Whether a woman has had one of those easy, happy pregnancies where her skin glows, or if she has been suffering through all kinds of nausea, cramps and mood swings, she's been dreaming of the day she could take her baby home from the hospital for nine long months.
No matter how much research you did ahead of time, your body still has a number of surprises to throw your way, and some of them can be just as rough as your least favorite pregnancy symptoms. But don’t worry, all these things are temporary. Plus, there are good surprises in store too, ones that are so wonderful they’ll outweigh all the bad.
So read on to learn about some of the good, bad, and downright bizarre things that happen to many women after they have given birth. Realistic expectations are key, so getting an idea of what your life will look like immediately postpartum can be very helpful. Of course, these tips are just here for guidance and background info, so be sure to consult your doctor if you’re really struggling with any of these things. Always listen to your body!
20 Dads Can Get Postpartum Depression Too
It might sound crazy since they’re not the ones giving birth, but studies have shown this to be true. Being around a child that you are acting as a parent to has an effect on your hormone levels, even if you didn’t give birth to them.
Up to one in ten dads may have symptoms of PPD, so if papa seems to be really struggling to adjust to the new baby, suggest that he get some help.
There’s no shame in it! You need your partner to be feeling good, so be sure to watch out for each other and get the help you need.
19 You Can’t Know For Sure If You’ll Get PPD Until It Happens
Maybe you’ve always been one of those ray-of-sunshine, cheerful people, and you’ve always wanted to be a mom, so you’re sure postpartum depression won’t affect you. Unfortunately, you can’t know for sure until you’ve lived it. However, if you have a family history of PPD or a personal history of depression, it is more likely. So if you can, talk to your mom, grandma, or aunts, and ask them about their experience. It can be a hard thing to discuss, but knowing will help you to be prepared, so it’s definitely worth asking.
18 Birth Injuries Can Last Much Longer Than You Think.
Since we’ve all seen how quickly paper cuts on our hands heal up and disappear, we may have unrealistic expectations for the healing speed of more serious injuries.
Injuries sustained during birth, such as a C-section scar or a tear, may not feel fully improved for up to a year.
Of course, this is less than ideal, and can have negative effects on other aspects of your life, so consider talking to your OBGYN or a pelvic floor therapist about recovery if you’re having a lot of pain. Always be sure not to push yourself too hard while recovering as well.
17 Back And Hip Pain
You may have had some pains like this along with period cramps before, but the back and hip pain you can experience after giving birth tends to be even worse. Remember what an extreme thing just happened to your body. It had been carrying more weight than it’s used to, and then it went through a likely long and painful process to get the baby out. So if you can, take some time to rest and give your spine and hips a break. They really deserve it and so do you.
16 Baby Weight Is Hard To Lose
We see celebrities slimming down within a month after giving birth and get frustrated with ourselves for not being able to do the same. But it’s important to remember that those stars are doing it with the help of professional trainers and nutritionists, as well as nannies to watch the baby while they work out for hours a day.
For the average person, this is impossible.
So be kind to yourself, and remember that your body just did an amazing thing. Remember as well, that you don't need to slim down. If you choose to, that's great! But it's also great if you choose to embrace this new body your baby has left you with.
15 In Addition To PPD, There Is Also PP Anxiety Or Distress
Maybe you’re not feeling like yourself post-pregnancy, but you’re also not feeling depressed specifically, so you don’t think you have PPD. But postpartum anxiety and distress are also fairly common – for example, if you’re excessively paranoid about the baby somehow getting injured. It can be scary to realize you have a disorder like this, but naming it is the first step to getting help. To be the best parent you can be, you have to recognize when something isn't right and when it's time to get help. Your baby and family will thank you for it.
14 You May Lose Some Bladder Control
You probably got used to having to go to the bathroom more often than you used to while you were pregnant, but for some women, this sticks around long after baby has left the building.
The good news is that there are some effective treatments for this, so don’t worry that you’ll be in diapers longer than your baby is!
Pelvic floor therapy can be very effective for bladder control, in addition to birth injuries. However, some women regain normal bladder control right away, and are very relieved to no longer have a baby pressing on their bladder all day!
13 The Sleep Deprivation Is Real
Everyone says this, everyone knows about it. But honestly? You can’t fully understand until you’ve done it. No matter how many late nights you’ve spent in your life, nothing compares to the utter and complete exhaustion you will experience when you first bring your baby home. The bright side is, something will kick in inside you and give you energy you never knew you had. It can feel impossible, but you can get through it. And try to call on friends/family/babysitters for breaks when you’re really at your wits' end!
12 Nursing Doesn’t Always Come Naturally
We’ve all seen TV shows and movies where the doctor hands mom a (unrealistically clean) newborn, who immediately latches on and starts nursing, and everyone’s happy. In real life, it can be a lot more complicated.
Many infants, especially ones who are born premature, can have trouble with latching.
Some moms need help from a nursing specialist, some moms solve the problem by pumping exclusively, and others choose to go with formula. However you’re feeding your baby, try not to stress about nursing. You’re doing the best you can for your baby, however, you feed them.
