When you have a baby, everything changes! Physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationship-wise. Postpartum life is really amazing, and tough at the same time. Maybe you’re a new mom, or a soon-to-be mom looking for a little inside info as to what is coming your way. Brought to you by myself and some other mommy bloggers, I’ve organized this list (with my fellow blogging sisters permission and input!) to give you an idea of what’s to come. Some of these are really funny! And some are just an unfortunate reality. Read on to see what happens once you’ve had a baby!
| 1 | You Will Feel Like You Have Balls Between Your Legs
“If you’ve had a vaginal birth, it will feel like you have balls between your legs for a week. You will walk bow-legged to compensate therefore causing weird stares (insert deep man’s voice here) at your babes first doctor’s appointment.”
– Marissa Sanders @ DIYtified
| 2 |Constipation
Yes, unfortunately, this is a reality for moms whether you have a vaginal or cesarean birth. The first bowel movement is NO fun and can take DAYS. With my second cesarean, they shoved prune juice at me and told me I couldn’t leave until it happened. And then, they kept barging into the room every hour (yep, our hospital definitely didn’t have an understaffing issue!) to check on me.
It’ll happen, don’t worry. But it’s a pain in the ass. Pun intended. So, what can you do about it?
Here are some tips for preventing and easing constipation according to Babycenter:
- Don’t wait to go to the bathroom when you feel the urge to move your bowels, even though it might be uncomfortable the first few times. Waiting makes your stool drier and harder to pass.
- Eat high-fiber foods such as whole grain cereals and bread, brown rice, and beans as well as fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
- Carry a water bottle and drink plenty of water. A daily glass of fruit juice, especially prune juice, can also be helpful. Some people find that drinking warm liquid soon after waking up helps get things moving.
- Go for a walk. Walking may be painful at first, especially if you’re recovering from a c-section or an episiotomy, but even a short trip around the block can get your sluggish bowels into gear.
- Ask your healthcare provider whether you should take a stool softener or laxative, sold over the counter at any drugstore. (Stool softeners enhance water absorption in the stool, while laxatives stimulate the stool to pass.) You’ll need to start taking a stool softener right away if you have a tear that extends into or through your sphincter. Stool softeners are also helpful if you’re suffering from hemorrhoids or taking high-dose iron supplements for anemia or narcotics for pain relief.
If things don’t improve in a few days, talk with your provider. She may have additional recommendations for you to try, or she may need to do a manual disimpaction, which is a procedure to break up the hardened stool with a gloved and lubricated finger.
| 3 | Vaginal Tearing
“I was so fixated on preparing myself for birth that I was stunned when the midwife told me I had a small labial tear and she’d need to repair it with stitches. I had attended prenatal yoga, massaged myself with Weleda Perineum Massage oil and done all the squats I could muster. But when my 8lb son came out within 14 hours of starting labor, it was too fast and too furious and my body tore. I was sore from childbirth, but mostly I was itchy and uncomfortable from the stitches. I had to soak daily in epsom salts, spray myself with Dermoplast and also keep ice on it constantly! It took almost the full 6 weeks to recover down there, and honestly the scar tissue never really healed until I did Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy at 8 months postpartum.
Tearing wasn’t the most surprising thing that happened to me as a result of childbirth, it was the recovery process and the part where everyone claimed it to be “normal” to be sore for months on end. I’m so glad I sought out information on physical therapy–it totally brought me back to normal!”
-Debbie @ Merci Debbie
Here’s a really great resource for Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, if you’re interested in how it might benefit you. It might be just what you’re needing after childbirth/Cesarean. This has helped many women with common post-childbirth symptoms such as: incontinence, back, groin, hip, vulvovaginal, tailbone or pelvic floor pain; pain during sex, diminished or absent orgasm, urinary frequency, urgency, or retention (retention is difficulty starting your urine stream), constipation and difficulty evacuating your stool, and having a hard time with exercise.
| 4 | Your Body Completely Changes
“Looking at yourself in the mirror for the first time after giving birth is… traumatic, almost. With your belly sagging, breasts engorged, and bags under your eyes, it can take some getting used to. During pregnancy your body changes dramatically, but it happens gradually. When you give birth, it’s immediate.
Within a matter of hours your body completely transforms from carrying another person, to being empty and damaged. It feels like you’ve been abandoned and this is what you’re ‘left with’. It’s a lot to take in all at once. The body you spent so much time learning to love, despite all of the extra fluff and gigantic belly, is gone, replaced by a reflection you don’t recognize.
What do you do? Somehow you make it through this whirlwind of self-consciousness and uncertainty by focusing on your indescribable love for this tiny human you’ve created. That’s the best you can do. You take it day by day, because time really does heal these physical wounds. You don’t let your insecurities swallow you up and take over your life. It’s not easy, but with time you will learn to love this body that you were ‘left with’.”
