A woman has literally spent months waiting not-so-patiently for her precious darling to arrive. She can’t wait until her baby’s arrival!
The crib has been set up. The car seat is installed. The nursery is complete. Your hospital bag is packed. Your hospital or birth center route has been planned. You have discussed your birth plan with your doctor or midwife. You have read all the books. You have picked a name for your little darling. You are ready for the big day!
Not so fast, Mama.
We spend a lot of time preparing for the birth of our little ones, but there are a few (or 15) things you need be made aware of sooner rather than later. As a mom of two girls under three, let me break this to you easy.
These are the things I wish someone had told me. And told me again. As a novice at child rearing, I definitely wasn’t prepared with my first daughter for the reality of being a new mom. Experience is the best teacher, but allow me to guide you on this one. I was much better prepared for the birth of my second daughter. I can help you too! Are you ready? Let’s do this!
15 You Will Bleed. A Lot
Your incredible body is expanding in all kinds of ways to accommodate your baby. Your organs are expanding, demanding more blood flow. As a result, your body is creating and pumping about 25-40% more blood to keep your little one healthy. Well, that blood has to go somewhere after baby is born. Revert back to your puberty days, and get prepared with maxi pads and pads or towels to sit on at home in case you bleed through the pad. It will probably happen. Just trust me.
If you are bleeding too much, your doctor may want to give you a methergine shot. If you have an epidural, you won't feel it at all since you'll still be numb. If you don't have an epidural, you'll feel the injection. By this point, you're probably an expert at having all kinds of needles inserted into your body. It will just feel like a pinch, just like every other injection you've received. Ah, the pains of pregnancy. The methergine will help your blood clot more easily.
14 You Will Have Hemorrhoids
A hemorrhoid is a painful swelling of a vein in the rectum. Hemorrhoids may cause you to experience pain or discomfort during a bowel movement. The swollen veins may itch too. Eat a fiber-rich diet with plenty of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables to help soften your stool. Drink plenty of water too - at least eight glasses a day. This will make your time spent on the golden throne more bearable.
If you did any pushing, your tooshy isn’t going to be too happy. Go ahead and up your postpartum care game by buying witch hazel pads now. I like Tuck's best. After delivery fold them up and stick them between your cheeks. You will feel immediate relief from the itching and burning side effects associated with hemorrhoids. You can thank me later. Bonus! Those hazel witch pads will help with itchy stitches from an episiotomy. Stick one in your panties if you are experiencing itching there too.
13 Labor Isn’t The Hard Part
Labor and childbirth are one of the first acts of love you will display for your little one. The days following are crucial for bonding. The next few months will be a blur of dirty diapers, breast or bottle feeding, pediatrician appointments, dirty dishes, and little sleep. Soak up all of those tender moments with your new darling. She won't be little forever. Know that you and your family are her entire world right now. Treat her as such. Talk to her. Read to her. This is the single best thing you can do for your child to aid in intellectual development.
Read to her every day or as much as you can. Classics include The Very Hunger Caterpillar, Hippos Go Berserk, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, I Love You Stinky Face, and On the Night You Were Born. Reading to baby will help you slow down too. It’s hard, Mama. Your new responsibilities as a parent may seem overwhelming. But repeat after me. “I can do this.” You have come this far. Your baby is ready to meet you and learn all about you.
12 You Probably Won’t Use Half The Stuff You Got
Remember when you pored over your baby registry? You read all the blogs, talked to your girlfriends, and researched the latest and greatest products for baby. Who knew a tiny human needed so much! After a baby shower or two, you probably have more than enough for baby. You're probably excited to use all these new products with baby. Hey, the two of you are learning together! Curb your enthusiasm for now. In the beginning baby really only needs food (breastfeed or formula), clothes, a comfortable secure place to sleep, some good books, and love. Don’t worry with the toys, teethers, and baby DVDs right now. All that will come in due time. For now, enjoy snuggling your new love bug.