11 Not Everyone Bonds With The Baby Immediately
People talk about being absorbed by a life-changing wave of love the second they see their new baby, and it’s great if that happens to you, but it doesn’t happen to everybody. Other people need more time to really bond with their child. If this is true for you, try not to beat yourself up about it. You can generally assume that as you spend time with your baby that wave will come. However, this can also be one of the warning signs of postpartum depression, so if you are worried about this, do some more research into PPD and treatment.
10 Everyone Will Be Giving You Advice
There are many different “right” ways a raise a child, and everyone wants to share their opinion. Maybe your aunt won’t stop talking about how crying it out is the best method for sleep training, or your non-parent friend read some article about the benefits of breast milk.
What’s important to remember is that every baby is different, and what worked for one might not work for another – even within the same family.
So try to accept the advice graciously, but you don’t have to follow all of it. That would be impossible an conflicting! At the end of the day, follow your instincts, you know your baby better than anyone.
9 There Will Be Bleeding
You probably expect some bleeding already, but what you might not know is that it can last for up to six weeks. This may sound like the worst period ever, but it’s perfectly natural. However, if your bleeding lasts longer than six weeks, or if you’re losing so much blood that it’s making you feel weak, you have a condition such as a postpartum hemorrhage, so ask your doctor about any worrying symptoms. Make sure that you are also taking care of yourself during this time. Over-exerting yourself at this point can do more harm than good.
8 As Your Uterus Returns To Its Normal Size, It Will Feel Like Contractions
This makes sense once you know about it, but it was not something I had ever heard people talk about before my own experience. Obviously having a baby inside you stretched out your uterus (in addition to the belly you can see from outside).
As your womb returns to its pre-baby size, it may feel like contractions or cramps.
Don’t panic, there isn’t another baby coming out! It’s just a natural part of your body remembering what it was like pre-baby. It generally takes about a month for your uterus to be back down to pre-pregnancy size.
7 You Might Smell Different And Your Hair And Skin May Change
This one is probably the most bizarre. Hormones can do some really crazy things to your body. You know about the mood swings and nausea, but here are some other effects that can happen. Your body odor can change--some women report their sweat starting to smell oddly sweet. Also, there can be some changes to your hair and skin, like getting oilier or dryer. Who knows? Maybe these changes will be for the better! Either way dealing with the changes will definitely be another learning curb for mom on top of learning about baby's needs.
6 Mood Swings
Your hormones and your mood have taken a wild ride together throughout your pregnancy, and it may not be over quite yet. You might feel irritable, start crying inexplicably, or have other extreme displays of emotion.
In small doses, this might just mean your body is adjusting back to not having a baby inside, but it can also be a sign of PPD, so don’t ignore it.
Don’t blame yourself for them, either. These mood swings have a basis in the physical changes of your body, so it’s not something that you can just “not do.”
Now for the Great Parts!
5 You Might Enter The “Baby Bubble”
During this time, you might get so wrapped up in the baby that it’s like the two of you are in your own little world. It can be intoxicating to feel so entirely connected to this little being that you created, so enjoy it! Just try to remember to let your family hold the baby too once in a while. But this incredible love you feel for the baby is what will set the base for a life long bond between the two of you. Enjoy this time with this beautiful baby.
4 You Become An Expert
Even if you’re a young mom and this is your first kid, you quickly become an expert on your baby. You’ll know all the little things doctors might not notice, because you are so connected to your child.
You’ll get really good at sensing whether your baby likes or dislikes certain things.
You'll become able to distinguish different cries and know what they need – sometimes you'll even be able to anticipate their needs. And before you know it, your child will be old enough to tell you these things themselves!
3 All The Tiny Baby Things
The tiny clothes, the tiny fingers and toes, the perfect tiny ears. All of these things are adorable on any baby, but it can’t compare to admiring your own child. Imagine how cute you think a random baby is, and then multiply that by at least a thousand. Part of it is the hormones that are making your parenting instinct kick in, and part of it is the amazing thought that you created this perfect little baby with your own body. Plus, let's not forget the adorable clothing you can dress your baby in. No wonder new parents take a million pictures of their baby!
2 Sleeping On Your Stomach And Back Again
For many women, sleeping gets uncomfortable towards the end of a pregnancy because your stomach is so huge. It can be a huge relief to be able to sleep in any position you want now, without needing some fancy pillow contraption to support your belly!
You may be sleep deprived, but at least now when you do sleep, you can do so however you want.
There is sweet relief in being able to sleep comfortably whenever you do sleep. Though you will be woken up every few hours, this is still a postpartum perk!
1 Eating And Drinking Everything!
Okay, so there may be some limits to this, especially if you are breastfeeding, but once you’ve given birth, a much wider array of culinary options is open to you. All the foods you were craving that might not be safe for baby are safe for you again, and if you had nausea preventing you from eating, that’ll be gone. Plus you can drink again if that’s your thing! Tip: if you are breastfeeding, you’ll want to do the “pump and dump” with the milk from when you were drinking. Also, you’ll probably be a total lightweight at first, so be careful!