My pregnancy experience was fantastic. I had a super fun time being pregnant. I ran, I walked, I lifted weights, I went spinning. The only bump in the road was my gestational diabetes. Once I pushed Baby Spawn out, all hell broke loose. Here is…
What You Should Know After Delivering A Baby
Note: This is/was my experience and what I’ve learned so far.
1. There will be blood. Holy balls, Batman. You will bleed like a MF. Use those giant diapers the hospital gives you. They’ll give you Tucks (witch hazel) pads to blot/wipe your vagina – use those. They’ll give you a squirt bottle to “bidet” yourself. Do that. They’ll give you a stool softener. Take it. Before you leave the hospital, take everything that’s not bolted down.
1b. When you go home, make sure someone gets you a giant pack of maxi pads, Depends, or both. You will bleed for about six (6!) weeks. I had The Wife buy me some generic CVS version of Kotex maxi pads and they worked well. One day, I had the biggest piece of tissue come out – it was like the size of a small baseball mitt. PS – if your mom-friends don’t warn you about this… they suck.
Granny panties are your friends. Those weird mesh boy shorts that the hospital gives you? Best things evarrrrr. (Take extra – ask your nurse.) Wear old underwear.
2. You will look like crap. You’ve got excess IV fluids. You haven’t brushed your hair. You forgot to wash your face. You may or may not have time to put makeup on when the visitor train begins. Nurses come in at regular intervals to check up on you and the baby. Your sleep will be interrupted. When you go home… well, you’ll forget whether you’ve taken a shower. (On some days, I had to ask The Wife if I had showered. He did the same.)
3. You will ugly cry. With sadness, with happiness, with anxiety, with all the feels. Your hormones are so out of whack, it’s not funny. You will watch your baby sleep next to you in the hospital room and you will cry with joy. You will also cry with your significant other, your siblings, parents, best friends. Everything will make you cry.
3b. Let me get back to the hormones. THE HORMONES. I had massive mood swings for the first four weeks. (The Wife would probably say I still have mood swings. Ha!) I went from total sadness and despair to happiness and tears of joy. I also had my placenta encapsulated. Still emotional… I think I scared The Wife because I was either crying or tearing up EVERY DAY, at least once a day. Looking back, I think I suffered from postpartum depression. If you think you need help, please get help.
4. Talk to a Lactaction Consultant (or, in my experience, four) for help with breastfeeding. It can take a few days for your milk to get going. There is immense pressure to breastfeed. I saw three different lactation consultants while I was at the hospital and a lactation specialist when I got home. I also went to a breastfeeding support group (and still do) for support. Emotional, physical, what have you. Everyone is there to help you figure out latching, milk production, whether your baby has tongue tie, and so on. On my last day at the hospital, my third LC was the best one yet – I finally “got it” and so did Baby Spawn. Whew.
Your breasts are going to feel different. Those milk ducts are no joke. If your baby has trouble latching to your nipples, your nipples will pay the price. Make your SO get your some nipple butter. Or register for that stuff for your baby shower.
Do not go it alone. Your baby needs you to get it together. If you end up formula feeding, IT IS OK! (Don’t beat yourself up, you’re already a tired mama. No need for more negative feels.) GET SUPPORT for formula-feeding moms. (Let me introduce you to my friend – the Fearless Formula Feeder.)
5. You will eat like a truck driver, and you need to hydrate. You will burn a zillion calories when you’re breast feeding. I’ve been told to eat another half sandwich. No, sir, I will eat an additional WHOLE sandwich. And ice cream. I’m one of those lucky jerks who lost a ton of weight after birth.
You will also need to drink a lot of water. Not only is it good for breastmilk production, you’ll just be thirsty all the time. Keep a water bottle next to you in bed and wherever you’re nursing.
6. You will not sleep. You will be watching your baby breathe and make sure she’s still alive after you’ve taken her home. The Wife and I practically jumped up anytime we heard Baby Spawn stir or grunt. You’ll probably live off adrenaline and food for a while.
