A pregnant woman will read everything she can about the last weeks of pregnancy and especially the way labor might go. Labor is the goal, the endpoint, and the result of nine long months of hard work. It's a momentous occasion that changes her life forever.
But after the baby is born, there will be no time to get adjusted to the new situation. You will be absorbed in taking care of the new life which can make preparing for anything more than an hour ahead of time too hard to contemplate. The first 3 months after your baby’s birth can be particularly overwhelming, and there will be a slew of things that will slap you in the face if you aren’t prepared for them.
All this suggests that you should take some steps to prepare during pregnancy for some changes that might crop up. At least you can be mentally prepared to accept that some things might happen within the first months so that you don’t spend energy fretting over whether it is normal. That is what this list for: the following things might happen and you can take some steps to at least accept that these are normal conditions.
15 Different Kind Of Exhaustion
Most people know that new moms tend to be tired. At an intellectual level, we all probably ‘know’ that caring for an infant is tiring. However, the extent of the fatigue surprises everyone. It can be especially the first couple of days when your body is depleted from pushing a melon-sized critter from your own body. You are going to need some time to recover and recoup your strength. What To Expect suggests that you start enlisting help from others early on and arrange to have things delivered to your house.
You can order food staples online to save yourself trips to the store and give yourself permission to order dinner as often as you need to. You might even hire someone to do the basic cleaning once a week.
What To Expect, of course, also parrots the line about sleeping when the baby sleeps, but that presupposes that you have someone else doing the chores that can’t be done while you are caring for the baby. Either that or get one of those slings that allows you to wear the kid while you do things. Definitely accept that you will be late in answering emails and the house will look a bit messy for a while.
14 Nookie Is Still Painful
Physical intimacy changes for a lot of women after they give birth. And when I say ‘a lot,’ I mean almost a majority of women. According to a poll from NCBI, only 14% of women say that the physical intimacy didn’t become more difficult after they give birth. Women complain of decreased sensation 35% of the time and decreased satisfaction 24% of the time for up to 6 months after giving birth. About 22% of the time women reported that they started feeling pain during the act. These problems can linger for up to a year and a half after you give birth.
You can see this as Mother Nature’s way to space children out, but it does make your life a little less joyful. Your first step in recapturing a little of that joy is to accept that nookie won’t be as great for a little while. You can get intimate with your significant other about 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth, so training your expectations will help get you through the year. You can also plan on using plenty of lube and taking your time the first couple of times. The entire affected area has been put through the ringer, so it will need lots of priming to get back to pre-baby sensation.
13 Shedding The Hair
While you are pregnant, hormones encourage your hair roots to hang on longer than usual. This can lead to your personal mane being thick and luxurious for 9 months. About a week after the kid is born, however, things will change. According to Parents.com, the average person loses 100 hairs a day, and your body wants to compensate for the 9 months that it was losing far less.
You will start shedding all that extra hair for about 6 months. You might find that pretty unnerving, but you can deal with it.
Jill Connor Browne, the Sweet Potato Queen, has the right idea when she says that pregnant women should not get their hair styled and cut. You’re going to lose all that hair and then the beautiful haircut cut will look limp and depressing. You don’t need that hassle. After the baby is born, you can get your hair cut to be easy to care for lovely in its current state. You will want to streamline your hair care regime so you will look fabulous even while spending all your time chasing a baby. Your natural hair growth cycle will come back by the end of the year, so you can adjust your hairstyle as you go along.
12 The Long-Term Effects From Sleep Deprivation
Since infants wake up every couple of hours, moms start getting into the habit of waking up often, too. According to a study published in hindawi.com, most healthy moms slept about 6 hours a night by the second month and took an hour nap in the afternoon. Now, some of us can operate on 6 hours with ease, and others of us need a minimum of 8 hours to be even remotely coherent.
This change up can be hard on some, though many find that they can take it in stride for the short term at least. The problem is with poor sleep. A study published by BiomedCentral indicates that
sleeping poorly for a long time may indicate or make postpartum depression worse.
There was also a study found that older first-time mothers had worse sleep than younger mothers, though about a third of the young women in the study reported spates of restless nights.
Your best bet for combating this is to try to stick to a bedtime routine- though that is difficult with an infant who has other ideas. The best you can do is trade off soothing duties with the spousal unit at night and know that the kid will sleep through the night eventually and then you will be able to get back to your routine.
11 The Supply Gets Leaky
According to What To Expect, some women start dripping colostrum as early as the first trimester. However, most don’t. The milk doesn’t normally start filling up until your 3rd day postpartum. It can be frustrating for both you and the baby but resolves on its own quickly.
Once the milk does come in, though, it drops like lead. This can make your breasts sore, especially around your nipples. You can have ice packs and warm washcloths packed around to use to soothe your sore spots. Leaning into a bowl of warm water can take the pressure off your milk ducts. Once your breasts get really full, the milk can start leaking out and leave you with stains on your shirts. This can be a problem for as long as you breastfeed.
