After the taxing, exciting, and emotionally fraught experience of giving birth, it can be hard to relax right away, no matter how tired the new mother is. Going from 100% tense to fast asleep can take longer than we would like. Despite the huge release of delivering a baby, the anxious questions about the welfare of ourselves, our babies, and anything else we can think of plague us as we come to terms with the fact that it is really over. Doctors and nurses are used to getting the same questions over and over again from mothers terrified that despite everything going smoothly, something must have gone wrong.
As multiple-time mothers will know, however, these fears are normal and just part of the intense situation they’ve just experienced. Whether a newly pregnant soon-to-be mom wondering what’s to come after the birth or a mother of multiple children looking to confirm that she’s not alone in these sometimes laughable concerns, all moms can find comfort in the fact that every woman is a little bit anxious after giving birth. Here are some of the 20 most common questions moms ask after giving birth, from the standard welfare of the baby to wondering if they can stay in the hospital forever.
20 Is Everything Over?
Probably the number 1 question asked by moms to doctors and nurses after delivery is if there’s anything else they have to endure. You’ve done the birth. You’ve done the afterbirth (which, by the way, was a lot to ask in itself. Why do they never show that part in movies?). You’ve seen the baby and have been told to rest. But still, you have this sneaking suspicion that there’s something they haven’t told you about. What about the after birth?
Rest assured, once they’ve told you it’s over, it’s time to rest. You’ve just brought a baby into the world! You deserve it.
19 Is The Baby Okay?
After giving birth to what looked like a tiny, wet alien, it was whisked away. While it was getting cleaned you couldn’t help asking whether it was ok -- maybe they were actually taking it away to snip its webbed feet, or to deal with its second head. Maybe that wasn’t your baby at all, but actually an alien. Even when you’re holding it can be hard to stop the niggling questions. Is it breathing normally? Is it supposed to be that small? Is it making enough noise?
It’s normal to worry about every aspect that could be going wrong, but try to appreciate the first moments with your new child.
18 What did my partner see?
For many of us, gone are the days of spouses pacing outside a hospital room with a cigar with no clue as to what’s going on inside. Probably your partner was in the room with you, cheering you on and holding your hand (or, more accurately, letting you use their hand as your personal stress ball). You were thankful that from where you were seated you could leave a lot of the visuals to the imagination, but your partner likely had a better vantage point for all the details. Rest assured, they love you and are too excited about the new baby to remember anything else.
17 Can I Sleep Now?
As long as you’re through the after birth (and have at least said hello to the new baby) it is probably ok to have a well-deserved snooze. Some mothers are often too excited to sleep right away, but the majority are so exhausted by what they’ve just through that they can’t keep their eyes open. There will be plenty of time to fawn over the baby when you’ve recovered a little -- and they could probably use some sleep too! Have a rest so you can fully appreciate the newborn when you wake up.
16 Did I Tear?
Odds are everything is feeling pretty painful down there. Even if nothing tore, there will still be a lot of stretching which leads to about equal amounts of postpartum pain. Tearing, however, is still pretty normal and will almost always heal on its own. Your doctor can give you medicine and tips for relieving pain at home, like putting ice on the area and sitting on a pillow. This is a good question for your doctor so you know how much time it will take to start feeling normal again, even though tearing isn’t usually something to worry about.
15 Did I Have An Accident?
As previously mentioned, things are probably feeling a little weird down there, not to mention a bit wet. All of your normal reactions and sensitivities have been thrown out the window and you can’t even tell whether or not you have to go to the bathroom.
To be perfectly honest, even if you did let out a little something extra during the birth, which isn’t likely with everything else going on, odds are nobody noticed. It’s probably best to let go of any feelings of embarrassment from the birth -- it’s a natural process, after all.
14 Can I Look At My Hoo-Ha?
This one’s really up to you, but it’ll depend on how closely you want to look. There will likely not be much of an external change unless you did tear, so quick glances down aren’t going to scar you for life if you’re a bit squeamish. Internally it’s a different story, and again, all that stretching and even tearing will take some time to heal. Maybe avoid becoming too curious about the particulars and just trust that the healing is happening. If pain worsens or you do become concerned you’re not healing properly, contact your doctor for advice.
13 How Long Until I Can Get Busy Again?
Maybe you’ve missed being intimate with your partner without a big baby bump in the way, or without getting winded just from rolling over. Doctors recommend, however, waiting at least six weeks after giving birth until becoming sexually active again. Six weeks is the time of your postpartum checkup, so your doctor will be able to check that the stretching has mostly healed and bleeding has stopped. It’s around this time that you should be feeling an abatement in discomfort as well, so it’s likely you won’t even be in the mood until the pain starts to go down.
12 Are You Sure The Baby Has All Their Fingers and Toes?
You think you’ve counted again and again but surely you must have missed something? How do they know there’s nothing wrong with the baby? Have they really checked for everything?
It’s normal to obsess a little about your baby’s health. After all, you just spent nine months keeping it safely protected inside you, and now it has to face the world. It’s natural you’ll feel concerned now that it’s left your safe cocoon. Remember that the medical professionals have done this hundreds, even thousands of times -- they know what to look for. If they tell you everything’s ok, relax!
