Giving birth is an amazing experience, and there are classes to prepare pregnant women for what to expect when they are in labor. However, many moms forget to prepare for the biggest part of the journey: the days after the baby is born, also known as their first days on the parenting journey.
The early days of parenting are beautiful but hard, and women often focus so much on prepping for the baby that they don't think about what to expect when the baby actually arrives. Registries and baby showers help cover the material issues, but there is very little to prepare mom for the emotional and physical surprises.
Unfortunately, moms often don't talk about those early parenting days because it's easy to forget them later on. Plus, in the middle of the chaos that is the first few days, many moms don't know who to turn to with questions or concerns. They worry that their feelings may not be normal or that they are over exaggerating their pain. That's why so many very normal first day experiences are never discussed.
The first few days after a child is born are some of the most vulnerable that a parent will have, and many of the things that occur seem strange. However, most of it is very normal and experienced by many moms on their parenting journeys. It's just good to know beforehand what some of the experiences will be like so mom will know that she's not going through anything out of the ordinary.
15 Horrible First BM
The first time mom has to go to the bathroom after the baby is born is memorable. Many hospitals require mom to have a bowel movement before releasing her to go home, and it's an absolutely horrible experience that will haunt mom for life.
Many women go into the experience constipated because pregnancy can cause stool to back up. If mom didn't accept the stool softeners that were offered and hasn't stayed hydrated, this experience will be even worse. Whether mom had a C-section or a vaginal delivery, pushing stool out of the body hours after having a child is awful, and many compare it to trying to poop out glass.
There's not much good news here except to say that the pain and the fear of going to the bathroom are perfectly normal. Plus, when mom finishes pooping, she gets to go home!
14 Rivers Of Blood
Many women are surprised by the massive amount of blood they lose. It's hard to imagine our bodies soaking through what look like adult diapers while we are taking care of an infant, but women are truly amazing, so they just keep going.
The placenta being removed from the body is the cause of much of this bleeding, so even women who don't give birth vaginally will bleed. Doctors will watch moms to make sure they don't have a postpartum hemorrhage, but most of the time the bleeding is normal and can last for weeks.
Women often don't talk about blood loss because it's gross to think about, and they may assume their bleeding is excessive compared to other people's. It's likely not, as most women are able to confess years later that the amount of blood they lost was frightening and left them feeling depleted.
13 Partner Hate
No matter how supportive our partners are, moms feel resentment in those early days after birth. It's nobody's fault; the reality of the parenting situation just sinks in, and moms find that they will be the ones on call 24/7 for years.
Babies who breastfeed want mom all the time, and dads can't help in this area. Plus, a baby recognizes mom's heartbeat and her voice, and he will quickly learn to love her smell. Babies are wired to want to be near their mothers. It's not for lack of love for dads. It's just that babies grow inside of moms' bodies for nine months, and they like the familiarity.
However, it's difficult to recover from childbirth and be on call for a baby all the time, and moms can start to resent the freedom their partners have to move around or eat a meal without holding a baby. It may not be fair to feel this way about a partner who is really trying, but mom will experience resentment anyway.
12 Feeling Blue
Women feel a bit down after birth, often called the baby blues. Having the baby blues feels a lot like being weepy or feeling extremely vulnerable. Women may cry about things that didn't previously bother them, and they may just have a feeling of sadness. This usually lasts for about two weeks after birth, at which point mom's hormones stabilize enough to give her a break.
The baby blues and postpartum depression(PPD) are not the same, though some of the symptoms overlap. One major difference is that postpartum depression doesn't go away after a couple of weeks, and the symptoms get worse over time, not better.
Luckily, talking about PPD is much more popular, so women who suffer with it feel like they can reach out for help without there being any kind of stigma. However, women don't always talk about the baby blues, deeming it not as important or just feeling unsure of how to talk about something that feels so intense over a short period of time.