11 You May Have Your Baby Bump For Months
Don’t worry about it! You just gave birth. Give yourself some slack. With all the sleep deprivation, diaper changing, and breastfeeding, your body is burning enough calories. Save the treadmill for the future. If you're breastfeeding you're burning an extra 200-500 calories per day. All of that calorie burning is sure to leave you tired. It's okay to rest. In fact, it is encouraged!
It's easy to compare yourself to celebrity moms who dropped insane amounts of weight after having a baby. Keep in mind these women have personal chefs, personal trainers, and major help with their newborns. It's going to take you a little longer to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Don't be surprised if you still have a little baby bump months after delivering. This is all normal. Your uterus is working overtime to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. If this is your second pregnancy, it will take longer for your uterus to shrink. Don't pack away all these maternity clothes just yet.
10 You Will Be Hungry. All The Time
Taking care of baby is a lot of work - quite possibly more than you imagined. Especially if this is your first rodeo, you’re still trying to learn the ropes. If someone asks you what you need, you say food. Repeat after me. Food. You need food. You will be too tired to prepare meals for yourselves much less your partner or other children. People are dying to help you. Let them!
With all the tending to your new baby that you're doing, you're burning a lot of calories. Those calories have to be put back in your body in the form of food. It's okay if you find yourself a little hungrier than usual or find yourself grazing (eating small meals/snacks throughout the day).
9 You May Have To Take Heavy Pain Meds
With my first baby, I was in labor for over 12 hours and pushed for 2.5 hours. I had to take oxycodone for two weeks after she was born. Be careful though. Remember you can’t drive if you’re taking heavy duty pain medication. You would think it's just your downstairs that will be sore after delivering your little one. No, honey. Whole regions will hurt. If you have to push for a while, be prepared for a sore back and legs. You will discover muscles you didn't even know you had.
While pain and soreness after delivery due to an epidural isn't super common, it's something you may experience particularly at the site of the injection. Be aware that taking pain medications while breastfeeding means your baby is going to be affected. The medicine doesn't hurt your baby but you may notice that she is a bit cranky for the days immediately following your last dose of pain medication. She'll be okay. You'll be okay. Just be prepared for extra fussiness. If you're in pain, take the medicine your doctor prescribed. Remember she wouldn't prescribe something that wasn't safe for you and your new baby.
8 You Will Be Swollen
If you have a v-birth, you are going to swell up like a balloon. A lot of things had to go on down there for baby to be delivered safe and sound. Don’t worry. It will go away within a couple weeks. It’s not like you can get any action down there for 6 weeks anyway. Don’t look at it. I repeat. Don't look at it.
If you have an episiotomy, a surgical incision of the perineum is sometimes necessary to deliver a baby, so you're going to be sore and swollen. Leave your stitches alone (yes, there will be stitches). They will dissolve in a few weeks and you'll be feeling much better by then too.
Here’s a nice hack from me to you. Take a baby diaper. Yes, a baby diaper. Open it up. Cut the top part where the padding really starts. Fill the opening with ice. Stick the diaper in your underwear, padding part up. Now kick your feet up and "treat yo self" with some Netflix and chill. You’ll start feeling better soon!
7 If You Have A C-Section You Can’t Drive
Sometimes c-sections are planned. Sometimes they’re not. If you wind up having to have one, don’t fret. Just realize you’re not going to be able to drive for a couple weeks, maybe longer. Make sure your partner or a friend can grocery shop for you, pick up medications, or whatever else you need for those couple weeks.
Driving after a C-section may be quite painful. It may be difficult for you to wear a seatbelt comfortably or twist your torso to check your blind spot. Getting in and out of the car will likely be painful, too. Just take it easy. Don't rush back into any activity that may be painful or difficult for you. Focus on healing first and getting back into your (new) normal routine second.
6 Your Social Group May Change
If you don’t have a lot of friends with kids currently, you’ll likely end up adding some to your friend group. Connecting with other moms is great for you and baby. You have both experienced a major life event, a most precious life event. Schedule a play date and talk “mommy” with your new gal pals.