Getting ahead of this can start early. Your 3rd trimester is a good time to invest in a comfortable nursing bra. While you are looking at the new bras, you may want to grab some nursing pads and dark patterned tops. The dark shirts will hide the stains, and the pads will soak up the leaks. You will want to grab the nursing pads and a bra before the baby comes because it’s much easier to shop without a baby hanging on you.
10 Things Get Sore And Cracked
Some people glorify breastfeeding, treating it as a heaven-sent activity that encapsulates all that is magical and wonderful about motherhood. Near-miraculous powers are attributed to milk and the activity is lauded left, right and center. It isn’t that breastfeeding isn’t a good plan and has benefits for you and the kid. However, there are some drawbacks to it. The first and foremost one is that the baby does a number on your nipples.
Even if she doesn’t gum them, constant sucking can leave you raw and sore. The skin on your nipples can start cracking from the stress. What To Expect lists this as a pretty common problem. They suggest that you can prevent this by letting them air dry after each feeding. Applying lanolin can help with the cracking and discomfort, so you might want to pick some up on your next shopping trip.
When you get your nursing bra and pads, make sure that they won’t chafe you. The last thing you want when you have sore and cracking nipples is a scratchy bra and nursing pads that aren't absorbent enough. You can look for caps to cover your vulnerable nipples from clothes, but it is better just to get clothes that fit so well you don’t have the cloth rubbing against already sore skin.
9 The Saggy Bits
You may know that you might not instantly bounce back to your pre-pregnancy shape. According to Parents.com, your uterus won’t instantly collapse once the infant is out. It will be round, hard and weigh about 2 and a half pounds immediately after the birth. You will be able to feel it just by touching your naval. The uterus will slowly shrink down to about 2 ounces over the space of 6 weeks. This stretching will leave your stomach muscles loose and in need of recuperation.
Even if you had a really tight tummy before you were pregnant, you will find yourself sagging at the midsection. You can exercise yourself back into your old shape, but you probably should take your time there. Your stomach muscles have a gap in them from the stretching and need time to knit back together, so avoid sit-ups and crunches for the first several months after delivery.
In the meantime, you can buy clothes that fit your new figure once you have it. You might as well feel comfortable while your stomach is recovering from giving birth. Chasing a toddler and having a kid steal half your food every time you eat will hustle you into your old shape in no time.
8 The Achy Feeling Lingers
You might find yourself in pain long after you give birth. According to both Parents.com and What To Expect, it is common to be achy for weeks afterward. It is especially common to have a sore back. If you did a lot pushing during labor, you have a lot of muscles that are sore from stress just as you would from a day of hard exercising. Carting around your baby all the time will leave your back sore for months, too. You might need to pop an aspirin and soak in a warm bath to recover. If you get a chance for a good long soak, go for it.
This soreness will affect your exercise plans. You will want to ease into any routine to begin with and consult with a fitness instructor on exercises that are easy on your stomach. Yoga is a great choice, and you might want to book a class a few months after you give birth. Low-impact aerobic activities, such as walking, are good choices for you too. There are classes that specialize in postpartum exercise plans to check out if you like a class. The most important thing to remember is to go slowly and don’t exhaust yourself.
7 The Moods Get Crazy
Pregnancy has unleashed an unholy amount of hormones in your body. Your estrogen levels yo-yo and bonding hormones are flooding you. Exhaustion makes these things worse. The result is mood swings. You may find yourself flipping out about minor things and bawling over things that you would normally not care about it. According to Today's Parent, this is very common. They shouldn’t be too severe in healthy women, though.
How can you prepare beforehand? You can know what to look for in the first 3 months. Feeling a bit empty and blue for a few days is very common, affecting 1 in 7 women. The mood swings and depression can fade on its own as your hormones settle down. If it lasts for more than a couple of weeks than you might have postpartum depression. In that case, you should probably talk to a therapist.
Other than that, you can vow to go easy on yourself and enlist friends to support you. Arrange a girl’s nights and be sure to mention any concerns you have to your doctor at your postpartum checkup. The first couple of months that you have a baby are tricky even without mood swings, so by all means, get as much help as you need to make this time good for everyone.
6 The Flow Gets Erratic
The return of your period is in some ways the official end of a pregnancy. It’s how you know your eggs are back in action. But the return of your menstrual cycle can be rough and the road back can zigzag. According to BabyCenter, it starts with lochia. This is a slurry of blood, mucus and uterine tissue that gets discharged in the first few weeks after delivery. This tapers off after a while, slowly going from bright red to light pink. It comes from your uterus ejecting all the stuff it needed to support the baby while you were pregnant.
Once that is out, your uterus will return to normal. If you aren’t breastfeeding, you can start your period anywhere from a couple of days after birth to a couple of weeks. It could start as spotting or be very light, or it could be unusually heavy, with intense cramps and clots of blood.
