has to learn somewhere, right?
- They make you poop before you leave. Yes, more poop talk. After delivery the nurses will start giving you a stool softener, along with any pain medication you are on. They will ask you every time they come to check on you. Have you pooped yet? I believe the official term they use is “bowel movement”. No lady, I just pooped out a watermelon, I have done enough of that for one year. If you want to go home, just do it. (Pack some TP in your bag for this moment, the hospital supply is rough)
- Hemorrhoids and Peeing Yourself. It just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it? Fact is, these two are fairly common after birthing your baby. Pushing so hard to get the little one out can and probably will give you the dreaded H word, and the aftermath of it all will probably leave you a little leaky. Stock up on the Preparation H, Tucks Pads, and do your dang Kegals.
- The squirt bottle. Ohh this lovely little device. If you are all swollen and stitched up this thing will be your best friend when going to the bathroom. Fill it up with warm water and squirt it “down there” when you are going, and after. It helps keep you clean, and eases the stinging. Don’t forget to stick it in your bag when you go home, you will need it there too.
- Bleeding nipples. If you are breastfeeding your baby, prepare for some pain. Your baby is going to learn to latch, and want to suck A LOT! This is also how your milk comes in, which takes a few days. So let that baby suck. Ask the nurses for help to make sure your baby is latching correctly to help prevent damage to your nipples. Earth Mama Nipple Butter is also a great little barrier method to use on sore cracked nipples. It is safe for babies to ingest as well, so slather that stuff on like butter. The hospital will probably give you samples of Lanolin Cream – also another great choice for sore cracked nipples.
- The contractions don’t end. While your uterus is shrinking, you will experience what are called after pains. This is your body contracting the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size. Nursing your baby will intensify these pains, be prepared!
- The Baby Blues. Your emotions are in overdrive. I don’t know if everyone experiences this but I sure did. I was crying one minute, laughing the next, and angry about something the next. Don’t worry, it does go away after a while. It just takes a little bit for your hormones and all that jazz to mellow out. Talk to your doctor though if they last more than two weeks. They may want to screen you for post-partum depression.
- Cluster feeding. There is no way to explain this process except for living hell, and there is no way to describe the feeling of it until you have lived it. When babies cluster feed they can be on the boob for three hours at a time or more. Then repeat process for up to 24 hours. They do this in the beginning while establishing milk production, and during growth spurts. It is frustrating, and you will probably cry. Get a good nursing pillow early on. It is short-lived though, and you will get through it.
- Buy a bath robe. I feel like a dairy cow constantly being milked, and can’t be bothered to get dressed at home anymore. It has been over six months and I very rarely wear clothes around the house. If I do, its a nursing bra and some type of short short on the bottom with my bath robe over top. Cute right? Buy a comfy one, you’ll live in it.
- Baby’s first poop. Seriously, who knew poop was such a huge part of having a baby. Think tar, only worse. Your baby’s first poop is awful, and never ending. I think with my son we blew through about 8 diapers in a matter of minutes, and Marlow was damn near the same. It just keeps coming, and it sticks to skin like glue. This is just them cleaning out their insides after 9 months inside the womb. Once they are finished, their poop is much more pleasant. If that is possible.. Stock up on baby wipes and diapers before bringing home your baby that way you won’t have to worry about running out during one of these moments!
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Easier said than done. Newborns have to eat every 2-3 hours, and will sleep when they aren’t eating. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. You will spend 30-45 minutes of that time feeding baby, and maybe an hour after that rocking and burping baby to sleep. So there goes an hour and a half, if your baby is on a two-hour feeding schedule, you have maybe half an hour free before they wake up hungry again. Maybe. I suggest buying a sleep mask or some black out blinds to help you get some shut eye if you aren’t much of a napper.
- No sex. Not that you will want to anyways, or maybe you will, but I sure didn’t. They say no bumpin in the bed sheets until after your six week check up. This will give your body time to heal from the whole ordeal, and this way there is a lesser chance of infection. Don’t forget to think about birth control – just because you are breastfeeding does not mean you are safe. Use protection. You’ll thank me later.
- Your relationship changes. You are both running on little to zero energy, and tensions run high. You will probably argue,and if you are like me, you will probably want to smother your spouse with a pillow as you watch them sleep while you can’t stop thinking about the 39 loads of laundry that are piling up by the minute. Give it some time, you two will eventually work yourselves in to a great routine. I have a new-found love for Michael watching him grow in to an amazing father to our daughter that I never knew was possible.
Have I Scared You?
I sure hope not, that really was not my intention. These are just a few things that were never told to me during pregnancy that I wish I knew.
If you have any questions about anything mentioned or not mentioned here please feel free to ask away in the comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to answer them!
Happy Birthing 😉