Giving birth is terrifying enough as it is. After carrying that sweet baby for nine months, it's now time to put that body to the ultimate test and give the gift of life. But after all the hard work is done and parents are packing up their hospital bags to head home for the first time, it's now time for more hard work: raising a child while recovering from birth.
New moms might already be aware that they will change, with some parts returning to normal, but there are so many aftereffects that most don't even realize; and I think it's high time we get aquatinted with some of them so that the natural process of ourselves going back to "normal" is more recognized and accepted.
Aside from our physique and hormones changing daily, we also have to figure out to handle life with a newborn, a partner (depending), sometimes a family pet, and all the daily stressors that happen in life. As most people say, life does not freeze when parents take a baby home; they now have to adjust to this crazy life with their baby. With that being said, here are 20 things people don't talk about after giving birth.
20 Those Out-of-Whack Hormones
I think one of the biggest stereotypes about pregnant women is joking about their hormone levels being out of whack. But that's not just a stereotype, that's a real thing that happens that's nothing to joke about. American Pregnancy explains, "Significant changes in your hormone levels can affect your level of neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals that regulate mood. Mood swings are mostly experienced during the first trimester between 6 to 10 weeks and then again in the third trimester as your body prepares for birth." While hormones during pregnancy are well-known, most people overlook the fact that hormonal imbalances will continue even after the baby has been birthed. This is due to estrogen dominance.
19 Postpartum Depression & The Baby Blues
Not many women notice they have postpartum depression or the baby blues until after the fact. They don't realize until after they're pulled out of darkness that they were actually in darkness. But it's one of those things that needs to be normalized.
Mayo Clinic describes some of the symptoms of postpartum depression being "Depressed mood or severe mood swings, excessive crying, difficulty bonding with your baby, withdrawing from family and friends," just to name a few. If any new mom feels an array of emotions like these, to the point where they no longer feel like themselves, be sure to reach out to a doctor for help.
18 Flattening Takes Time
Most women (and men) are surprised to learn that their belly takes a few weeks to flatten down after birth. But if you think about it, it was just home to a living, breathing being for nine months — it's going to take time! Since your body is now adjusting to life without baby, make sure to be nice to your new body and understand that your pre-baby body isn't going to come back overnight. Can it be achieved again? Absolutely, just make sure to heal first and let the doctor clear you before working out again. And, even if it doesn't, your body is an incredible thing that deserves a ton of self-love.
17 A Lot More Plasma
Bleeding after birth seems scary, but it's completely normal. And when you think about the trauma that your body just went through, bleeding seems kind of normal. NCT explains "This bleeding is known as lochia. The lochia is a combination of mucus, tissue and blood that your womb sheds as it replaces its lining after you’ve given birth." While some moms may bleed for just a couple days after baby, NCT says most mothers bleed for up to 36 days. Again — it's nothing to worry about, this is your body on the mend.
16 Hair Thickening And Thinning
Since all women are different, they may experience hair thickening during pregnancy (due to all the vitamins and hormone changes) and hair thinning after pregnancy. (Can't us, women, catch a break!?) Kelly Mom describes how some women get postpartum hair thinning, where it can last up to three months after birth. "With the birth of your baby (and the hormonal changes that accompany birth), a larger number of hairs than normal enter the resting phase. Since the resting phase is followed by hair shedding (and regrowth), new mothers will experience greater than normal hair loss once the resting phase ends."
15 Contractions Post Partum
Contractions during labor are one of the hardest parts about the birthing experience. So new moms are probably thrilled to be done with those bad boys once the baby arrives, right? Wrong. Postpartum cramping is a thing, and it can happen after birth.
Baby Center writes, "The cramps known as afterbirth pains, or simply afterpains, are caused by contractions of your uterus as it returns to its pre-pregnancy size after you have your baby." So in case any new moms were worried about those cramps, it's simply your body's way of going back to normal.
