This post won’t be for the faint at heart. Or for people who don’t like hearing (or talking) about bodily fluids, pregnancy and childbirth. If that’s you, I warned you.
If that’s not you, and you have a curious and open mind to the best mama advice I’ve got, I hope you enjoy the next 4 minutes of your life as you read over this list. And maybe share it with a friend who needs it. Lord knows I wish somebody had told me all this stuff.
Secret # 1:
Your blood pressure will drop significantly after the baby is born and YOU WILL BE FREEZING COLD. I recall being in a hoodie and sweatpants underneath 2 blankets in July, sitting in our leather recliner with my 4 day old baby. It was super strange.
Secret # 2:
If you have a C-section, it’s totally normal to pass a blood clot the size of a cantaloupe. I literally pulled the emergency cord in the hospital bathroom because I thought my liver fell into the toilet. When the nurse came running in to see if I was dying, she explained all this with that “Bless your heart” look about her. I didn’t find it very funny at the time, but will admit I felt much better after freeing this mass of dried blood from my body. Not to mention, several of my husbands MALE coworkers were in the hospital room and heard the whole thing happen. Kind of them to show up with Chick-Fil-A? Yes. Would I have preferred to experience that alone? Most definitely.
Secret # 3:
Breastfeeding is REALLY hard in the early days. But it gets easier after 2 weeks. The desire to throw in the towel will come early on, but if you set small goals to just make it through one feeding at a time, before you know it you’ll be on your way to painless, beautifully enjoyable and bonding nursing sessions with your tiny human. Lean on your support (by support I mean, all those friends you have that have done it before, ask them. Women who breastfed their babies usually LOVE to talk about their experience and will help you in a skinny minute). Have tons of grace with yourself. If the lactation consultant tells you to try a different position, trust them. If they suggest you try the nipple shield, try it. If your nipple looks like a tube of lipstick when the baby stops drinking, you’re doing it wrong and they can help with that. Trust me, it hurts like hell to keep letting them make lipstick nipples out of you.
Secret # 4:
Postpartum depression is NO JOKE. Be vigilant about noticing changes in your emotions and make sure your partner is aware enough to recognize changes in your mood and behavior, too. Locking yourself in the bathroom to cry with a newborn in your arms is OK, even if you have a house full of people waiting to hold the baby. But staying in there all day and doing it again the next day could mean it’s time to call your doc. Placenta encapsulation was a game-changer for me the second time around. If you have considered this, my advice is: It’s the best $200 you will ever spend on yourself. Just don’t forget to tell the nurses you want to keep your placenta. They may throw it out pretty quickly otherwise.
Secret # 5:
With regard to #4, saying NO to visitors is OK and encouraged. It’s a big life adjustment and you need all the alone time with the new human you just pushed out that you can possibly get. I am pretty sure my precious Grandparents are still upset with me because they were at our house in the driveway when we pulled up with our first baby six years ago. Grateful that they were there with lunch and cared enough to come visit? Of course I was. But having time to get in and get settled would have been nice, too. I’d have been much more engaged and present during their visit had it been just a few hours later. I had no idea what I was doing as a parent and had literally just been cut open from hip bone to hip bone 3 days before. (Love you Granny and Papa – please forgive me for seeming ungrateful. I promise I was just trying to figure out my new life and needed some space.)
Secret # 6:
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone says that, I know. And it kind of sounds like annoying advice before you actually have the baby, but it really is true. While I was on maternity leave, I was slightly delusional to think I’d craft like Martha Stewart, start a business, and have a hot dinner on the table for my husband every day when he came home from work. I was lucky if I showered every other day and yoga pants and maternity tanks were the only laundry I had to worry about for myself. For 3 months.
Secret # 7:
If you have a C-section, you may experience the most gruesome pain AFTER you get home. I remember for at least a week after coming home from the hospital, every time I would sit down on the toilet to pee, a terrifying pain would shoot from my tailbone up to the middle of my back. The first time it happened I literally wailed as if I was being stabbed. It happened 2 dozen more times but seemed to lessen in severity over a week or so. I was told this was an after effect of the spinal block given to numb me before the incision, but I didn’t expect it. (I could see how an epidural would cause this also, but it didn’t happen to me with my second delivery.)
Secret # 8:
If you are fortunate enough to exclusively breastfeed your baby, know that it’s normal for them to go several days without pooping. And when they do poop, be ready. Hot, yellow, vinegary mess of a load it will be. But no need to be alarmed if a week passes between BMs. The way it was explained to me: breastmilk is so nutritious, there is very little waste for them to get rid of. Their bodies use almost all of your milk.
Secret # 9:
When you change their diaper, if you use a changing table, alternate the direction you lay them each time. They will naturally want to look at you while you change them, and if you lay them the same way ever time, you run the risk of causing their head to flatten on one side. Using the couch or bed and laying them directly in front of you works well, too.
Secret # 10:
When you go into labor, it may feel like you have to poop. With my second, I woke up at 3AM, rolled my giant body out of bed and waddled to the bathroom “to poop”. And then 20 minutes later…again. And then 10 minutes later… again. After an hour, I texted my husband who was sleeping upstairs because I was beyond the point of being an enjoyable bed partner, to tell him I thought I was in labor. After pacing laps around our living room and kitchen for another hour, my water broke and we had s baby soon after.
Don’t let any of this stuff freak you out. Having a baby is the greatest miracle I’ve ever known. It’s all worth it in the end, I promise.