You can read about it, and people can tell you about it, but there’s no lesson, book or conversation that really prepares you for being a mum.
Once you push your little baby out, it’s a massive learning curve to get around. Here’s a few things you can probably expect!
1. Just after birth…
The time just after birth is dedicated to mums bonding with and feeding their baby. Around an hour post-birth, the hospital staff will move you to your room (if you have had no complications and a natural birth) – where you can shower, change and try to get some sleep. If you had a c-section, you will be moved to a post-operative area to be monitored.
Nursing staff will check on you regularly (regardless of the type of birth), which includes taking your blood pressure and temperature to make sure everything is okay. C-section ladies will still have little sensation in your lower bodies due to the anaesthesia, and it’s expected that you’ll feel a bit odd and woozy due to the pain medication.
2. Babies go to boobs after birth.
Yup – straight out of your vag, and onto the boob. Your breasts will already be leaking the invaluable colostrum, and even if you aren’t planning on breastfeeding, it is good to give bub this valuable liquid gold to give them a good start in life!
Plus they don’t tell you that it takes both you and your baby time to learn how to breastfeed. It really does not come naturally. Listen to the midwives, then do what feels right for you! If you are determined to still feed and are still having trouble, insist on a visit from a lactation consultant to give you a hand.
3. Peeing is a challenge!
For those ladies that have had a c-section, you don’t need to worry about this because after your operation, you’re fitted with a catheter, meaning you don’t need to get up and pee at all. But ladies that deliver vaginally, will find it really hard to pee at first.
You really, really want to pee, and your brain is definitely telling your body to wee, but sometimes, it can take a bit of time. Personally, I think it’s a great time to jump in the shower and full permission to have a wee in there, plus there’s much less sting!
4. Tired but wired.
Don’t underestimate just how tired you’ll feel after giving birth. Your body has just done the hardest work it will probably ever do: bringing a new life into the world. Whether you birthed naturally or via C-section, your body will really be feeling the after effect in the form of exhaustion. However, you’re unlikely to get any sleep because you’re so wired. Your brain is so excited about your newborn (especially if this is your first baby!) that there will be so much adrenaline running around, sleep is basically out of the question.
Our advice is to just try and relax as much as you possibly can. If you are getting frustrated, perhaps ask your nurse if you can have a couple of Panadol (ask first – you might not be allowed) which can help with any ouchies that prevent you from sleeping.
5. You’ll bleed…a lot!
They don’t make pregnancy pads for nothing! These mattress-like contraptions are necessary for the first week or so after birth. You will bleed more than you thought you would, or even could without it being a medical emergency. Keep an eye on any clots – and if you feel the bleeding is excessive (ie – a whole towel’s worth of bleeding), check with your doctor immediately! The first few days after birth, you will be going through pads like no tomorrow, but it will slowly ease. Swap to normal size pads when you can, for comfort and convenience.
We also recommend buying an industrial-sized pack of cheap black Grandma undies (choose a size up!). They are perfect for this period in your life, then you can ditch them when you are done. Seriously, you won’t want to look at them again!
6. Your vag will hurt (for vaginal births).
There’s no getting around it. After birth, you will be very sore. In fact, it will probably be hard to sit down properly for a few days or even weeks. A great thing to do to soothe a sore vagina is to have a salt water bath. Run some nice warm (not hot) water and dissolve some normal kitchen salt or some epsom salts into the water, then just lay there and relax. Great for healing if you have stitches!
7. Your scar could ache (for C-sections).
You just got gutted like a fish, and it is going to hurt. Support the scar well when you move around, but don’t be turned off moving. Inactivilty is not a good thing for c-section births, the quicker you start moving (little at first of course!), the faster you will heal and be back on your feet! Be very careful with how you move so you put as little pressure on the scar tissue as possible, instead of just ‘sitting up normally’ – start with rolling onto your side and then using your arm strength to push yourself up. Your body will tell you quick smart if you are doing it the wrong way!
Keep your scar clean and dry, and once the tape has come off, try and air it as much as you can, whilst still keeping it clean.
8. You could have haemorrhoids.
All that pushing pushes out more than a baby. Around 90% of women will have some form of haemorrhoids after natural child birth. Cold compresses are great for the pain, but we recommend you invest in some good quality toilet paper or flushable wipes as well.
It’s probably a good idea to grab some haemorrhoid cream in advance from your local chemist. They are also great for bags under the eyes!
9. Your baby will get a check up.
I admit I was a little out of sorts when a strange man sauntered into my room and started checking my baby’s hips and legs. I suppose he was wearing a doctor’s coat and it was 3am, but I had no idea that would happen. I know now that a doc will always check over your baby after they’re born to make sure that everything is A-okay. These checks are done to ensure bubs haven’t dislocated any limbs during the birth, so they’re a good thing!
10. Bonding with baby.
Some women fall in love with their newborns on sight. Others do not. If you’re in the latter group, don’t fret. Sometimes, it just takes time and being hard on yourself doesn’t help. It actually happens more often than you might think. When you get involved with your baby’s routine, bathing, changing, cuddles and feeding, that feeling of love and protection will come fast enough. And if it doesn’t, go talk to your doctor. This is an early sign of post-natal depression and you can get help.
11. Poop… it hurts!
Yup. Going No.2s will definitely hurt. Some hospitals will insert a suppository to help make things a bit easier, and the nurses should tell you how to support your vagina and perineum area (between your vag and butt hole to be blunt!), when going to the loo, but it still hurts. Drink loads of water and eat as much fibre as you can to help things along.
12. You’ll have visitors, some unwanted.
You can pretty much guarantee that plenty of people will come visit you and your new baby (especially if your first baby), and it’s great that they are excited about the new addition. However, you will be tired, sore and trying to bond and breastfeed your baby, so sometimes, the last thing you want is to talk to people. Don’t be frightened to tell them to go or come back in a few days. Often, if the nurses see you struggling, they will shoo out your visitors. Those strict visiting hours are there for a reason!