14 Heavier Periods
After my best friend had her baby, she was worried what her first period would be like. And as is the way for many first time moms, her first period was way heavier than normal. However, OB/GYN Diane Young, MD. tells the Cleveland Clinic that periods will be heavier or worse before going back to normal (this is, of course, unless you're breastfeeding). Most women who breastfeed won't get their period for a few months after baby. Doctor Young explains, "This may occur after pregnancy and childbirth have stretched the uterus and dilated the cervix. This alone can improve future periods. Pregnancy also releases hormones that relax uterine muscles."
13 Say Hi To Your New Belly Button
A mom may notice her belly button poking out when pregnant, but what happens to that perky belly button after pregnancy? Well, as you can imagine, it takes time for your body (especially your stomach region) to go back to "normal" post-baby. And that includes the belly button. Baby Center describes a woman's belly like a balloon; "Imagine your tummy as a balloon, slowly inflating as your baby grows. Giving birth doesn't pop the balloon, it just starts a slow leak. The decrease in your tummy size may be slow, but it will be steady." While it may look deflated at first, eventually it will regain its natural look.
12 Going To The Restroom...
One of the first things my best friend told me after birth is how weird it was going number two... She felt like she needed to go, but at the same time, felt constipated. Along with those feelings, she was also horrified she was going to rip something considering her baby girl JUST came out!
One mom told Scary Mommy exactly what it was like and I think it kind of hits the nail on the head: "I don’t care how many stool softeners they give you; it feels absolutely certain that there is going to be some kind of explosion or tear and you are going to die on the toilet like Elvis."
11 Crying Is Normal
Some people are cryers more than others, but crying after birth is completely normal. And I don't just mean in the hospital room after your child is born, I mean crying randomly throughout the day after the baby is home. Are new mothers happy? Sad? Horrified? Who knows! Kids Health reminds new moms that crying may also be linked to the baby blues, due to your hormone levels changing so drastically; "Levels of estrogen and progesterone that increased during pregnancy drop suddenly after delivery, and this can affect mood." So if you suddenly feel the urge to cry (regardless of the situation), just let those tears out.
10 The Linea Nigra
Before a woman gets pregnant, she may notice that dark line going down a pregnant woman's belly; from her belly button downward. That, my friends, is called the linea nigra. Baby Center describes this mysterious dark line perfectly. "The linea nigra is caused by pigmentation in the skin where your tummy muscles have stretched and slightly separated, to accommodate your baby as she grew." While that's a fun fact, what happens to that line after birth? "This line of pigmentation usually fades within a few months of giving birth."
9 Breastfeeding Isn't Always Easy
Depending on whether a woman breastfeeds or not, it can be somewhat of a process. I'm sure many new moms expect their milk to already be in full supply before baby gets there—so that they're ready and waiting—but the milk supply doesn't actually come until after the baby is born. Baby Center actually explains how milk doesn't come in for a couple of days after baby; "It takes about three days to four days for your milk to come in, if you’re a first-time mum. If you've had a baby before, it can happen earlier than this. Your breasts will start to feel full a couple of days after giving birth, which is a sign that your milk is coming in."
But that's not all. Sometimes babies have trouble latching on and if there's no baby trying to get milk out of their mother's breasts, then that could lead to a woman's breast supply to get low. Regardless of the situation, be sure to consult with a nurse or doctor for any questions or concerns about feeding your baby.
8 And MORE Changes
I remember in my younger days being SO excited for the day I get pregnant because I couldn't WAIT to have a larger chest (A-cup over here). But a woman's chest growing from pregnancy isn't exactly what most young girls have in mind. They get larger, yes, but they're also natural food supply for a living being. Meaning, they're going to be rock solid after birth, feel heavy, and feel uncomfortable until some milk is released. And if you're not breastfeeding, that pain is going to last a little longer than a mom who is breastfeeding (grab the cabbage for a quick pain reliever!).
