Giving birth can be terrifying and exhilarating, chaotic and peaceful, mundane and extraordinary. It can take hours or sometimes if you are lucky, you will reach the hospital just in time. It involves sighs of pain and relief, as well as tears of aches and happiness. It can be everything you had imagined or it can turn out to be what you have never expected. Essentially, it will be an experience of a lifetime. Although rumor has it that it is really just the preface of your motherhood story.
What comes after childbirth will be a totally different realm. I am not talking about the days when you run after your kids, talk to them about their choices, or cry (or maybe secretly smile) when they finally decide to move out. That is still too far-fetched. I am referring to the first months of recovery and figuring-things-out, which aren’t always reflective of the fairy tale we are told about motherhood.
1.You will have heavy period for 4-6 week
Postpartum bleeding, no matter how you gave birth, is quite different from regular menstruation. It will take about 4-6 weeks, which will most likely require you to wear a mommy diaper, also referred as maternity towels (Mothercare|Maternity Towels with Wings, P399) or pads. If you are not very comfortable with these towels, you can always use the regular pads and eventually switch to liners (Watsons | Veeda Natural Cotton Liners, P189.50) once the bleeding become less. Avoid using tampons as it can lead to an infection.
2.Breastfeeding might be difficult
We hear a lot about how breastfeeding is best for babies. We are told how it is a naturalway to feed, bond, and watch our babies grow. But we are not always informed about how difficult it can be—the latching issues, fussy days and evenings, supply and demand for your breast milk, among others. We might have been designedto be able to breastfeed but we are not always knowledgeable and skilled to do it. At least, not immediately after we give birth. It just doesn’t happen that way.
It will take time until we are able to resolve the latching issues, to remedy the aching breasts, and to be generally comfortable with breastfeeding. It might be difficult but it as a learning process, and we will eventually get better at it.
More on breastfeeding story here: Breastfeeding for First-Time-Moms.
3.Your breasts will be heavy, hard and itchy
As a former 32A, the journey to 3** has certainly been physically heavy! Whether you call this transformation a miracle or a curse, once you start breastfeeding, your breasts will most likely feel heavy, rock hard and at times itchy. You might also experience some rashes, flakes and chaps due to varying reasons—incorrect latching, friction caused by tight clothing including your bra, excessive sweating, etc.
There are many ways to ease these discomforts, which I shared here: Breastfriends for Breastfeeding Moms
4.You might cry- A lot!
I’m not sure whether or not it is wise to wear a warning sign of some sort to preventpeople from potentially experiencing emotional mayhem caused by a mother’s hormonal roller coaster after giving birth. But it is definitely worth a try. Because I thought I was in a constant drama.
I cried a lot!
I cried because I was scared I would not have enough milk to feed my baby.
I cried because my breasts were hurting, they even bled.
I cried because I felt like I didn’t look my best anymore, and nothing would fit me even after losing some weight.
I cried because I felt underappreciated despite having worked all day—feeding and changing the baby, cleaning the house, doing errands. The list can go on.
I cried because I didn’t know what I was doing. Am I failing at motherhood?
I cried because I didn’t understand why I was feeling sad and hurt.
I cried because I could.
If you cry or feel like crying don’t hesitate to ask for hug. Talk things out. Share your feelings. Sometimes, you just need to be reminded that you are surrounded by people who love you dearly, and who are always there for you no, matter what.
5.You might dislike people including your husband
Everyone will be excited to meet the baby—your family, friends, and even strangers who happened to take a peek at your baby’s stroller. Not many will be interested about you, not your recovery progress or the lack thereof. They will not be bothered about your increased disinterest in socializing or general dislike of people. So don’t put your hopes up.
While it is certainly heartwarming to see so many people falling in love with your little one, having to entertain visitors can get overwhelming especially during the first months. You might also have to deal with unsolicited advices and recommendations on how to do everything baby related. All of these will be considered normal but to you. If this is the case, do not feel bad about scheduling, declining and/or shortening visits. Do it for your sake, and the baby’s.
Unfortunately, your husband might not be exempted from this sudden dislike of people. For reasons that are still to be determined, your husband might become the most irritating human despite him being likened by many as an angel sent from heaven. There is no clear solution for this, except to close your eyes to seek for peace or to pray hard that you lose your ill-temperedness.
6.The brown patches might stay a bit longer
The brown patches of pigmentation on your forehead, neck, underarm, inner thighs (groin area), and genitals might linger for a wee bit. Your stretchmarks and linea nigra will also take time to fade. You can use lotions, creams and oils but they don’t get rid of them fast. If you are breastfeeding, make sure that the products you use do not contain ingredients that can harm your baby.
7.It will take time to lose weight
You don’t turn into a Baywatch babe immediately after giving birth (except if you’re Heidi Klum, but she’s exempted from our judgment because we love her).
If you scored some pretty maternity dresses, don’t lose them just yet. They might still become your go-to-comfortable-outfits for few weeks. Start working on a healthy (non-slimming) diet, and exercise as regular as possible. Remember, being a mother is not a free pass not to look your best. That’s a cliché you shouldn’t live by.
8.You might still have strong cravings and hunger pangs
When you’re breastfeeding, your body will need more energy. Therefore, it is important that you add up to 500 calories each day. This is mostly the case when you are nursing and/or expressing milk 8-12 times a day. This will change when your child is older, eating solid foods, and requiring less breastfeeding.
Perhaps, due to emotional and physical changes you go through during delivery and after child birth, you might also lose appetite. Although this is normal unless it becomes disruptive, it is important that you continue to try eating healthy foods. The small-frequent-eating formula might also be a helpful approach.
9.You might feel extra hot
Just when you think you are done with feeling hot all the time, you will soon discover that your breasts will be warm, rock hard and painful especially when it becomes heavy with milk. Shedding the gained weight adds into the equation as well. So use it as an excuse to take extra time in the shower, eat ice cream, and turn the air-conditioning on to cool. Using bras made of 100% cotton are life savers too.
10.Peeing and pooing will be scary
There are many physiological factors—stretched muscles and sore perineum among others—that can challenge your bowel movement after delivery. You can sluga gallon of water and eat papaya by the handful, but peeing and pooing will still be scary because it will be difficult and painful, until everything is back to normal. When all else fails, use stool softeners as prescribed by your doctor.
The first months after childbirth will not be easy. But once all of this is over, you will hardly remember a thing except what an incredible experience it was. It doesn’t hurt to get some encouragement from your baby’s smiles either!