– Victoria Moore @ My Momtastic Life
| 5 | You Will Become A MILK MACHINE!
“Your boobs will feel like they are going to pop right off of you. In the beginning when your nursling is constantly guzzling, your breasts are signaled to make more and more milk. But your babe’s tummy is only so big so all the extra milk continues to fill and fill and fill….”
– Marissa Sanders @ DIYtified
It’s true! And, if you’re breastfeeding/pumping your breast milk, you may go through something called engorgement. This means that your breasts become so engorged to the point it is painful, making your breasts firm and swollen. Be careful though, because prolonged and severe engorgement can result in mastitis and infection.
To treat any occurring engorgement:
- Take ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) to reduce pain and swelling.
- Encourage yourself to breastfeed more often (although it may seem difficult at first)
- Soften your breasts prior to feeding. You can achieve this by applying a warm compress to the breasts for a few minutes prior to feeding, to expressing milk from the breasts to relieve some pressure (with either your hands or a pump).
| 6 | Breastfeeding Woes & Wins…
“I’m pleased to report that at 6 months, my daughter and I are still going strong with breastfeeding, but right after her birth I feared we wouldn’t last 6 days. They sell breastfeeding as being this great natural bonding experience, but they don’t warn you that it may not come so easily for you. We fought through poor weight gain, tongue tie revisions, nipple shields, SNS systems, and supplementing with donor milk and formula. I was lucky to have a friend who pointed me towards a breastfeeding support group and an excellent IBCLC.
If you’re struggling please find a local group or find one through the La Leche League.”
– Shari @ Diary Of A SoCal Mama
According to the La Leche League website, their mission “is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.”
| 7 | Isolation
“Isolation was a challenge for me as a new mother. After the initial excitement of my newborn being born, my family visiting to check on him, I felt an unexpected level of isolation; loneliness. I was one of the first to have kids among the people I know. It felt like there weren’t many folks who understood the experience. In the middle of the night when my baby wasn’t latching well, or when I felt exhausted, no one really understood. For the first time I felt very disconnected from my friends.
Fortunately for me, I became a part of a really healthy and strong support group of new mothers and we had meet ups. Those new friendships helped me find people to share the journey with. My old friends were still my friends, but I needed a few who were in the trenches and opening myself up to new connections helped.
-Dr. Virgil MD @ The Mommy Doc
| 8 | Bye Bye, Rapunzel! Hello, Gollum… 🙁
“Remember all that thick and luxurious hair you had pre-baby? Yeah, say goodbye. You’ll lose that hair by the minute. Just imagine Gollum. Lord of the Rings, anyone?”
– Marissa Sanders @ DIYtified
According to BabyCenter, “After you give birth, your estrogen levels take a tumble and a lot more hair follicles enter the resting stage. Soon you’ll have more hair coming out in the shower or on the brush. This unusual shedding will taper off and your hair will be back to its pre-pregnancy thickness about six to 12 months after you give birth.”
However, in real life, I’ve encountered a large number of other mothers whose hair has never quite bounced back.
| 9 | You Learn To Truly Appreciate Your Body
“I never wanted children! I now have four amazing miniature whirlwinds under eight… it’s a long story. I think one of the unexpected changes I’ve experienced has been physical – I’m simply not the same size, shape or senses anymore and it’s taken me some time to come to terms with that. It’s our 20th anniversary in August, and on our 10th anniversary I wore a size 10 dress, this year it’s a size 20… I have work to do, but I’m also trying to appreciate what my body has done. I put all my baby weight on in the first 3 months and then actually lost weight, but not all my pregnancies made it to full term, so that almost 99 pounds has gone on in just eight years. I also comfort eat, and breastfed all four – so frankly I’ve been hungry a lot of the time!
Nothing can prepare you for the physical, emotional and sensory onslaught of becoming a parent, but there is a particular physical change that takes place for those who go through pregnancy and delivery that can be truly shocking to your body, you need time to recover while managing the process of taking care of a newborn and all the needs they have. I think a lot of mums get lost in those early days and it can be a while to find yourself again. I’m now taking action to look after myself better in the chaos of managing family life. I’m in a good place to move forward – I’m also learning to be happy with where I am right now.”
– Claire Lyons @ The Frugal Family
I love Claire’s honesty! I absolutely agree. I had such a difficult time recovering from my children’s births, but I can honestly agree with the wonderful writer of ‘The Frugal Family’. I have indeed learned to truly appreciate my body, and the wonders it has created and performed.
| 10 | Cesarean Moms, You’ll Need To Perfect Your Aim!
