How Will You Feel After Having A Baby?
Midwives, friends, family and society in general spend a lot of time preparing us for the birth. There are books, there are classes and every single person in your life will share their birth experiences and stories. But what about afterwards? What about after you have had the baby? What then?
You Will Survive In A Hormone Fuelled Haze
Childbirth is hard, there’s no getting away from it. Even the women that claim to have had the loveliest of experiences will admit that it was bloody tiring. Before you even consider the fact that you will have pushed an actual human out of your nether regions, let’s consider the sleep deprivation. You probably haven’t slept well for, oh, I don’t know, 9 months, then it is quite possible that you have missed one if not more, entire night’s sleep during your labour. Sleep deprivation is how they torture terrorists you know and there’s a reason for that; it makes you lose your mind a little.
So when you add in the physical toll that birth takes on your body (which I can only imagine is similar to the energy expended in one of those Iron Man competitions which are several marathons and triathlons combined), you can see why you may feel a little off.
The most bizarre thing about all of this is that honestly, when I had my newborns, in spite of how stupidly tired I was, I didn’t want to go to sleep either. each time, I didn’t want to miss a second with this brand new tiny person that I made.
Going To The Loo Afterwards Is Scary
There are no two ways about it, going for a wee will hurt. It will hurt a lot. You will dread having to wee. You won’t want to drink anything that you won’t have to wee any more. This is a mistake. The best thing to do is to drink as much as possible in order to dilute the wee as much as possible. The more diluted, the less it will sting. Trust me.
Your First Number 2 will be scary, so scary that you will worry that everything down below will burst open. After popping out a baby, a poop shouldn’t really scare you, but inevitably it will. All I can say is the idea of it will be more scary than the actual event, so get it over and done with.
You Will Bleed Afterwards – A Lot
This one I discovered after having my first baby. Unfortunately, by the time I had my second baby 7 years later, I seemed to have forgotten. Suffice to say, the 1 pack of 10 maternity towels that I bought before the birth barely lasted the day. I actually bled for 4 solid weeks after that baby. I bled so much that I was bleeding through all of my clothes and onto the towels that my husband had sensibly placed over the sheets on our bed. I am not telling you this to scare you, more to prepare you, so that you can ensure you have plenty of maternity pads and spare clothes to hand.
I actually found that disposable knickers were ideal to go with your enormous maternity towels for the first couple of days. I’d suggest getting them a couple of sizes too big, you are not going to want anything too tight around your lady bits for a while.
And I might not need to tell you this, but after recently heard of a second time Mum doing this and not knowing how dangerous it is, I though that I would give it a mention;
It is not okay to use tampons after giving birth
Not only would tampons leave you open to a huge risk of infection, they probably would barely even stem the flow of the blood anyway.
The Afterpains Are Like Early Labour
They really like to keep this one quiet. After you have you baby, you might think that you are in labour again. I this day an age, it is unlikely that they have missed the fact that you were carrying twins and you are about to give birth to the second, it’s more likely to be your uterus just trying to put itself back into place. It can happen randomly or be triggered during breastfeeding. Bad news for second time mamas, with subsequent babies, the pains are a little closer to established labour.
There is good news though! All of these nasty contractions do serve a purpose, they are pulling your uterus back into place. Just remember to stock up on paracetamol and ibuprofen and keep reminding yourself that it is all happening for a reason and you will feel better soon.
Your Business End Will Be Inspected Many Times After Delivery
You know that during labour and delivery it is sort of accepted that you will be exposed from the waist down with your nether regions on display for all to see? Well, I hate to break it to you, but chances are that your midwife is going to have a good look at what is going on down there to check that you are healing properly for the first few home visits after the birth. Unpleasant as this may be, it is a necessary inconvenience. Do not be tempted to say everything is fine just because you are sore and can’t face being poked and prodded any more, make sure you get your sore bits seen. Remember ladies, there are not the parts of our bodies that we want to heal any slower than they have to.
Midwives Are Obsessed With Clots
Honestly, they’re obsessed. They want to know what you’ve passed, how frequently, colour, shape, consistency – they may even ask you to keep hold of pads or any larger clots so that they can have a good look. Gross as this may seem, it is, once more, a necessary part of your postnatal care. As you will know if you have read my Sepsis Awareness post, I passed a large, slug like “product” (that’s what they called it) around two and a half days after having my 4th baby. It turns out that this was a piece of retained placenta that had been poisoning me. I was lucky enough to get the medical attention that I needed, partly because I had been trained over having so many babies to “monitor my loss”. So humour these clot obsessed professionals, they have their reasons.
There Will Be Whole Days Where Showering Feels Like Too Much Work
It will seem like too much but you MUST make time. Even if you are so tired that you can barely open your eyes, if someone can watch the baby for you, shower and you will feel instantly more human. The combination of blood loss, sleep deprivation and baby sick will leave you feeling decidedly icky. Make time for the shower and you will suddenly feel far more like yourself.
It Will All Be Worth It
When it all comes down to it, as horrid and as hard as the recovery from birth can be, I promise you that it is worth it. Even if having a wee makes you sob a little, that tiny little bundle of perfection that you made yourself is worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears.
I asked some other fabulous Mums about the things that they wish they had known about recovering after having their babies, read on to find out what they said.
Anna – Mum of 3
I think you are so prepared for the birth (by books, tv, friends experiences, midwives so on) but nobody explains how YOU feel afterwards e.g blood loss, mastitis, afterpains.
