Giving birth for the first time is one of the most incredible experiences of your life. It’s painful, it’s scary and it’s sometimes traumatic. It’s awe inspiring. It’s humbling. It’s marvellous. It’s exhausting. You’ll find new strength you never knew you had. You’ll cry, you’ll roar and at some point you’ll laugh. It can be overwhelming and splendid at the same time.
There’ll be moments when you don’t think you can go on and in the next moment find it’s punctuated with some of the funniest moments you’ll ever encounter in your entire existence.
Simply put, it’s a watershed in your life.
It will change you both physically and mentally. Your body won’t be the same. Yet you’ll eventually come to embrace it and you’ll realise just how incredible that body truly is. For me, I felt as though I wasn’t the same person after I gave birth. I feel like I left my old self in the delivery suite and a new me has emerged over these last few months.
It can be a confusing time in your life, especially when you’re a first time mum. I’d read all the books and heard the tales from my other friends, yet I wasn’t really prepared for those first few hours and days after labour. No-one told me about the first post-labour poop! The bleeding, the stitches. The boobs ready to explode. And you know what, I wish they had. I think we focus so much on the labour itself, we sometimes forget those first few hours and days right after, when you can feel completely overwhelmed and a little scared.
So in that vein, here’s seven things new mums-to-be might want to know.
The Tea and Toast
It’s the much famed snack you’ve heard all about from other mums who’ve given birth and let me tell you, it’s everything they’ve said it is and more! Perfect triangles of crisp toast lathered in butter and jam from those dinky packs you get in a cafeteria, served with hot tea with lashings of milk and sugar! I was in heaven with its pure delicious simplicity!
The Lochia-ness Monster
The what? The Lochia ladies is what they call the bleeding you’ll have after labour. When I got pregnant I remember thinking Yippee! No period for at least nine months! Score! Then I found out that I would most likely have bleeding after labour for up to six weeks! It’s like Mother Nature realised you got off Scott free and thought ‘oh no you don’t!’ What a complete wagon! Have plenty of old fashioned pads on hand and stock up on the ones the midwives give you, as these are the best.
Not every woman has to get stitches, so you may very well not have to worry about this at all. I had 2nd degree tearing, which is a fun as it sounds, and so I had to get stitches. Getting stitched surprisingly wasn’t too bad, in fact I barely remember it because I was too busy looking at this bundle of baby in my arms. I did have the unpleasant experience of said stitches becoming infected when I got home. I won’t lie - that was horrendous. If in doubt, do not delay in getting yourself checked out by either your GP or maternity hospital.
The First Poop
It might feel like the world is literally going to fall out of your bottom, but I promise it won’t Nevertheless it can be frightening. I mean think about what your nether regions have just gone through. Hours of a baby pushing on them. The contractions, the pulling, the jostling and the stitches. So it’s only natural it’s going to feel a little weird. It might feel as if you have zero control down there. In fact, I remember I had to run to the bathroom on more than one occasion. But don’t panic. You won’t burst your stitches. The best advice I can give is to relax and do not hold things in, as haemorrhoids is not something you want to have on your plate as well.
Have a Water Bottle with A Sports Top Handy
Er… why? No I’m not suggesting you do laps of the maternity ward after you give birth, but this water bottle is vital. Peeing can be more than a bit stingy after birth. Especially if you have stitches, the entire area can be a bit raw and urine can be acidic, so use the sports top to spritz some water down below when you pee for instant relief.
Your Boobs Will Be Like Rocks
I mean actual rocks! When your milk comes in prepare for your assets to get a whole lot bigger. If for whatever reason you are not or cannot breastfeed, make sure to keep you boobs away from the hot water of the shower for example, as this will stimulate the milk production.
You Won’t Sleep
I hate to break this to you, but you just won’t sleep. I’ve blogged before about all the reasons why sleep is physically impossible during this time, regardless of what ward or room you are in. Between noise, visitors, doctors and midwives poking and prodding you, to being left alone with the baby at night time and literally being afraid to nod off because you’re a nervous first timer and you’re on high alert in case the baby cries, needs to be changed or just to check he or she is still breathing, there is no time for sleep.