“It’s difficult to sit to pee. If you’ve had a cesarean birth, your abdominal muscles are pretty much nil for a while so sitting to pee is out of the question. Better work on your aim now while you have a chance!”
– Marissa Sanders @ DIYtified
According to Fit For Birth, in a c-section, 6-7 incisions are made throughout the process. Although the abdominal muscles themselves are not cut, the fascia which connects them is cut and this allows the doctor to pull the muscles apart in order to get to the next layer of fascia. Who knows how many extra nicks happen during c-sections and where they happen. The key is with all of the incisions/severing of the body, all of the nerves are also cut.
Separating the muscles causes nerve damage, loss of blood supply, and damage to the muscle itself. Without proper retraining of these muscles, it is extremely difficult to get access to the muscles. Without being able to access the muscles it is very difficult to tone them, leaving them flabby or pooch like tummy. With respect to all that goes into the process of a Cesarean and the recovery which follows, you can expect that Marissa’s advice above is quite accurate. At least while you’re healing, sitting down to pee can be quite difficult.
| 11 |Postpartum Depression
I haven’t personally dealt with this one, but according to the CDC statistics for 2017, 1 in 9 women do! That’s A LOT!
According to PostpartumAwareness.org, postpartum depression is the most common complication of childbirth: Mothers are often told that in order to care for their babies they must take care of themselves first, just as we are told on a plane prior to takeoff that we must put our oxygen mask on first before we put one on our child. When it comes to awareness and services for mothers with postpartum depression, though, there are very few oxygen masks. When the overhead compartment drops open, they need something more to reach for.
Read my post about Depression as a SAHM, and how I overcame it HERE.
| 12 | Incontinence
This one sucks. I know some ladies that have personally dealt with this one, and from the sounds of it – it’s no fun. I’m sure you’ve heard the joke about peeing every time you laugh after childbirth. But sometimes that lovely ‘release’ happens when you aren’t even exerting any force. It can be your bladder, or…you know. I’ve talked with one young lady who cannot hold in anything.
So sometimes, when you got to go, you GO. Right there. In the middle of Target. So, grab a box of Depends and panty liners while you’re there. Luckily, for most mama’s (at least those who actually admit they have this issue), it doesn’t last long. Maybe a few years if you’re really unlucky.
**Side note: another thing that happens after you have your baby, is that talking about POOP becomes totally normal, and in fact NECESSARY. I tried to be delicate here ^^ but if it made you cringe, don’t you worry. You’ll get over that real quick ;).
| 13 | Your relationship will be tested
Whether you are married, in a serious/committed relationship, or you are braving the waters of motherhood alone, you will be tested. And so will your partner. Taking care of a new and vulnerable little babe can be intimidating and stressful, for both you and your partner. Babies don’t always draw couples closer, and you might notice that change in the first few weeks or months home with baby. Hopefully, the experience brings you closer in the end (I don’t mean when they finally move out, but then again….haha).
Remember that your lover needs some support too!
| 14 | You Will Love Your Child
I wondered this with both of my children. Would. I. Love. Them. I cringe at the thought of that ever crossing my mind, but it is extremely strange when you think about the entire pregnancy/birthing process. I grew these little humans in my belly, and I’ve felt their hiccups and kicks. I’ve seen their cute button noses and baby bottoms on our ultrasounds. And I know this child is mine. But when they come out, they’re still a bit of a stranger. Can I love a stranger? I know I’m supposed to love them because they’re mine, but what if I don’t?
You will love your child. And that love grows stronger and stronger as time goes on. Bonding with your baby is a whole other topic, and can be extremely different for some mothers. But don’t worry about not loving the stranger in your womb. That is just a switch that turns on when you first hear them make a noise, or feel them laid up on your chest covered in ick. And they immediately love you, too.
| 15 | Your Appetite Will Increase
“You’ll eat the entire fridge. Did you know that breastfeeding burns calories? Yes, lots of them. So stock up on food because with your bowed-legs, your rock hard boobs, and your new hairstyle, the grocery store is the last place you’ll want to frequent for a while.”
– Marissa Sanders @ DIYtified
Realistically, a breastfeeding mother will need to consume an extra 500 calories per day to account for milk production (and exhaustion…I love how no one includes that little tidbit). So ideally, a non-breastfeeding woman’s calorie consumption would be about 2,000 total calories – increasing to 2,500 calories once breastfeeding. It is important to note, though, that you should NOT consume LESS than 1,500-1,800 calories per day while nursing.
I want to take a minute and say THANK YOU to my fellow blogging mama’s for their input – we have such a great community of mothers that I’ve found wonderful support from. These ladies are hardworking and dedicated to being amazing mothers, and have wonderful blogs. They did such a great job helping me with this post. Be sure to check out their blogs.
COMMENT below, tell me if there is something we missed on our list!