If you want the real truth about after birth, and what to expect after delivery you need to read this! I tell all!
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The Truth About After Birth
After I had my first baby, I felt like there were so many things I had been kept out of the loop on from other Moms. Moms who knew what I was going to experience, but kept their mouths shut. I’m not sure why most women keep after-birth truths a secret. Maybe they think it’s a right of passage all new moms must go through, or think it’s something everyone has to learn for themselves, or that if the new mom would have wanted to know they should have asked. I asked a ton of questions during my first pregnancy, but you can only ask what you know to ask. I was still terrified of labor, even with asking all those questions, because I still felt like there was so much I didn’t know.
I’m here to dish. I’m going to give you the nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty, everything-you-want-to-know-but-don’t-want-to-know details. Everything I had no idea was coming, but that came without warning or preparation anyway, I will tell you. Maybe you know all of this already. Maybe this is too much information. Maybe you’ll feel better after reading it!
Disclaimer: This will be detailed and graphic. None of this is told to scare you, or upset you, but is told to prepare you so you can have an accurate idea of what to expect after you push that baby from your body (of have it cut-out if you have a c-section.) There will be graphic details, so you have been warned. Keep reading if you’re not freaked out yet.
THINKING ABOUT INDUCEMENT? READ MY REASONS FOR WHY YOU SHOULDN’T HERE!
Once you deliver your beautiful baby, and they place him or her on your chest, and cut the umbilical cord, you still have work to do. The placenta needs to come out. Your nurses will tell you that they will “gently massage” your belly and uterus to make sure it has detached as it’s supposed to, but it’s far from gentle. It’s rough, and a bit painful. Not nearly as bad as the pain of labor, and if you had an epidural you won’t feel it at all. Either way, you’ll need to push that placenta from your body the same way you pushed your baby out. Just know that the truth about after birth is once the baby is out, you’re not quite finished.
After Birth Contractions
I’ll never forget the moment my sister heard about after-birth contractions and flipped out. She had no idea. She assumed, like most logical adults would, that once the baby and placenta are out, that your contractions will stop. Nope. Sure, they aren’t as intense as they were while you were in labor, but they’re still there, and they’re still uncomfortable. Generally these mild contractions will occur when your baby is nursing, and they feel like heavy menstrual cramps. They should recede after a day or two, but some women have them for a few days.
All The Blood
If you had a normal pregnancy, you most likely haven’t had a menstrual cycle for nine months. Don’t worry, though, your body has been saving it up for you. Prepare to bleed heavily for a few weeks. Most women will wear a mesh diaper, or a very heavy pad for the first day or so, since the bleeding is so heavy. This is normal, and your first right of passage as a mother. Be prepared to do many more humiliating things in your lifetime as a mother. I remember with my first baby (I had a home birth), people wanted to come over the day after the baby was born. I was wearing a pair of loose-fit exercise pants, and I recall asking my husband, “Can you tell I’m wearing a diaper under these pants?” Yes. Those words came out of my mouth to my husband. The husband I won’t even fart in front of. He still loves me, though, so we’re good.
Using The Bathroom
Bordering on the most important truth about after birth is information regarding using the bathroom. I had no idea, or at least didn’t think about, the implications of using the restroom after birth. They gave me this cute little squirt bottle, called a peri-bottle and told me to use it when I urinated. Umm…okay. Yep. Use it. You will regret every second that you don’t. Your urine will burn you like the fire of a thousand hot fires. Unfortunately there is no bottle to help with bowel movements. You will have to endure that torture all alone with no bottle to save you. I was absolutely positive that I was going to blow out my stiches (from where my tiny baby tore me upon exit) the first time I had a bowel movement after birth. I didn’t, and I lived to tell the tale, so you too should be fine. If your doctor suggests stool softeners, or even if they don’t, take them. Just take them and thank me later.
I breastfed both of my children (one longer than the other) and loved that I chose that for them. There are many moms who cannot or choose not to breastfeed, but that’s a whole other topic for a whole different day. You can read every book ever written on how to breastfeed, but when they lay that squirmy, slimy, crying newborn on your chest, and encourage you to let him or her latch on to your breast, you are going to have zero idea of how to be able to do that. Babies generally know what to do, and you will have seventeen hands grabbing your breast and body to help the baby, even if you don’t ask. Breastfeeding can be tough for the first couple of weeks. Generally after that, it falls into a pretty routine thing. If you want to be prepared, get this class. It’s amazing, and you can watch the videos whenever. Answers a ton of questions!
READ MY TELL-ALL COLD HARD TRUTH ABOUT BREASTFEEDING HERE!
Always, even after your very first feeding, always use the nipple cream. Even if you don’t think you need it, you do. Otherwise in two days, your nipples will be raw and bleeding. Heck, they may still be raw and bleeding, but imagine how much worse it would have been if you hadn’t have used the cream! Also, nursing pads – get them. Always wear them in your bra. I had no idea how juch these were going to be necessary, until we were in Walmart, and my breasts just started leaking for the world to see. Save yourself, wear nursing pads. Also, if you try to nurse your baby on one side, and don’t have a nursing pad on the other side, you will leak yourself into a pool of your own milk. Maybe not in the first week, but definitely by week two once your milk comes in.
Newborns struggle with sleep and random cries enough as it is. When you first start breastfeeding, while your infant is still getting used to digesting actual food, watch what you eat. So many moms will tell you it doesn’t matter, but it does. Another truth about after birth is that you need to avoid foods that are known to be gassy, and then after a few weeks, slowly add them back to your diet, one at a time, to see how your baby responds. Foods to avoid for the first few weeks to make things a little easier are: caffeine, onions, broccoli, eggs, beans, and bananas. Even if these foods haven’t given you gas in the past, they may cause your baby discomfort.
Hormone Level Changes and Depression
The truth about after birth isn’t always physical. After you have your baby, you will be exhausted for several weeks at minimum. Even if your baby is a great sleeper, your body just isn’t used to waking up multiple times a night for feedings, changes, etc, so you will be tired. On top of being exhausted, your hormone levels will be changing drastically. Add all of this together, and you will be a tired, sobbing, hormonal mess, and you may even struggle with a bout of Post-Partum Depression (PPD). If this happens to you, and you feel so tired and overwhelmed that all you want to do is cry and sleep (maybe even simultaneously) know that you’re not alone. Many women, including myself, go through this, and there’s no shame in it. Ask for help. If you don’t have any family members that can aid you in your first few weeks, reach out to your church or community for support. It doesn’t make you weak, or less of a mom, to admit you need help and that you’re overwhelmed. If I wouldn’t have had my Mom with BOTH of my girls, I don’t know what I would have done. She even came and stayed nights with me when my second was born to offer support, and I will forever be eternally grateful for that! Sometimes just having someone else there makes a world of difference. Motherhood can be lonely, but don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you are a soon-to-be first time Mama, congratulations! I hope this post about the truth about after birth from a realist didn’t scare you off, but educated you on the things that your body will go through and experience following the birth of your baby. If you are an experienced Mom, let me know if I missed an important truth about after birth you’d like to share in the comments! Share this post with a mom-to-be so they can be prepared. Sometimes there’s fear in not knowing, but there doesn’t have to be!