Don't be surprised if friendships with friends you had before you had your baby seem a little off, especially if they don't have children themselves. You have a new life you are responsible for. You're not going to be able or want to go out five nights of the week. This doesn't mean these friendships have to end or even fade! Find new activities you can do with baby and your friends like brunch, shopping, or going for a walk or hike.
5 You May Feel The Need To Share TMI
This is the full story of labor and delivery. Things may have gone perfectly - exactly how you imagined it would be. Things may not have. It’s perfectly natural and normal to feel the urge to share your birth story. That’s why finding other moms is so great for your mental health.
Labor and delivery is a confusing time. Many things are happening at once. It can be quite difficult to process everything through the contractions and the Lamaze breathing. It's alright to spend time after the birth of your new little one processing and making sense of everything that happened on that day, that very special day. Grab some coffee with your sister. Go for a stroll with your best friend and baby. And tell your story. I'm sure all your loved ones are dying to know anyway!
4 You May Feel Blue
Many mothers experience the baby blues after delivering. This is due to the massive hormone dump your body is now experiencing. You don’t need all those hormones anymore because you are no longer supporting another human life in your belly. You may at times feel inadequate as a new parent, like you don't know what in the world you are doing. This is all completely normal. Baby blues typically start two to three days after delivery and can last up to two weeks.
Let me share something with you my dear mother told me. One day I called my mom when I was seven months pregnant with my oldest daughter, Rylee. I was stressed and crying about how I didn't think I would make a good mom and I've never done this before. Mom laughed and said with her signature Southern accent as thick as humidity on a July day in Georgia, "Well you've never been a mama before, but Rylee doesn't know that . And guess what - Rylee has never been a baby before. Y'all will figure it out together!" If you feel you need help, reach out to someone. It’s okay, mama.
3 You May Experience PPD
This is different than the baby blues. Some women, even if they have never experienced depression before may experience Postpartum Depression. An estimated 20% of mothers will experience postpartum depression. It's important to know the signs and symptoms so that you can seek medical advice if necessary. Symptoms of postpartum depression include anxiety, changes in appetite, difficulty sleeping, irritability, sadness, low energy, reduced desire for sex, and crying episodes.
If it’s difficult to get out of bed, care for yourself or baby, or you feel hopeless, reach out to health a professional immediately. They will be able to help you. This does not mean you’re a bad mother. Reaching out means you’re an excellent mother. Recognizing that you need help is important and what’s best for you and baby.
Keep in mind your partner could also experience a form of postpartum depression. An estimated 10% of fathers experience postpartum depression too. Recognize the symptoms and make sure he gets the help he needs. Remember it's not just your life that has changed. His has changed too. Be respectful and patient with him as he adjusts to fatherhood.
2 You’re Going To Have To Learn How To Juggle
Having a baby naturally means less time for you and your partner or spouse. It’s important to spend time alone with each other. You don’t have to do anything fancy if you’re not feeling up to it. Sometimes popcorn and Netflix is all you need. Remind yourselves how lucky you are to have each other and that your baby is really quite lucky too.
If you're a working mama, make sure you have safe childcare planned for your baby once you return to work. You will feel a lot a better if she has someone you can trust and contact throughout the day if need be, to check in on baby. It may be difficult for you to adjust to your new schedule with the addition of a family member, but don't worry. You will find a schedule that works best for you and your baby. Pretty soon it will come naturally.
1 You’re Going To Talk About Baby Non-Stop
The few months following the birth of your new darling will completely wrap you up into motherhood. Everything will be baby. You will talk about baby all the time. That’s great! It means you’re excited about your new role! I’m sure your mom, grandmother, sister, friend, partner will indulge all your baby talk. You will instantly connect with other mothers with young children. You will find yourself talking to complete stranger moms about your baby. You'll listen to her talk about her little darling to, you little social butterfly.
Don't be surprised if Dad is obsessed with your new addition too. Listen to him talk about his hopes and dreams for your baby. You'll reach a new level of intimacy gushing over the beautiful child the two of you love and care for. Enjoy every moment!
Sources: WebMD.com and MayoClinic.org