As I mentioned last week, I’m closing in on D-Day with just about three weeks till I give birth to my third child and the anxiety about going through labor again is kicking in. If you weren’t completely traumatized by my last post about the top 10 things nobody warned you about labor, then read on. If not, hopefully it’s not to late to consider surrogacy.
The closer I get, the more my memory comes back in healthy anxiety-producing flashbacks, but I know the crazy body changes don’t stop once the baby is out. If you’re a first time mom you may want to turn back now, but I always aim to prepare with the truth and dose it with just enough humor so that you don’t go running for the hills. So here are the top 5 hilarious and weird changes your body goes through after your baby is born.
1. Am I Bleeding To Death? – The nurses warned me about the size of the blood clots I would see when I went to the bathroom, but that still didn’t prepare me for that one massive clot that had me frantically pushing the call button, sure I was bleeding to death. I can’t speak to the C-section mamas because I never had one, but massive clots and heavy bleeding are pretty standard after giving birth. Invest in the most ginormous pads you can find, and granny panties you don’t mind throwing away if they get super gross. I snagged a few extra pairs of those mesh disposable undies from the hospital. Dermoplast spray and Tuck’s pads (witch hazel) are tremendously comforting, especially if you’ve had stitches. They also give you a squeeze bottle for warm water rinses which also helps. Be prepared for your bathroom routine to take twice as long as usual between all these different steps.
2. Sweat Much? – I don’t consider myself someone who sweats a lot, even while exercising so I was shocked to wake up days after giving birth with damp and matted hair, completely covered in sweat. Nobody ever warned me that this is how your body gets rid of a lot of the excess fluid it takes on during pregnancy. Wear some loose clothing and be prepared to change the sheets. It’s not a matter of being too hot so you just have to go along for the ride on this one.
3. Well HEEELLLOOO Dolly – I know some women would be thrilled to wake up one day with their boobs double their normal size. However, nobody quite prepares you to suddenly find yourself as busty as Dolly Parton. On about the third post-pardom day (it could be the second or fourth) your milk will come in and when it does holly crap does it come in. Your breasts will feel huge, hot, and hard as rocks. It’s not the most pleasant feeling as you can imagine, so invest in some ice packs to stuff into your bra and heavy duty nursing pads. Some women swear by putting cabbage leaves in their bras, but I just don’t know if I can get past the idea of cooking cabbage in my bra. I hate the smell of it cooking in my house let alone having it on me. But hey whatever works.
If you’re breastfeeding keep feeding your baby, but don’t worry if they stop frequently and cough or choke a little. Unlike the manufactured nipples you buy for bottles, yours only come in one flow and it’s your baby that adjusts by slowing down while eating and yes, spitting or choking a little. Don’t worry, you aren’t drowning them. The day your milk comes in you will have way more supply then your baby could possibly eat so don’t force them to drink more than they can handle. Instead pump just enough to take the edge off. But be warned, pump too thoroughly and your body will just produce more, prolonging engorgement. It’s a perfect supply and demand system. Instead try ice packs and a couple of IB profin and know that the worst of it will be over by tomorrow.
4. Cry It Out – Your baby isn’t the only one who’ll be crying when you bring him or her home. Your body is going through the process of dealing with a tremendous flood of hormones after giving birth. You may cry or feel sad for seemingly no reason. With my first child I remember having a conversation with my grandmother the day I brought her home. She asked me if I was going back to work and when I said yes she said, “Why? You wanted that baby so much.” Now I love and miss my grandmother dearly and in her defense she had no idea that I had a miscarriage before getting pregnant with my daughter and how desperate I was to get pregnant again as soon as the doctor gave us the green light.
But it was the spark that started a two week long cry fest. I would hold her in my arms and look at her little face and wonder how I could possibly hand her over to strangers at a daycare in a few short months. Because of my grandmother I hatched my job-share plan so I could work part-time and my mother could watch her. It’s an arrangement that worked brilliantly for four years before my company entered into a merger. I am so grateful to my grandmother, whose well-meaning but painful question gave me the courage and creativity to create the work/life balance I wanted and of course to my boss and family who supported me.
I can’t speak to Postpartum Depression, except to say that mood swings, sadness, and crying are normal right after birth but if you keep experiencing symptoms long after the baby arrives you should seek the advice of your doctor. It’s a real thing and there is help for it, so don’t be afraid to ask.
5. Incontinent? That Depends – Ok so I’m entitled to the occasional corny joke. I really didn’t expect this symptom after I had my first child. I think it’s because I pushed for an hour to bring her into the world, that I temporarily lost some feeling and I had no idea I had to pee until I was practically peeing my pants. It was all I could do to find a safe place to put my daughter down and run to the bathroom. The doctor assured me it was perfectly normal, but I guess this is another reason those ginormous pads come in handy and the granny panties you don’t mind tossing in the trash if need be.
And you thought it only took blood, sweat and tears to bring your baby into the world. Well, you still experience them after delivery as well. Whoever said pregnancy was a beautiful thing was never a pregnant woman. Sure the miracle of growing a baby inside you is pretty awesome, but all the weird changes that happen to your body can be pretty weird, gross, and scary. I always tell people you don’t forget how hard pregnancy and childbirth are, but you look at your child and think, “What wouldn’t I have gone through for you?” It’s a good mantra to repeat when they hit about age three and you want to tear your hair out, but that’s for another day and another post.
What was the most surprising thing your body went through after having a baby?