6 Things nobody tells you that happen to your body after the baby is born.

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.

  1. You Might feel like you’re going to pass out when your milk comes in.
    sculpture-naked-bosom-breasts-38444

    Help! My milk just came 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.

  2. 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.
  3. Lets talk hunger
    dinner for one

    This may have satisfied my hunger. Maybe


    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.

  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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.

 

A Breastfeeding Story.

Firstly let me start by saying that I believe that ‘Fed is Best’.  I feel that there is an inordinate amount of pressure on women to breastfeed.  I also believe that women are set up to fail.  We are scared that it’s not going to work before we have even given birth.  We are filled with stories of engorgement, thrush, tongue/lip ties etc.  A great disservice is being done.  Women need to be lifted up and supported (no pun intended!) We need to step back and tell ourselves that if we want to do it, then we can and if it doesn’t work out then we need to create a culture where we allow one another to walk away without guilt.

End of PSA.

Here is my story:

The best piece of advice I received while doing my hospital tour was this:

“Do whatever you can to avoid having visitors in the hospital.  Put off family and friends until you get home.  Focus on learning how to feed your baby and getting to know your baby without the constant interruption of people coming in and out of your room.  If you must have visitors set a 15 minute limit on them before they arrive.”

161020 Tania & Xenon Panasewicz

My Ride or Die

I remember thinking to myself how this nurse should perhaps mind her own business a little.  I thought she was too harsh and jaded or maybe just sick of people coming in and out of a ward that has 24 hour visiting allowed?

Some part of what she said must have had an effect on me however.  I decided that I wouldn’t tell anyone that the baby had arrived until 24 hours after his birth so that I could evaluate how I was feeling.   I also figured that as a single woman whose mother was going to be at the birth, it would be easy to not have visitors.

Fast forward to the day my son was born. I was in a euphoric blur after his first feed, my boobs were clearly going to be out all day and I was so grateful that nobody knew that my son had arrived.

Breastfeeding as a first time mother is no joke.  I say this as a person who had an incredibly easy, painless breastfeeding journey.  Even so, for the first 48 hours I was constantly wondering “how is a person supposed to achieve all this with just one set of hands?”

For the first 48 hours I had to enlist the help of a lactation consultant every.single.time my son wanted to feed.  C Section had rendered me incapable of shifting myself into position, rearranging my pillows and holding a baby at the same time.  Then working out how to hold his head and my boob simultaneously was it’s own special conundrum.  Don’t even talk to me about hand expressing!  I would try for a minute then just hit the buzzer and some wonder woman would come in and position him, squeeze my boob a little and away he would go.

Lactation consultants are amazing but they all have slightly different ways of doing things.  They have their ‘holds’ that they think are the easiest and I found that they were constantly putting my son in positions that felt unnatural to me.  I didn’t want to hold my baby like a football!! I wanted to cradle him and I made that clear.  Luckily I had a little confidence thanks to a book that a friend had given me – making me promise I would read it before giving birth.  I’m going to do the same for you…

161020 Tania & Xenon Panasewicz

2 months old – his 2nd photoshoot.

If you are thinking of breastfeeding, I cannot recommend the book “Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy – A Photographic Guide for Mom and Those who Help Her” by Laura Keegan enough.  It’s mainly pictures with just a little text.  It gave me the confidence I needed to cancel out the worries I had about failing!  Just remember – Open Wide and Nipple to Nose.  The other great advice I was given was to use Earth Mama Organics nipple butter. I used it religiously and never had a chapped nipple… perhaps coincidence but maybe not.

2 days after his birth my sons little mouth started rooting.  I got him in position like I had every time before and this time, instead of having to hit the button for help, he latched on like a champ all by himself!!!  Oh my goodness, the elation I felt!

We were going to be able to master this.  We felt like an unstoppable team and I never looked back.

I was so grateful that I had followed the advice of that nurse and kept my room free from people.  The only exceptions had been a fifteen minute visit from my Grandfather (right after a feed!) and another short visit from a friend whose baby I had been the first person after her husband to hold. I also didn’t mind this friend seeing my giant exposed breasts!  It was just my Mother for much of the time, my newborn and me.

By the time I took my son home 2 days later we were like old pros at the nursing game.  I no longer needed my breasts to be constantly on display.  It still took a few attempts to latch him on but it no longer worried me, I knew we would get there.

20 months later and he is still going strong.  A milk fiend.  If you had told me that I would be nursing a toddler, I’d have laughed at you.  I used to say that if my child could pull at my top and ask for milk then that meant it was time to stop.  Well, my son can do both of those things now and I have no intentions of stopping until he is ready (Or I am done.)  I think I’m addicted to the endorphins (so long as they aren’t happening at 3am).  This child may well be my only child so it will be a bittersweet day that he no longer needs the comfort that he gets at my breast.  I’ll be grateful that he is grown and becoming more independent but I will dearly cherish the memories of the baby he was.

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