As a first time prospective mother, it is really hard to truly understand what it will really be like once you give birth. Many fellow mothers will share the beauty and love that birth and babies bring but may not really share the stuff that is not as pretty.
1. Pad it baby
As much as it has been nice not to have to deal with a period or cramping while you are pregnant you will without a doubt have a heavy period once the baby is born. It can last from 3 to 6 weeks or so after you give birth. Do not assume you can get away with heavy duty tampons. (Not recommended due to possible introduction to bacteria in the body). Instead you can do a few things, you can use super heavy duty period pads which you may need to layer, incontinence pads or infant diapers. Yep, no joke
2. That beautiful belly
Mentally prepare yourself that it takes time for the uterus to contract and the belly swelling to go down. Bring appropriate clothing to the hospital that are loose fitting and comfortable because you are not going home in those jeans that you wore before you got pregnant in.
3. Sitting pretty
It can be no fun using the bathroom or sitting in those first few days after vaginal birth. It might be helpful to have a squirt bottle with cool water to use during the bathroom trips, a pillow for chairs or some nice frozen veggies in a bag to sit on once in a while. Also treat yourself to a soak in a warm bath to relax your muscles and sooth your kitty.
4. Feeling blue
Birth is extremely emotional. You just spent 9 months carrying this baby and now all of a sudden they have arrived. Don´t be surprised if you feel a little sad, lost or emotional about not having that familiar kicking in your womb or the belly you have grown so used to. That is natural and all part of the process. Allow yourself to grieve the belly, embrace the fear of being a new parent and experience the intense feelings you feel when you see your new baby. Just remember everyone feels different. Not everyone feels great or this insane feeling of love when their baby is born. Just remember to reach out and share how you feel with those you love.
5. Embrace the pain
Yes there will be pain and sometimes lots of it. Don´t worry, it is not forever though it may seem like it at the time. Just try to embrace it. It means that your body is working hard to contract the uterus and shrink it back to its normal size after birth. It can range from mild cramps to what the $%&/() but in the end it is worth it and it will go away.
6. Be one with exhaustion
Having a baby and taking care of it, your emotions and dealing with your postpartum body and family is exhausting. You will be tired all the time so take every moment of rest that you can. When that little angel closes its eyes dive to the softest place available, close your eyes and get some zz´s.
7. Just stick with it
No one tells you that it is going to hurt like the dickens when that sweet little baby latches on and nurses for those first few months but let me tell you IT DOES. There can be a few reasons why it hurts, it can be one, two or three in combination but don´t fret it will all go away before you know it. The first one is a bad latch. If your baby does not latch the proper way it can be really painful so have a someone help you to latch until you get the hang of it. The next is that when the baby latches it signals your milk to come in creating a cramping feeling in the breasts and the third is that when you nurse the sucking motion triggers your uterus to contract causing cramping. Sounds great doesn´t it.
8. Be your breasts best friend
Those babies are going to swell and be sore once your milk comes in, there is no way of getting around that but you can make things just a little bit easier. You can use a warm washcloth compress on the breast, have a hot shower letting the water hit the breasts or pump a little so they are not so engorged. You can make sure to nurse on alternating breasts each time you feeding your baby, and you can make sure to empty the first breast and then offer the other to relieve the pressure there as well. By doing this you will be more symetrical, less engorged and will keep your milk supply even and ample throughout. *Have a bottle handy and place it under the breast you are not feeding with to catch the milk that may leak out.
9. Ex leak me
Be prepared for unwanted leakage of milk at the most inconvenient times. Have some nipple pads, or some type of padding or absorbent cloth in your braw so that you can avoid having a wet shirt. I used cloth diapers at first while it was very heavy but to each his own.
10. I´m Hangry
Remember you are now a milk producing machine and machines need fuel. You will need to make sure you are eating healthy nutritious food to fuel that amazing body of yours so that your baby gets the nutrition it needs. Here is a quick tip, if you eat certain foods and the baby is fussy after the feed don´t eat those foods, your baby does not like them. Sorry mama them´s the breaks.
So there you have it, the truth and nothing but the truth. Some woman don´t experience much of anything and bounce back like the energizer bunny fresher after birth than ever before but in my experience that is not the norm.
Just remember everything happening is helping you to get to where you want to go which is forward. You made it this far and you can make it past this postpartum period to.