We spend so much time preparing for pregnancy and birth, but once that’s all done, then what?
So much happens to our bodies during pregnancy and labour/delivery and once it’s all over, we’re left with a bit of a mess, to be honest. The baby room’s all ready, you’ve had your baby bag for the hospital packed for weeks and you’ve stocked up on nappies and bum cream, but there is so much more that YOU need to be able to get through the few weird weeks after birth.
If you’re squeamish, stop reading here because I’m about to get all kinds of weird real with you.
I went through the natural birth process and then ended up having to have a C-Section as we started the pushing phase, so my experience is a bit of both kinds of birth and post-birth happenings.
Here’s my experience of what you can expect postpartum. It’s not meant to freak you out, but rather to help you make sure that you’re prepared for the looking after that you need after birth, so that you can enjoy your new baby without having to worry about how the hell you’re going to ask the next visitor to bring you more maxi pads.
I’m not sure if it was from the painkillers and anti-inflammatories or from the breastfeeding, but the thirst was insatiable. You know the kind where water just won’t cut it after a while? Take some juice boxes with you to hospital and ask visitors to bring some for you too, it’s necessary!
I did not expect to bleed so much, to be honest. I bought 2 packs of hideous maternity pads thinking they were enough. They were not. Buy all the maxi pads in the world – you will be bleeding for a long time (some women up to 6 weeks) after birth, regardless of what kind of birth you had. Be careful when you get up for the first time and have someone help you – you’re likely to feel quite faint and lose a lot of blood in that one movement, which can be quite scary.
The baby blues
You might not feel the immediate overwhelming motherly love for the strange little screaming creature in your arms immediately. You’ve been through a lot physically and emotionally and your hormones are completely out of whack for a while. You may have a few days of feeling down instead of elated, this is okay. If it continues, it may be signs of postnatal depression so check up on those symptoms to be sure you don’t need treatment for that.
The night sweats
This took me completely by surprise. For some women postpartum, their bodies need to get rid of excess fluids and hormones for quite a while after birth and this results in night sweats. I would wake up for feeds in the middle of the night, freezing cold and soaking wet. Have a few pairs of extra pyjamas (that are feeding-friendly) on hand unless you want to be washing them every day.
Your breast milk doesn’t appear immediately. For the first few days you produce colostrum, which is sufficient to feed your baby initially, but he may get hungry and scream for real milk at some point. It’s just a waiting game then to see when your milk comes in.
Well this is awkward. If you didn’t get haemorrhoids during pregnancy, you’re likely to get one or few during childbirth. This, along with constipation makes for a very uncomfortable “glowing” new mom. Do yourself a favour and make sure you have haemorrhoid cream and stool softeners ready and waiting. It’s hectic.
They will hurt. Stock up on nipple cream from the get-go and apply that stuff all the time. It will save you. Don’t bother with anything other than Lansinoh cream. Also make sure you stock up on breast pads – there will be leaking and you don’t want to worry about that when you’re dealing with a hundred other things.
Oh gosh, I haven’t painted a very pretty picture, have I? The first few weeks after birth are hectic, so at least after reading this you are prepared for all these nasties and can just take them in your stride. This is the time we need to be enjoying our teeny tiny little humans while we can – they are so precious!