11 Can I Eat Now?
You might be surprised at how many women’s thoughts during labor center around the food they’re planning on having after. Like a grueling athletic feat, birth takes a lot out of you and the first meal is sometimes as memorable as any of the experience. If you had a C-section the answer will be different, but if you had a vaginal birth then you can pretty much eat once the birth is over -- the only exception is usually if the baby wants to eat first. Get your request in early and your family can even have a favorite meal waiting for you.
10 How Do I Take Care Of This Child?
One of the best things about giving birth in the hospital is the number of professionals around to help you in the first steps of motherhood. Whether you’re having trouble breastfeeding or wondering how best to swaddle, the nurses will be happy to give helpful tips. But remember, you’ve probably spent months preparing for this; it might feel different swaddling a real baby instead of a doll but the same basic idea is there. Read a lot of parenting books? Even though experience is the best teacher, any preparation you did will help as you start to take care of your new child.
9 How Do I Know If The Baby Likes Me?
Just go ahead and say this to yourself now: No matter what, the baby loves you. It’s common for a kind of fear of failure to take over new mothers as they worry that they don’t know what they’re doing and, somehow, the baby will know and judge them for it. All the baby knows, however, is that you’re its mother and you take care of it. Nothing can break that immediate bond between mother and child. The baby already loves you! There’s nothing to worry about there.
8 How Do I Know If I’m Doing Things Right?
As with most things is life, there is no one right way to parent. When it comes down to it, the heaps of advice from family, doctors, friends, and books is just that: advice. Other than the baseline of knowing how to keep a baby alive, the choices you make about caring for your child are yours alone, and you have to trust your maternal instincts to lead you down the path that’s right for both of you. A great deal of anxiety is caused because moms hold themselves to this golden standard they imagine for themselves that doesn’t actually exist. There is no perfect mother! Do your best and you and your child will be just fine.
7 Will It Hurt When I Pee?
You might not want to hear this, but yes, it probably will. Trouble going to the bathroom is very common for a few weeks after giving birth. The stretching and tearing can feel irritated when using the bathroom, but rest assured a little pain usually doesn’t mean anything bad. Due to swelling, it can be hard to urinate and pass bowel movements at all, so doctors recommend making sure to eat plenty of fiber and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and constipation. Going to the bathroom might be a bit unpleasant for a few weeks after birth, but it’s all part of the healing process.
6 How Long Do I Have To Wear The Diaper?
On the flip side, it’s also very common to have trouble keeping control of your bladder after giving birth due to the strain put on your pelvic nerves. This is particularly true when sneezing, coughing, or laughing, which can all lead to some leakage. When you add in the bleeding that happens for a few weeks after the birth, you might actually want to be wearing a diaper when you leave the hospital. The hospital likely has a good stock of heavy duty sanitary napkins, but whether you’re leaving in diapers is totally dependent on how quickly you’re healing.
5 Why Is There Still So Much Discomfort?
The less talked about side of giving birth is the after effects, so you might feel like you didn’t get enough warning about the healing that has to happen afterward. Remember you just pushed a human out of your body -- that’s going to cause some discomfort. The healing process is gradual from all that stretching and nerve strain, and even if you avoided tearing and hemorrhoids, your body has to recover. Look forward to your postpartum appointment in six weeks as a time when you should be feeling almost back to normal. At least you have a newborn to keep you distracted until then!
4 Can I Stay Here With The Nurses Forever?
What do you mean, I don’t get to keep this team of baby experts around forever? Having someone to watch the baby while you sleep and make sure it’s getting fed enough can be a godsend after you’ve been through the exhausting process of giving birth. Not to mention just the added feeling of security from having people who really know what they’re doing around to keep the new baby alive. When it comes time to leave the hospital, it can be hard to say goodbye to this safety net. However, you’re stepping out of one net into another with friends and family who are just as happy to help out when you need a hand.
3 Did I Actually Do Number 2?
Probably not. Giving birth causes a great deal of strain to pelvic nerves, which can confuse all the muscles that generally have to do with going to the bathroom. Many doctors actually give the advice to push as if you’re pooping when giving birth. The fear of passing a bowel movement causes women a great deal of anxiety that slows down the birthing process, but it’s really nothing to worry about. Up until the pushing stage you’re able to use the bathroom privately, and it’s common for a body to void the bowels before giving birth. Even if something does slip out, the odds of anyone noticing besides the doctor are pretty slim, so it’s best to just ignore this possibility.
2 Can I Get Freshened Up?
Everyone’s priorities are different after giving birth. All some women want is a nap, others a big meal, and others just want to stop feeling so sweaty and messy. Experts say that bathing is safe as soon as the birth as over, and warm water can be therapeutic to your strained muscles and tissue. You might want to skip the shower for now but a relaxing bath in a mild temperature (too hot and you could hurt the sensitive tissue) will help you feel more like yourself. Change into some new clothes and brush your hair to relax.
1 Can Someone Help Me Feed This Baby!?
If you’ve chosen to breastfeed your baby, the first times can be intimidated. How do you know when it’s working? How do you know if it’s eating enough? Can it eat too much?
Amazingly, the best person to help you feed the baby is the baby itself. Newborns will show a desire to breastfeed within hours of their birth and naturally know what to do. They may require some guidance and head-holding, but let the baby take the reigns. You can’t overfeed a newborn or spoil it with too much milk -- all it can take in at this stage will be used to help it grow healthy.
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