During pregnancy you’re so focused on giving birth and having a newborn. You make a birth plan, you decorate the nursery, you have a baby shower. Your house is inundated with tiny things and new equipment. You are prepared!
But then you have the baby and holy shit!! WTF is happening to me? So here’s a little information on what you can expect once you’ve had your baby. Hopefully it will reassure you that you’re not dying and you can file it in the ‘things people don’t tell you about having a baby’ part of your brain.
- You Might feel like you’re going to pass out when your milk comes in.
My milk came in quickly – especially considering I’d had a C Section. I remember it vividly. It was a Saturday night and all the Lactation Consultants had gone home for the night. It was about midnight and the baby had been slumbering peacefully on my chest. A nurse came to do his hearing test and I took the opportunity to use the restroom. A few seconds after I stood up I experienced the mother of all head rushes and was close to passing out. I got myself to the toilet and just sat there sweating. It felt like all the blood in my body had gone to my breasts. They were suddenly ENORMOUS!! Yup, my milk had come in and I felt elated and awful at the same time. Luckily the fever and lightheadedness only lasted an hour or two but it was freaky as I had no idea what was happening to me.
- You’ve never known thirst until now!
If you’re breastfeeding then you’re in for a treat. Every time your baby latches on it will feel as though the Sahara desert just took up residence in your mouth. You will feel like a raisin – devoid of moisture. Your arm will reach out in desperation for a water bottle. The relief brought from drinking is as close to an orgasm as you’ll want to get at this moment in your life! I highly recommend putting electrolytes in your water to give you a little extra burst of energy as it can be exhausting. The sensation lessens eventually but it takes a long time.
- Lets talk hunger
Ever heard the expression “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse”? I’m pretty sure that was coined by a breastfeeding Mother. In those first few weeks you may well experience a hunger like no other. I personally had no stop light. My Mother would cook a Sunday roast and I would go back for seconds, thirds and I’m embarrassed to say fourth’s too. I simply could not satisfy my appetite. That’s the real reason they tell new mothers to keep snacks nearby. Truth is that a snack won’t be enough so make sure you keep about 5 nearby.
- Night Sweats
My son was born during the summer and we bed shared so for the first day or two I thought that his little body combined with the warm nights was the cause for my nightly sweats. It wasn’t until my friend asked me if I’d had the sweats that I discovered that this was all part of the joys of Motherhood! And then they really intensified! I would wake up and feel like all of the water I’d been frantically hydrating with throughout the day was leaving my body in one huge exodus. I tried sleeping on a towel but it’s uncomfortable and it felt even worse than sheets once the sweats hit. It doesn’t last too long – maybe a couple of weeks and is your bodies way of getting rid of all that excess fluid that built up during your pregnancy!
- Am I going bald?
It wasn’t until my hair started falling out that I realized that I hadn’t had to pull hair out of the plug once during my pregnancy. A few months after having my son I seemed to be doing it after every shower. During pregnancy your hair often stops doing its natural shedding which is why a lot of women have really great pregnancy hair. I was one of those! After my body regulated I started losing it like a normal person – well, a bit more intensely than a normal person but a lot of my friends felt sure that they were going bald! Don’t worry, you are not going bald – you’re just getting back to normal!
- Poops, Poops, Poops
Your first poop after having a baby will be a terrifying and glorious thing. Some hospitals like you to have a bowel movement before they’ll let you go home. Others will just ask that you let them know if you don’t have one within a certain time frame. You’ll take stool softeners and I recommend you keep taking them until things get back to normal in that department. You think it’s over once you’ve had that first poop? Wrong! My first poop took about 4 days and I naively felt relief. It took another 5 days before the second one arrived and of course it happened whilst I was breastfeeding. At that stage you don’t want to disturb the latch! Picture me, baby on a my breast friend pillow trying to take care of myself one handed! (actually please don’t picture that!) After a couple of weeks everything normalized and I became less obsessed with my bowels!
A lot of women are going to be given a wild ride with the hormones, crying at commercials, flowers, not being able to find the remote etc. Thankfully the pregnancy hormones had zero effect on me. I often wonder if that’s due to my having gotten used to excessive hormones during my many IVF treatments. Maybe it was just because I was so blissfully happy that my child was finally here that nothing could burst my bubble? Maybe it was due to my getting great sleep which, lets face it, is highly unusual for the mother of a breastfeeding newborn!! For sure I was one of the lucky ones. I had a lot of support from my hospital, multiple nurse visits and a doula visit and they would all remark on how chilled out I was for a new Mother. Had they met me a year before they would not have made those same comments. I was not mentally chilled when facing infertility no matter how I seemed to the outside world.
So ladies, rest assured that you are normal! Birth is not the end of pregnancy. The 4th trimester is real. Go easy on yourself but also keep an eye on yourself and if something doesn’t seem right always call your doctor.