5 Things You Didn't Expect After Having a Baby
You’ve done the research. You know what stage your baby is at and what your body is doing…you know how to give birth; you have a doula and a rock-solid birth plan. You even know what you’re going to name your baby, including her nicknames. That’s awesome! But do you know what’s going to happen to your body after your bundle of joy is born?
Ahhhhh girl….this is the least talked about part of pregnancy. It’s messy, it’s painful and it’s emotional. This isn’t the stuff that we’re talking to our girlfriends about, and many of us don’t even talk to our mothers about it. You're definitely not going to scroll through Instagram and find this. But as a L&D nurse, a doula, a Lamaze educator and a mom who's given birth 4 times, I'm gonna give it to you straight.
The BLEEDING. Ugh. It’s like your period on steroids…the first few days are the heaviest with clots and all! The best part is it doesn’t matter if you had a vaginal or cesarean birth, you are going to bleed until you think your body can’t bleed anymore. Sometimes, when you stand up in the first hours or days after delivering your vagina will just spontaneously drain blood while you walk to the bathroom. This is why a lot of postpartum women are on a first-name basis with the hospital cleaning staff- I'll never forget the day I stood up after my second baby to give my (conservative) dad a hug and I literally flooded his shoes. I will never forget the look on his (very pale) face as he pointed to the pool of blood under us. Take my advice here; leave your thong panties at home and buy the thickest, hugest pads you can find!
That TUMMY. Most women look like they're still 6 months pregnant for the first 3-6 weeks postpartum. It’s disheartening when you go to the hospital to have your baby and you pack your skinny jeans to go home in, but when you squeeze into them you just look like an exhausted version of the Michelin Man. Don’t do it. Don’t pack the skinny jeans. Opt for a pair of old track pants or yoga pants that you don’t care about, because you’re going to bleed all over them anyhow. May as well be comfy while you do it.
Your BREASTS take on a life of their own. They’ll do things that you didn’t even know was possible! Whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you are going to wake up on the fourth day after birth and have HUGE, HARD, LEAKING, VEINY boobs. These are going to require your immediate attention, whether you like it or not. After our third baby was born and we were finally home from the hospital, I remember waking up sobbing because my boobs had turned into rocks. My poor husband was driving around town at midnight trying to buy an electric breast pump so I could get some relief because my third baby was a breastfeeding dud. She was cute, but she sucked at sucking. The secret to relief is to get your baby/ husband/ neighbor /you won’t care who to empty those hard bags of milk as fast as possible. I wish I'd known about this handy post about using cabbage leaves for relief, whether you’re breastfeeding or not.
Your VAGINA. Ahhhh, your love tunnel is not so lovely right after you have a baby. No matter how you gave birth your vagina is going to be working hard for a few weeks. If you had a vaginal birth, there's a good chance that you'll have some stitches down there. And stitches down there SUCK. They tell you to keep them clean and dry but how is that even possible when you're bleeding like a free flowing river? All I can say is that a sitz bath is your superstar bestie after you’ve had a baby. The squirt bottle is like Gayle, but the sitz bath is Oprah. If you have a caesarean, you'll have different stitches or staples to deal with. Keep your incision clean and dry by washing with a clean cloth and using a hair dryer on the LOW heat setting. No matter what kind of stitches you have they should never smell funky, ooze or get really red. If they do, you may have an infection so see your doctor.
Your EMOTIONS after you have a baby are like a Canadian summer- unpredictable, at best. It may feel like your body has been taken over by a case of the crazies around postpartum day 3. Almost 80 percent of women experience some really wonky emotions after having a baby so you will be in good company when it happens to you. If it lasts longer than a week, if you feel like harming yourself or your baby, or if a member of your closest inner circle is concerned about your behavior, go and see your doctor. If you’re not sure whether you need to see your doctor, download this free, 10-question postpartum depression test. Crazy emotions after having a baby are not your fault. Your hormones take a serious nosedive after childbirth and lots of women need some help while they even out again. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
Surpise Bonus! SWELLING...if you had swelling in your hands, arms, legs or feet while you were pregnant, don't expect it to go away right after you give birth. Especially if you have an epidural or a caesarean birth- the IV fluids that are given in labour often make swelling worse. It can take a couple of weeks for all of that to subside, so make sure you take your flip flops to the hospital!
Girl, birth is beautiful no matter how it happens but the postpartum period can be ugly. Be kind and gentle to yourself while you heal. Craving more conversation about what to expect after your baby is born? Join us over at Mamasoup.
Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!