If you are breastfeeding, the high amount of estrogen will delay your period for months on end. The cycle may take awhile to go back to your normal pattern, and in the meantime, it may be erratic. Your best bet is to stock up on pads or tampons when you can and put it where you will be able to get it. Having heavy-duty pads for the lochia may help, too.
5 Her Skin Is Not Her Own Anymore
Pregnancy might have already done a number on your skin. You might have broken out in acne and rashes. Your skin might have taken on a sheen from retained moisture. You might have developed stretch marks on your belly and dark splotches on your face. You might have developed pregnancy rosacea. Once the baby is born, these problems will fade away within a few weeks. Or at least, become less of a problem. The acne and rashes will likely clear up, but the stretch marks will only become lighter and smaller.
According to Science Direct, though, this is the not the end of the trouble your skin could be in. Your hormones are still imbalanced after giving birth, and the hormonal balance can dry up your skin, leaving it itchy and uncomfortable. You might want to stock up on moisturizing lotion.
You will also have remaining loose skin even after you lose the weight. It is stretched, so your skin might not be able to snap back. You will have to experiment with different lotions to minimize this. Or you can take the extra skin as a badge of honor that comes with experience. I consider my own speckling a sign of good times.
4 Hours And Days Just Disappear
It will take a while for you to master the basic mom skills: washing dishes with one hand free, carting things on your hip and pinning a kid while working. The first 3 months, without those skills, you won’t be able to multitask efficiently and it will make you far less productive. By the time you master the mom skills, the baby will be mobile and actively undoing anything he or she can.
Those kids can scoot very fast long before they can walk, and diapering can turn into an hour-long event. Basically, your time will be eaten up by jobs that wouldn’t take so long if no infant was involved.
My own personal experience is that infants and toddlers tack on about a half hour to any task you want to do.
Your best bet, in my experience, for actually getting things done is to keep all the basics of child care in a bag that you keep close by.
That way, you can avoid hunting for things when your kid needs something and you can deal with that quickly. The other thing that will help is to make peace with the idea of putting the kid down in a bassinet or a playpen while doing things. You are not going get anything done if you insist on Velcro-ing yourself to the kid 100% of the time.
3 That Zany Metabolism
Every mom’s metabolism has been changed a bit by being a walking incubator for 9 months. According to a Pubmed article that reviewed several epidemiological studies, the placenta produces a hormone called human placental lactogen, which makes you metabolize fatty acids faster and makes you less sensitive to insulin. All of this leads to fat collecting in your body.
This is why gestational diabetes is a thing. Pregnancy affects protein and carbohydrate metabolism, making it faster. Your oxygen goes up 20%, too. These changes in metabolism linger for a while after you give birth for at least a while.
How long these changes last will vary wildly between women and this is the reason that, while some women are snapping right back to their pre-pregnancy weight, many other women will hang onto their pounds for a while.
One thing that seems to reset your metabolism to what it was before you were pregnant is breastfeeding. At least, breastfeeding women seemed to get closer to completely returning to normal faster than women who formula fed. This was found to be true in both studies of non-human mammals and surveys of people. There isn’t much you can do about this other breastfeed at least for some time and accept the results.
2 The Relationship Will Defs Change
A lot of people that previously had learned to give you space will suddenly think you are obliged to give them access to your home once the kid is born. In-laws and parents will insinuate themselves into the house on the grounds of ‘helping’ you with the kid. None of this will be helped by the surprises in your relationship to your significant other.
According to Parents.com, it is common to discover that your child-rearing philosophies are very different and that there are physical and time constraints on your relationship that weren’t there before. Preparing for these changes is difficult because you don’t really have a way of predicting many of them.
The best that can be said is that if you have someone trying to take over your pregnancy, you will probably see that same person trying to get involved in your child-rearing. Be sure to decide on what boundaries you are comfortable with and enforce them immediately.
It is trickier with the spouse because he does have a hand in child-rearing. You will have to be prepared to compromise, talk openly as things come up, and make the effort to stay connected during these first hectic days.
1 She'll Feel All Alone
After the first couple of days, when relatives and friends swarm you so that they can ogle the baby, you might find yourself lonely. Having a baby is isolating: it leaves you at home with no one but a non-verbal infant to communicate with while the spousal unit goes to work and your friends return to their work routines.
According to Psychology Today, the combination of the stress on the marriage, the exhaustion that comes from taking care of a kid and the logistical issues of going places with a baby can lead to new moms suffering stabs of loneliness. This is unfortunate because it’s important for your mental and physical health to keep in contact with people. Loneliness increases blood pressure and stress, and you will need all your reserves for taking care of the baby.
Many new parents don’t recognize this because they weren’t expecting it, but you if you step back and don’t blame every bad feeling on hormones, you can take steps to feel less alone. You can search for parenting groups online to bond with fellow parents, set up visits with friends and talk with your spousal unit. And don’t worry: you’ll be back with friends in no time.