11 Aches At The Top And The Bottom
The acute pain of labor is over, but postpartum pain is no joke. Women who get through giving birth then have a whole world of pain waiting on the other side, but most don't even know it because it's the pain that's not discussed as much.
After birth, mom's milk will come in, and that is a very unique kind of torture. Letting the baby nurse will help alleviate some of the pressure, but mom will still feel surges of hurt as her breasts fill up. Nothing about birthing classes prepares moms for this.
There's also the pain down below to deal with, which can range from a dull ache to major, sharp pain. Women who have vaginal deliveries often tear, and some need episiotomies which can make pain down there even worse. Women who have C-sections will deal with all the pain that comes from recovering from a major surgery. There's no escaping the hurt.
10 Feeling Overwhelmed And Under Qualified
The first days of being a new parent are overwhelming for a plethora of reasons. Moms are recovering from pregnancy and birth, and babies are not really the kind of people who cut others a lot of slack. Breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, and dirty diapers add up to a large amount of responsibilities, some of which mom may not feel qualified to handle.
Crying babies are also extremely overwhelming, and they are supposed to be. Crying is the only way they know to have their needs met, but for a mom who isn't sure what else she can give, the cries can be very hard to handle after not getting any rest.
It's okay to ask for help and to take advice from other trusted moms. Everyone figures out the parenting thing when they are actually on the job, meaning everyone goes through feeling overwhelmed and like they have no idea what they are doing.
9 Complete And Total Brain Shut Down From No ZZZZs
People try to tell moms-to-be about sleep deprivation, but there's just no way to prepare anyone for what the loss of sleep does to us, both physically and mentally. It affects our brain function, our ability to move properly, and it does a number on our already fluctuating emotions.
Women stuck in the throes of sleep deprivation in those early days may feel desperate. They are responsible for taking care of children, but their brains feel as if they've turned to Jell-O. How are we supposed to survive?
In days past and still in certain cultures, women are surrounded by family and friends to help them through those first hard days after giving birth. Unfortunately, today's society puts the focus on mom bouncing back and living as an island, refusing to admit to needing help. This is an area where we need to take cues from the past and ask for a small tribe of trusted people to offer us a cocoon while we survive the hard, lack-of-sleep days.
8 Heart-Pounding Anxiety
Postpartum anxiety is real, but most women don't hear about it because they are only aware of its cousin, postpartum depression(PPD). More attention is paid to PPD, and it's good that talking about depression after birth is now allowed without there being any sort of stigma. However, PPA hasn't received that same reception, and many women don't even understand that it exists.
PPA and PPD are similar in many ways, but they are also different. A woman who passes a PPD assessment but is still suffering from irritability, non-stop worry, and anxious feelings that keep her from resting may be suffering from PPA. It's common, and it can be terrifying.
Many moms just assume it's normal to be full of nerves after they give birth, and to a certain extent it is. However, PPA crosses into a different territory, and mom may need treatment to help her recover.
7 Unexpected Loneliness
When we have a baby, we're never truly alone again. We have a constant companion in our children, so why do women feel so lonely during those early days?
Often loneliness comes because of the complete life change having a baby creates. We aren't hanging out with friends or going to work in those early days, and while we want to absorb every minute with our babies, infants aren't great conversationalist. Moms often feel like everyone is hanging out and they are alone at home trying to figure out how to be a parent.
This feeling is normal, and mom needs to talk to others about it and get some support. Friends and family can come keep mom company if she desires, and her partner needs to know that tuning in to her needs is crucial. Mom will make her way back into the world soon enough, but until she does, asking for emotional and social support is a good idea.
6 Breast Drama
Breastfeeding is described as a natural process, and everyone knows the benefits of feeding our babies from our bodies. It's a wonderful experience, but it's also a very difficult one, with those early days of nursing being some of the most painful and stressful ever.