6b. You may accidentally do this:
6c. When people tell you “sleep when the baby sleeps,” tell them to F OFF. It’s easy for other people to say this shit if they had family or paid help. We didn’t. If you don’t have help and it’s just you (or you and the SO), you will be exhausted. If you can sleep when the baby sleeps, great. If you can’t, let me give you a hug. You will get your naps in sometime and it’ll be up to you to figure that one out. It will be brutal. I repeat: Sleep deprivation will be brutal.
I wish someone had warned me that the first couple weeks would be this insane for us. Someone joked that sleep deprivation was used as a form of torture at Guantanamo Bay. I get it.
Maybe no one can really prepare you but it would have been nice to get a warning like “Hey, you’re going to be so f-ing tired, you won’t even have time to brush your teeth or shower for days.” Or “Hey, it’s super hard but you will get through it. Sheer will and adrenaline make make you get through it. Alone or together.”
7. Make visitors bring you food. That should be a requirement for entry, and those who are already parents should know better than to come empty-handed. Plus it’s a very tangible thing that visitors can do easily. I’m super grateful that my brother showed up with groceries and lunch. I’m very thankful for everyone who brought food – again, you may not have time to go out to pick up food or cook. (If you meal plan, you’re a rockstar!)
7b. Ask for help/put them to work. If they ask to help, put them to work – dishes, trash, errands, holding the baby while you take a quick shower. For us, we didn’t, not because we didn’t trust friends and family. It was easier for us to get things done, even when visitors were around. The food drop/delivery was the one thing that truly helped us the most.
7c. Also, make them wash their hands before touching your baby. These are your friends and family – you know where they’ve been. Your baby hasn’t had their shots yet – protect your baby.
I have pump bottles of antibacterial gel next to the changing pad/dresser and our living room, and I pack these Babyganics wipes for Spawn’s hands when I can’t get to a bathroom. (She puts her hands in her mouth all the time now.)
8. Wear the baby! Skin to skin time is so important and this is another way to do it. I went to The Pump Station to learn how to wrap Spawn, and now I love wearing her in my Boba Wrap! I also have an Ergobaby 360 and got a Tula. (Even The Wife loves babywearing.) It makes weaving through big crowds easier as well as decreases the need for a stroller when you have to run a quick errand. If you are in So Cal, there is an FB group called So-Cal Babywearers and its related FB page called Babywearing LA. (Edit: I love babywearing so much, I started a new blog!)
I also think it’s nice for partners to hear that they’re doing a good job too – especially if they’re not the ones breast feeding yet they’re scrambling to cook, clean, take the trash out, run errands, make sure you’re hydrated, and so on. The Wife has been a rockstar doing all those things for me/us, especially during the first few weeks when I was still healing.
10. Find support wherever you can. I felt very alone and isolated during the first six weeks or so. I could be surrounded by friends, family and The Wife, and yet still feel like I was handling everything in a vacuum.
I am incredibly grateful to several FB mom groups I belong to as well as a handful of friends who are new moms as well. Lucky for me, five of my friends had babies in 2013 and 2014, so I’ve been able learn from them, asking for advice, support, a shoulder to cry on. I text my new-mom friends constantly, at odd hours (and they don’t blink an eye because they’re bleary-eyed and up in the middle of the night too). They have become my sounding boards. They’ve saved my sanity.
Those FB groups I belong to – they have become my virtual support groups. I go to a breastfeeding support group at my hospital. I have been looking to join Mommy & Me classes for more support and camaraderie. That’s on my to-do list. I should have looked earlier but hey, I can only do so much each day.
Finally, just a note to any new mom out there: You get better. It gets better. Know that it gets better. It may not feel like it, but know that it will. It took me this long (10 weeks) to realize this. Take it one day at a time. You’ll still not sleep. You’ll still have your hands in a ton of poopy diapers. Your breasts may still feel tender. You may still smell like sour milk and sweat. Your SO may be just as exhausted as you.
One more time: You get better. Everything gets better.
And it’s all worth it.
Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links and some kick ass gifs, if I don’t say so myself.