Giving Birth to a Baby: Things Only Your Sister Will Tell You
There’s a sisterhood among women who have had children. No, it’s not the glory of motherhood, the joy of giving birth to a baby, or the empowerment of having accomplished a difficult physical feat. (You can go to the other parenting sites for that.)
We’re talking about the unspoken understanding that we’ve all seen the immediate, messy aftermath. No one likes to talk about it because giving birth is raw and primal and, frankly, not appropriate dinner party banter. But among the sisterhood of mothers, there are these moments, these sidelong oh-we’ve-all-been-there glances, that confirm: We all know, but won’t say.
Well, we’re saying it. Here are the things to know about giving birth to a baby that even your best friend won’t tell you. (Because she does want to make sure you go through with the delivery, after all.)
Things to Know about Giving Birth to a Baby (but No One Will Tell You)
There Will Be Blood.
Go to the store beforehand and buy yourself some super-duper, gigantic maxi pads with wings. (Better yet, make your husband do it.) But still, prepare yourself: This isn’t some monthly flow-type stuff.
This is a whole other level.
The bleeding after giving birth to a baby is going to be constant, and it’s going to last for way longer than you ever expected. You will wonder: Where is it all coming from? Well, your baby was bouncing around a very comfortable and fluffy, padded cell for nine months, that’s where. Beyond that, it’s best not to think about this too much.
You Keep On Contracting.
So, you had some painful contractions, and maybe you got some pain relief, maybe you didn’t; but now that the baby’s out, the hard part is over, right?
Wrong! Human biology is incredible: After giving birth to a baby, certain hormones send a message to your uterus telling it the pregnancy is over and it can now return to its normal state. But that means the uterus has to spend some time contracting to get back to its regular size and adapt to this no-baby reality. So, for 24 to 48 hours after the baby and placenta are out, you’ll still be having excruciating contractions. Yay, for the human body! (P.S., you’ll thank this process later; see The Belly below.)
Sore Is Not Just A 4-Letter Word.
You’re going to be sore after a natural delivery. Not surprising, you say? But, we don’t mean that kind of soreness. We mean all-over, full-body, just-ran-a-marathon-with-no-training kind of muscle fatigue. Because pushing that baby out is a very physical process that uses muscle groups you didn’t know you had (or a baby needed). For days after giving birth to a baby, expect to feel worse than you would after your first day at a fitness bootcamp.
A Catheter Is (Likely) Inescapable.
Can’t imagine why, right? Neither could we, but then: There it was! Whether you have a natural delivery with a local anesthetic or a C-section, you probably won’t be able to move for at least 12 hours.
With a C-section, you’ve just had someone slice through your abdominal muscle — and a little more — so getting up to pee isn’t exactly high on the list of things you can easily accomplish. But even after a vaginal delivery with minimal collateral damage, if you’ve had an epidural, guess what: The bottom half of your body is basically paralyzed; you won’t even be able to feel a full bladder, or do anything about it.
Either way, your first pee after the catheter is removed is apparently a big deal to hospital staff; you probably haven’t been applauded by anyone so much for completing a bodily function since you were potty trained. Revel in your accomplishment.
If You’ve Had An Epidural…
You are one of the smug ones, thinking, “Giving birth wasn’t so bad. What is everyone complaining about?” And in fact, when those pesky post-delivery contractions kick in, you will be patting yourself on the back heartily, because those pain killers are still proving useful.
But welcome to parenting, the life experience that teaches you your smugness can never last too long.
The moment you try to do anything, you will realize that you can’t move the bottom half of your body. So for that first, post-catheter pee, you will be dragged to the bathroom under both arms like a wounded soldier in Saving Private Ryan.
The Belly Does Not Disappear.
First-time moms frequently expect to magically see their abs again the moment their child pops out. Despite all of the body’s natural methods of ensuring you end up back to normal as soon as possible after giving birth to a baby, it takes a little time.
One of the most confusing parts of the first few days is looking down and thinking, “Why am I still pregnant?” Granted, it’s more like a second- trimester pregnancy than the 3kg-er you just had inside you, but still — there’s a belly. You will be wearing “maternity” clothes home from the hospital. Give it at least a week before you try to look un-pregnant.
You Will Need Stuff You Didn’t Know You Needed.
You’ll need all kinds of little accoutrements you didn’t know you needed. A little squirt-bottle with witch hazel to douse any stitched-up ladybits. Some stool softener, just to ensure that everything goes very… smoothly… for a few days, so your lower half doesn’t experience any further trauma. A massive bra for when the first surge of milk comes bulging through. It’s always so cute when first-timers are packing mint-flavored lip balm in their hospital bags; it’s like, “Oh, you have no idea what what to expect in labor, do you?”
Now you do. Good luck, sisters!