Genna – Mum of 3 with baby number 4 on the way
I never knew about the stitches or that you would have to wee while pouring a jug of water on yourself.
I think having some info on pillows to sit on whilst you feed to take the pressure of your very sore lady parts, salt baths ect… would be great! No one told me about those things, I didn’t get any information from the nurses/midwives when leaving the hospital either!
Gemma – Mum of a little girl (age 3) with baby number 2 on the way
It’s ok to say no or delay visitors. I had sooooo many in the first month. Literally booked out am and pm everyday. I was so tired and overwhelmed by it all.
Helen – Mum of 2 boys
I definitely didn’t know enough about the post partum stuff. I thought I didn’t know because I had him 5 weeks early but I don’t think that’s the case! The only person who told me anything was my friend who told me to buy disposable undies although I wasn’t quite prepared for why (I thought I was hemorrhaging at one point!) and the stinging and the soreness!!
I had no idea I’d need to wake the baby for feeds and he slept for 14 hours straight the day he was born! He must have been starving. Oh, and the after pains! No one told me they’d be worse than contractions
I didn’t know how scary it feels bringing your newborn home- you realise you’re completely responsible to keep this tiny, vulnerable little human alive! It was a bit of a shock to the system. You think you’ll know how it feels, but it still blindsides you!
For me, I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to be up and about visiting people the first couple of weeks. I felt terrible because I just wanted to be at home with the baby and not have to smile at people. I just didn’t feel like I was given the time to recover from a life altering event and digest all the newness
That the pain when milk comes in is not going to last forever. Poor hubby took so many trips to boots to get all sort of remedies that didn’t work.
To not try and be super mum. Rest, soak up the newness and not to panic about absolutely every little thing ever. I felt anxiety stole a lot of my joy during the fourth trimester and I wish I had known everything was going to be fine so I could have focused more on the now and not the what ifs.
I wish someone had told me how bad the after pains are a few days after you give birth. They were also much worse with my second and it came as such a shock to be in so much pain whilst also trying to care for a newborn. I also wish someone had told me just how important it was to do those pelvic floor exercises the midwives tell you about before you leave the hospital lol!
To just go with the flow and do the best you can. If your baby is fed, rested, clean, loved and happy – you’re doing a great job.
I wish I’d known that we were going to be just fine. I was so anxious with my first baby, worried I wouldn’t know what to do and what he would need. It really does all come naturally. Your instincts serve you well. The anxiety with my first affected my enjoyment of having him. With my second I was so much more relaxed I was able to enjoy the little moments all the way through.
That breast feeding doesn’t always come naturally and it can be really painful for the first few weeks. Even with the second baby it can take a while to get used to it again.
That it was very important to have reliable people behind your back in times when you feel that your best isn’t enough and that these people aren’t limited to your friends and families because believe it or not you can find the best moms online too.
While super cute, newborn babies do next to nothing. It doesn’t all come natural, having a baby doesn’t make you a baby expert nor does anyone know your child like you do. It’s hard to avoid point scoring and saying “I changed the last shitty nappy” or “I got up with him last night”, you’re both exhausted and thrown into this whole new territory of having a tiny human completely reliant on you for everything. Who knew competitive tiredness was a thing!
I wish someone had told me about how much you bleed after, omg! I thought it would just be like a normal period but oh no it was like 9 months worth of periods in a very short space of time
I wish I had been warned that recovering from a forcep birth can be slow and painful. It was only after I had my second without the aid of forceps that I realised how much longer it took me to feel ‘normal’ after my first.
I wish someone would have told me, before leaving hospital, that a daily bath in lavender and tea tree oils would aid my recovery from an episiotomy and forcep birth. I was so bruised, cut and swollen down there and it was only when I posted in one of my private groups about the pain days later, that I was told how much those essential oils would help.
I think more needs to be covered on c-sections and the recovery in antenatal classes. I just went in assuming I would have a natural birth and ended up having a scary emergency c-section. I wish I’d known how debilitating the recovery was going to be. Https://
I wish someone told me just how much I was going to bleed post birth, no one tells you and it’s a shock that you’ll ruin many pairs of pj’s and underwear in the weeks after birth
To drink lots and lots of fluids after birth, it will help with that first trip to the toilet!
I wish I’d known, then maybe my stitches wouldn’t have split.
Sarah – Mum of 1
The cluster feeding! I didnt know anything about it. When Luna came home she cluster fed every night anywhere between 9pm and 4 in the morning. It was exhausting.
Tania – Mum of Ted (2)
When it comes to breastfeeding…ignore the books that say “bf shouldn’t hurt, if it does, you’re doing something wrong” I felt so guilty that I was doing something wrong but it was just my body getting used to it! And we’re still going (22 months later
Sarah – Mum of Maia (3)
I didn’t know anything about how to look after a baby when I brought Maia home. I didn’t have friends or family who had babies.
Simple things like to make a bottle, how many bottles I would need to have in stock, how to arrange her wardrobe and her toiletries etc so that I could get to things in seconds. How to swaddle her. The first few months you barely function properly so any tricks from someone experienced would’ve made that time so much easier! Even the simple things like how to tell when your babies hungry. My midwife told me when Maia was a month old that it’s when they put their fingers in their mouth otherwise I wouldn’t have known.
How was your recovery from childbirth? What came as shock to you? What do you wish that you had knows? Let me know in the comments below.
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