If mom is lucky, a good lactation specialist will visit her in the hospital and help her get the hang of things. If not, she can call breastfeeding support places for help. However, many moms don't because they fear being shamed for having problems with nursing.
There is nothing to be ashamed of. Breastfeeding is beautiful, complicated, and painful, all at the same time, and that's okay. Moms who want to nurse need to reach out for help in those early days, because early success has been connected to a longer nursing relationship. Don't wait it out in pain, alone.
5 Big Feelings About Our Own Parents
When we have children, one of two things happens, though some women experience a variety of both. Some moms think back on the relationships they had with their parents, and gratefulness flows through them. When they realize how much they love their children and what they would go through for them, they view their upbringing in a completely different light and are overwhelmed by the love their parents have for them.
Other moms, usually ones who have complicated relationships with their parents, may feel anger or resentment rise within them. The realization that they would do anything for their children makes them wonder how their parents could have made some of the decisions they did, decisions that hurt them.
Hormone fluctuations will make these feelings even more intense, and mom will likely want to talk to someone about how she feels. Many women don't, but keeping these revelations bottled up long term isn't a good idea.
4 Birth Story Thoughts
Labor's over, right? Technically, yes. However, in those early days after birth, mom will think back on her labor and delivery obsessively, recounting the story to try to remember the details. This can be good or bad, depending on the situation.
For women whose birth went they way they wanted, it may be a pleasure to look back and think about how their bodies performed. It can be empowering to realize what our bodies can do, and women who have birth stories that stayed on course may draw strength from them in those early days.
However, women who had surprises during labor, like emergency C-sections or interventions they didn't expect, may rehash these details in the early days and feel guilty or responsible for how it turned out. Even when the babies are born safely, many women feel bad about not giving them the ideal birth that they planned. Again, hormone fluctuations make these feelings especially hard to process in the early days.
3 Fear Of Losing The Baby
There is no fear like the fear a mom feels upon bringing home her child. Suddenly the whole world looks like a threat, and she doesn't feel equipped to protect her offspring.
There are real threats to newborns, such as failure to thrive, sudden infant death syndrome(SIDS), and health problems. However, moms will learn to deal with these worries over time and will come to understand they can only control so much. It never stops being scary, but it becomes manageable.
In those early days after birth, nothing feels all that manageable. Moms will worry about their babies dying, being kidnapped, and a ton of other unlikely scenarios because the hormones run through her body and the love running through her heart won't be able to calm down. It's terrifying, and many moms will suffer from postpartum anxiety because of it. If these feelings don't lessen over the first month after birth, mom may need some help.
2 Feeling Bald
Remember that lush, pregnancy hair that was so thick and shiny? Yeah, it's going to start falling out, probably just days after mom gives birth. Blame hormones and mom's changing body after delivery, but don't be surprised to find hair in the shower that fell out during the wash.
Some women also develop thyroid problems after giving birth, and they may lose hair because of that. However, in the early days it can just as easily be explained by hormone issues that make mom feel like she is shedding. She will find hair everywhere in the house and be frustrated when she realizes it's coming from her head.
Taking prenatals while she is nursing may help slow down the process, but this is perfectly normal and nothing to be alarmed about as long as it occurs without other suspicious symptoms.
1 The Post-Body Shame
Our bodies do not just go back to normal right after birth. In fact, they never really go back to normal, but they definitely don't feel recognizable in those early days. For some reason, moms have bought into society's obsession with bouncing back, whatever that is supposed to mean, so instead of enjoying those early days with their babies, they sit around feeling bad about their stomachs and saggy breasts.
Shame is powerful, and we're lucky that women are coming forward to pull back the curtain on what bodies truly look like after birth. Hilary Duff and Hilaria Baldwin both posted pictures to confirm that it's okay to look like we have had children, because we have. Non-celebrities have also used social media to post pictures normalizing the post-birth body so moms can have realistic expectations and not waste time beating themselves up for stretch marks or cellulite.