Over time your breasts will most likely get smaller and go back to your normal size, but the perkiness might not be what it once was. Stretch marks also might be a possibility depending on a person's skin elasticity and how often they're moisturizing.
7 Birth Of The Placenta
This is something most people don't talk about until after it happens, and enough is enough.
After a woman gives birth to their beautiful baby, they also have to give birth to its home... the placenta! Think about it, the baby was growing in the placenta for nine months, so now that it made its way outside of its home, the mother now needs to get rid of that too. Some moms say they don't feel the doctors coach it out, while others say they felt a strong release when it left their bodies.
6 You WILL Have To Wear Diapers
Considering celebrities have such a pull in the media, most women were surprised to learn that they may have to wear large pads or adult diapers when they give birth. This was, of course, tweeted by Twitter legend Chrissy Teigen. "No one told me I would be coming home in diapers too."
Many women feel the need to wear diapers or large pads after birth because of the continuous bleeding that happens afterward. And while it may be weird having to wear a diaper (matching your baby), it's better to be in something to catch the mess than ruining undies or pajama pants.
There are many fortunate people on this earth who have never had hemorrhoids in their life. However, that may change after the baby. Hemorrhoids seem scary, but they can be resolved. A Very Well Family says they're nothing but "veins that have become swollen and engorged with blood." These can range in sizes anywhere from the size of a pea to a grape. Some symptoms may be itching or discomfort in that area, along with some minor bleeding. The site also explains why women who just gave birth are more prone to hemorrhoids than others: "Pregnant mothers have an increased production of the hormone progesterone, which also causes veins to relax, which leads to—you guessed it—even more swelling."
4 You're Not Always Gonna Love Your Child
There are so many stories, shows, and movies that show mothers immediately loving their newborn child. They're overwhelmed with emotion after bringing this little life into the world and they can't wait to watch them grow. But life isn't always a fairytale. There are many women who felt no attachment to their baby at all. While they may not hate their baby, they don't necessarily love their baby yet. This, as sad as it may sound, is also completely normal sometimes after birth. "During the first week after birth, up to 80 percent of mothers will get the baby blues," Healthy WA ensures. It's during this time where new moms feel an array of positive and negative emotions like not loving their baby right away.
Be sure to contact your doctor if this feeling lasts a while, because it could be the first sign of postpartum depression.
3 Body Pains
A great way to relieve some of this pain is to stay hydrated, try to stay active, focus on posture, and try some light stretching through yoga.
2 It's Okay To Ask For Help!
Here's one thing moms need to be reminded of after birth: it's okay to ask for help!
I know there's a sense of pride and responsibility that most parents feel after giving birth to their baby, but it's not irresponsible to ask for help. If you're not sure what to do in a situation or are scared to give the baby a bath for the first time — ask for help. I think most new moms would rather the support than going into parenthood in the dark. It's not shameful in the slightest. Especially considering years ago, a couple used to live with all of their family members under one roof (grandparents, aunts, cousins...), so they always had help with the baby if they needed it. If there's help around, take it!
1 You May Dislike Your Partner
I know what many of you are thinking. How could I ever dislike my partner after they just helped me give birth to our pride and joy? Well, the answer isn't so black-and-white. Ignoring the whole hormone situation for a second, if this is a couple's first child, they're both going to feel like doing things their own way (naturally, respectively). Everyone was raised differently, so my way of helping a baby go to sleep may be significantly different than my husband's, which may cause a few spats here and there. And arguing with a partner while taking care of a new baby is never going to end well. Add a change of hormones to parenting differences, and you may feel more anger towards your partner than love. But guess what? It's okay. These kinds of things will work themselves out and a couple will get in their own flow for what works for them and their baby.
References: BabyGaga, Pregnant Chicken, Scary Mommy, Babble, American Pregnancy, NCT, Kelly, Mom, Cleveland Clinic, Baby Center, Baby Center, MIC, A Very Well Family, Vanquish