#TuesdayTruth: Things I wish someone had told me about "after delivery" and life as a new mom.

I was recently in the office break room with a colleague of mine and the subject of nursing came up. We discussed how shocked we were that it wasn’t as “easy” and “common sense” as the world would have you believe. My colleague talked about being so discouraged after the birth of her first baby and wishing that another mother had been upfront and honest about what to expect so that she would not have felt like she was failing:l. I understood completely and remembered my first time as a mom with Bug, but even the times post delivery of all my kids. There are certainly some things I would have wanted to know prior.

After our conversation was over, I thought about several expecting mothers that I know and how I wished I had the kind of relationship with them that would allow me to share what a I wished someone would have shared with me.

I figured I would do that here and maybe help someone (including them).


1.  Your first BM after you give birth can often be as challenging as birth itself.

When I first had Bug almost 14 years ago, labor took a little less than 12 hours. Here was this perfect little person and I was so amazed that I was taking him home 48 hours later. The nurses told me I could leave after I passed gas. I kind of giggled at that, but did so on the second day and they were satisfied. I didn’t have to poop while at the hospital so they told me I’d probably go within a day or so of being home.

What they did NOT tell me was that first BM would be very uncomfortable. In hindsight, I really should have thought about it. You’re using the same muscles for bearing down and pushing as you do for a BM. Then you’re pushing this massive being from your body. It’s safe to say you’re going to put your body through some trauma.

Guys, I walked around my toilet for two hours before I had the nerve to actually poop. It took another three hours for my body to remember how to coordinate to get the movement out. I didn’t know the use of stool softeners was HIGHLY recommended though I’d been given one dose before leaving the hospital. Having that movement was hard, scary, and intimidating. No one told me I would be praying that my body functioned properly. No one told me of the anxiety. As I told my cousin, I would have rather gone through birth again than that first movement.

Please note that subsequent children have been better. I always take the one dose softener the hospital offers and follow up with one of my own the next day. I drink plenty of water and my body seems to adjust better. I just wish someone had told me to do that.

2.  Breastfeeding will hurt until your nipples are used to this task.

After my children were born, they all latched like champs. I was so happy. I’d read all the “Breast is best” material and was overjoyed at providing for my babies. What wasn’t shared initially is the babies weren’t getting milk but colostrum (the golden nutrient fueled welcome to the world milk). Your milk won’t come in until about 48 hours later (at least mine doesn’t).

Your baby is going to stay attached forever and you’ll be thinking how great a job of supplying them you are doing. You are. But after a while, all that pulling and suckling of your nipple is going to hurt.

Don’t buy into the hype about “if you’re latched correctly, it won’t hurt”. My nursers latched correctly as confirmed by the lactation consultants, but it will realistically take about two weeks before your nipples and you are used to breastfeeding.

3.  Blood blisters on your nipples are real.

The first time I experienced a blood blister from the cracked nipples, I was shocked. No one told me about this. I researched and talked to my mom friends who all nodded sympathetically. They told me of compresses and creams and techniques to help reduce them, but were honest. They reiterated that I would need to hang in there for a hard two weeks. But I had to ask to get this info.

4Your baby will lose a couple of ounces before leaving the hospital.
I was so upset when I found out my first had lost three ounces. I felt like I’d failed him and “wasn’t producing enough”. Later, my ob/Gyn and the baby’s pediatrician told me that it was normal for newborns to lose a couple of pounds in the hospital but should pick the weight back up by the follow-up appointment.

5. There is a possibility that you will feel post epidural site pain. 

For weeks after the birth of Bug and little A, I would feel a dull ache where the needle had been inserted. It was jarring but nothing serious. Now, 14 years after my first, I still sometimes feel this ghost pain.  It's odd.  I can be driving and there's a tingling, a little shock and I realize my site of application is being bothered.

6.  The huge menstrual diapers and disposable guaze underwear are your friends. You haven't had a cycle in nine months.  Nourishing blood and nutrients fed that placenta, made sure the baby was well.  But it's job is complete and now it's time to relinquish alllll of that blood.  Be ready for the period of all periods.  I didn't cramp too much, but I bled normally.  If you're passing fist sized clots, go to the hospital!!

7. Postpartum depression "baby blues" is real and can hit you hard.  This little bundle of joy just arrived.  You're supposed to be happy except you're not.  You're crying.  You are worried about being a failure.  Nothing you do seems right.  Be careful.  You may be suffering from PPD.

8.  It's okay to ask for help.  With my latter children, it was assumed that because I had a husband, I had a ready made helper.  That wasn't really the case.  He still had to work and leave the house at crack of dawn in the morning.  That meant I was the one who got up with the babies most evenings.   I also took care of cooking and making sure the kids had whatever they needed for school.  Because I didn't say anything about feeling worn down, it was just assumed that I had it.  I finally spoke up and said I need assistance with various things.  What worked well for me was delegating specific tasks that gave me room to do other things.  I asked for help in preparing bottles (if I wasn't pumping), for someone to gather diapers (if I was running low on them in my station), for assistance with food items.  It took a while, but I definitely am glad I finally said "Hey...I need help".

That's my list!  There are plenty more that I can think of, but these were the most pressing.  Do you have any others on your list?

-K

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