I am a Birth Doula and have been in birth circles for over 5 years now. I know a lot about postpartum. I thought I knew what to expect when I gave birth to my first child, a girl, 3 weeks ago. Wrong! I was amazed by the postpartum that I hadn’t heard about! Maybe you have heard some of these things and maybe you haven’t; hopefully you can relate to some, maybe learn something new, and feel better about yourself in what I have to share!
1. Your vagina is going to hurt/be sore for weeks (and that is without tearing)!
2. Your bum could also join the sore party for weeks, although it could stop hurting sooner than your vagina.
3. Blood clots will come out of you – anywhere from tiny ones to ones the size of cherries. (If bigger than that – call your doctor)
4. You could have a sex drive! Say what?! Yes, you heard me! You could have a sex drive (strong even) right after labor! When you get home from the hospital…at night, while watching a movie…whenever. You could WANT sex! And you know what? You CAN’T! You have to let your body heal, and believe me, your vagina is going to be sore and painful and it doesn’t want to have sex, but the rest of you totally could…OR you could feel like you never want sex again. That is okay too. (Maybe don’t tell your husband that though…)
5. If you do find yourself with a sex drive, you could get creative and think of ways to orgasm that aren’t the typical way, but your vagina will hurt more afterward. The orgasm will feel good, the after won’t….
6. Your breasts will hurt! The first week or so – they can hurt all the time. You will probably have to work on them to help with engorgement (and keep mastitis at bay). Massaging the hard lumps as soon as you feel them is a good idea. Extra pumping can help too.
7. Once you think you are past the engorgement – hard lumps will still show up in your breasts and hurt. Massaging gets rids of them, along with breastfeeding and/or pumping. It hurts!
8. Breastfeeding really is an amazing and magical thing….except maybe at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am…every night/morning when really you want to sleep.
9. Be prepared to be pooped, peed and spit up on multiple times a day/week/hour. Be prepared for said poop, pee and spit-up to get EVERYWHERE. It is amazing how it can travel.
10. Be prepared to wash your clothes, sheets and baby’s clothes and sheets ALL THE TIME (due to above mentioned poop, pee and spit-up.)
11. Little girls can get pee everywhere if you do not have them covered. They are just a lot more covert about it than little boys.
12. Yes, you have heard that you won’t get a lot of sleep and you will be tired. You won’t get a lot of sleep and you will be TIRED. More tired than pregnancy, more tired than when you stayed up studying for a midterm or writing a paper, or partying. More tired than ever before!
13. Walking, which doctors, friends and family tell you to do as much as you can, makes your vagina even more sore.
14. The first poop could be very difficult! Or, you could have a pretty easy first poop…then you go home thinking happily that you are out of the woods and then BOOM…you can’t poop to save your life. This is called surprise constipation. It happens. Invest in prunes, good prenatal vitamins and eat healthy…
15. Holding your baby is the MOST amazing, incredible, awesome thing ever! It will bring tears to your eyes. You won’t believe that you made the little human in your arms. You will think your baby is the CUTEST baby ever! And you are right. It is a feeling like nothing else. Your heart will feel like it is exploding in love. You will walk around smiling…tired, but smiling.
16. People will want to come visit! Hold the baby! Hang out for hours! Learn how to set boundaries. Learn how to say no. Learn how to politely ask people to leave already! It is fun to have people “ooh” and “ahhh” over your baby though. Stand/sit there with pride – you deserve it!
17. Learn how to accept HELP. You NEED it. Don’t feel guilty!! Don’t feel guilty! I don’t care if people are cleaning your bathroom and doing your laundry and walking your dog – take it! Enjoy it! Don’t feel guilty!
18. A new-born baby, I mean days old, is like a sack of rice…floppy, not heavy, but awkward, and floppy.
19. Seeing your husband with your child – priceless. It is amazing, wonderful, tender. You will fall more in love with him than ever before.
20. You will wake up in the middle of the night completely convinced your baby isn’t breathing. You will have to check. Sometimes multiple times a night. Your baby will make noises like it is choking – it is freaking scary! But your child is okay. And, it is okay to check on them. Seriously.
21. Your baby will fart like a grown man! I am not kidding. The noises that will come from your child will amaze you. Your husband is telling the truth – it wasn’t him.
22. Baby sneezes = super cute! Babies sneeze a lot in the beginning because they are getting use to breathing air instead of water. They are not sick.
23. Get use to telling people when you pee and poop. Nurses have to know. Your doctor will ask you about it. Your Mom will probably ask you about it and any friends who just had their own babies will probably ask you about it. While we are on the subject – get ready to discuss your babies pooping and peeing with everyone too.
24. You will hear this question a LOT – “what kind of birth control will you use?” and you will think “I just gave birth! what the heck?!” And then they will say “Breastfeeding is not a form of birth control. You are a lot more fertile when you breastfeed” Just tell them “condoms” They will leave you alone. But – you really do need birth control once your vagina is over the trauma and can handle fun again. You are more fertile when you breastfeed and breastfeeding is not a form of birth control. Just fyi.
25. Cluster feedings, aka “feeding frenzy,” aka “always on the boob!” This is when your child will nurse every hour and you will think all you do is sit with your breasts exposed and breastfeed. You are right. You might even begin to feel like a milk machine. It WON’T LAST FOREVER! I promise! It lasts a couple of days and then stops…but it will come back.
26. Diapers do not make a good backdrops to write on.
27. Being a new mom is a very isolating time in your life. Keep a journal. Talk to your baby. Reach out to friends/family – even if just on the phone. It’s okay to cry.
28. Sometimes the only way your baby will sleep in on your breast or on your chest (or the chest of your hubby).
29. You could be asked “do you know how to wash your hands?” “do you wash your hands?” “do people in your household know how to wash their hands” etc. You might even be gifted an info-graphic on proper hand washing. So, if you don’t know how – now is a good time to learn. You will be tested…
30. Baby brain – this has nothing to do with your baby and everything to do with YOUR brain. You will feel like your brain has somehow left your body, or at the very least become unattached to the rest of you. This can also happen to your husband. It is amazing (and terrifying).
Websites for Facts:
Abstract of “Blood volume changes in normal pregnancy” on PubMed - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4075604
“What Bodily Changes can You Expect during Pregnancy” on Healthline – http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/bodily-changes-during#PhysiologicalChanges2
“Did You Know” on Welcome Home Baby – http://www.welcomebabyhome.com/pregnancy/did_you_know_pregnancy.htm
“21 Amazing Facts about Your Pregnant Body” on Babyexpert - http://www.babyexpert.com/pregnancy/second-trimester/21-amazing-facts-about-your-pregnant-body/1037.html
Here are some resources for all the Dads out there! There are a ton of books available on Amazon or at your local book store, as well as websites galore. Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy!
Doula Rachel has put together a blog of resources, info-graphics, and articles, with an occasional self-published blog. Enjoy!