Childbirth. That magical day you have planned for over nine months. All the books talk about going into labor. Your OB/GYN will talk to you about various aspects of labor. You’ll listen to or read all.the.birth.stories. You’ll hear the horror stories. You’ll hear the effortless stories of the 2 hour, 1 push labors. You’ll secretly pray that you don’t poop on table. Even though you haven’t yet experienced it, you feel as prepared as you can be. Whether it’s 2 hours or 22 hours later, you’ll finally have that bundle of joys in your arms…
And that is where all the books stop!!!
Here is my list of 7 things that I absolutely knew nothing of prior to the birth of my first child. These things are not exactly what you talk about over coffee with your BFF but you should!!
- Fundal Massage- Don’t get too excited, it’s not the kind of massage you want! As if it wasn’t fun enough suffering through those contractions, getting that 2nd degree tear sewn up sans epidural, or pushing the watermelon sized baby out of your lady hole, you now get to have your nurse massage your uterus (quite forcefully I might add) about every 15 minutes for the first hour or two after you deliver. This is considered a preventative measure for postpartum hemorrhaging. With each time they do it you will pass more afterbirth, your uterus will continue to contract, and you’re pretty much just stuck there laying in it until they’ve deemed you ok to move on to your postpartum recovery room. Yea….just let that one sit in…you’re just laying there…the whole. time.
- The Blood You’re probably thinking this one is obvious. Of course you knew there would be blood! You’ve been told by everyone about the huge diaper like maxi pads you get to wear with the mesh panties! You’ve read about lochia and how you’re going to bleed for several weeks after birth. For the record, I work in health care. I see blood all the time. It does not make me squeamish. But I was not at all prepared for the amount of blood that literally pours out of you in those first few hours after giving birth! I still quite clearly remember when I was finally able to get up and go to the bathroom and shower after giving birth to my first child. I waddled my way across the hospital room awkwardly holding the absorbent bed liner between my legs creating a trail of blood into the shower that could only resemble a scene from Psycho. I remember asking the nurse’s aid “Is this normal?!?”. She assured me it was and that it was downhill from there. For the record, I believe that there is a special place in Heaven for those nurses and nurse’s aides who take care of women after child-birth. Seriously, God bless them!
- The First Poop- I’m not talking about your baby’s first poop. Everyone tells you about that one! I’m talking about your own. If you haven’t given birth yet, they coach you to push like you’re having a bowel movement. A very large, obstructive, bowel movement. You will likely have a vaginal tear from this. There will be pain. There will be swelling. Now I believe that God had a design in mind when he created childbirth. Your body (usually) magically “shuts down” for a few days after you give birth. Common pain medications also lend to constipation. Your first bowel movement will likely not come until you’ve already been released from the hospital and are in the comfort of your own home. If you have a good OB/GYN, they will pre prescribe you Colace stool softener while you’re in the hospital. If you’re a veteran mom, you already have some on hand from your last birth. I’ll be completely honest, I was about as scared to take that first poop after giving birth as I was to actually birth my first child! I won’t lie, you’re probably going to feel like you’re going to rip open that incision too. It’s just not a pleasant feeling. BUT, if you take your stool softeners, eat a good diet and some fiber it will all come out ok (pun intended) 😉
- Hemorrhoids– Speaking of poop…have you ever had hemorrhoids? Some moms are lucky enough to have them while being pregnant during the second half. The rest of us are lucky enough to get them from the straining and pushing of child-birth. These are painful, swelling of veins in the anal canal caused by too much pressure in the pelvic/rectal area. The symptoms of hemorrhoids can include bleeding when having a bowel movement (because you aren’t already bleeding enough!), itching, and burning, Rest assured, they do get better over time but they also add to the anxiety of the postpartum poop! Stock up on Tucks Pad’s ahead of time. Use these to wipe with after you go to the bathroom, and you can also line that diaper-like maxi pad with them as well.
- That Day Your Milk Comes In- This day thankfully also comes once you’re in the privacy of your own home. When it does come, it comes with a vengeance. If you have ever wondered what you’d look like with D+ boobs, this is your chance! The problem with the day your milk comes in is that it is painful! With both my children, my boobs got so big/full that my armpits actually hurt! It was actually painful to lift my arm. While you don’t want to actually pump at this point, you can absolutely do that to relieve the pressure but if you do it too much it will actually make it worse so proceed with caution! The other problem with the day and days surrounding your milk coming in is that when your breasts are exposed to air, warm water, your baby, life, you will leak. Everywhere. Who knew so much leakage could come from one human being!?! If you’re also having some weepy “baby blues” you might find yourself simultaneously crying, leaking breast milk, and bleeding, all.at.the.same.time!! Beautiful childbirth!
- Contractions You thought those contractions ended once you had that baby right? Wrong! if you remember from all those books you read while pregnant, your uterus grew as big as that baby and reached almost to your xyphoid process. And well, it needs to go back to its original size. How does it do that? Contractions! Yes, the same ones you had in the early stages of childbirth. Don’t get me wrong, these are NOT as bad as actual labor contractions but they are noticeable, and often uncomfortable. They get worse when you breast feed. Thanks oxytocin! News flash for moms about to give birth to their second or even third child they get worse with each birth! Awesome.
- Night Sweats- Many women suffer from being hot for a majority of their pregnancy. You may feel that you are used to this by now. However, once all those wonderful pregnancy hormones start to leave your body after you have given birth you might find yourself waking up in sweat soaked sheets. For weeks! If you’re breastfeeding, this can last even longer. Thankfully, this won’t happen every night, but for me it happened several nights a week for a solid 8-ish weeks postpartum. You know, because you weren’t already sweating, bleeding, up all night nursing a newborn, you also get to wake up and change your pajamas and then wash your sheets the next day! Welcome to motherhood.
In all seriousness, childbirth is beautiful. Being a mom is beautiful. Yes, parts of it are messy, and gross, and you could absolutely do without, but it is SO worth it! These things don’t last long in the grand scheme of things, but I was definitely not prepared for any of them!