Thursday, January 26, 2017

Everything They Don't Tell You About Having a Baby

When I was pregnant with Hudson, I bought this book to help me understand what was going to happen with having a baby and giving birth. I loved referring to it again with Ella, but there was something it left out...what happens after delivery! And even some of the not-so-fun things that happen during a hospital delivery. In fact, I'm flipping through it again, and all I see is a small bullet list with things like:

What happens after delivery:
"The umbilical cord will be clamped..."
"You'll be moved to the postpartum floor..."
"You'll be able to leave the hospital 3-5 days after the delivery..."

Nothing about what really happens with having a baby. And I think that's what threw me off the most. These were things I wasn't prepared for because no one told me...(like how no one told me that losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise...hello!) 

Well as your friend and fellow mama, today I am sharing everything that happens when you have a baby. Some of it is super gross, but I'm thinking that if I tell you then hopefully you can be more prepared than I was. Because that's what most new moms want is to be prepared. And some of these things were worse/better with baby #2 so this list is for second time moms too! (And just a note: I had a medicated/vaginal birth so some of these won't apply to all mamas depending on your situation).

1. You don't get to eat much
I had a 36-hour labor with my first and an 8-hour labor with my second, and this part still doesn't get any easier. Once they get the Pitocin going and you have an epidural, the eating stops. It's ice chips from there on out. I don't know about you, but my pregnant body does not do well on ice chips alone. And it's not like you're only getting your nutrition from ice chips because they'll have you on IV fluids too, but I always feel like a ravening wolf after that baby is out (super attractive, I know). So just be aware, labor = ice chips. 

2. Pushing is hard work
This is something I could have guessed, but didn't really expect because I was getting an epidural. You see all of the shows with the women having a baby and they're screaming and sweating and I just thought that was because they were doing it naturally. While some of that is true, they were sweating because pushing is a huge workout! You have to hold your breath and count to 10 and contract your abs to try and get a human baby out of you. It's exhausting! And it's even harder with an epidural because you're trying to engage muscles that you can't even feel. I only pushed for 45 minutes with my first and 25 minutes with my second, but I hear of some women pushing for multiple ladies are the real MVPs. Be aware, pushing = hard work.

3. You may throw up
Again...not expecting this. I threw up with my first and didn't with my second, but I was prepared in case I did! I think the length of my first labor, plus the act of pushing just really upset my stomach so out came the ice chips (sorry, I warned you). Thankfully I had a bag and it didn't go on the floor and the nurse gave me some anti-nausea medication so I was fine after. I would ask for a sick bag from the nurse just in case because you don't want to be sitting in throw up. Gross. 

4. The baby comes on the doctor's schedule
Kind of...I  know there are some women who literally push for 2 minutes (my sister-in-law) and the baby is there. That's not me. So I was a little thrown off when 1) I started pushing with only nurses in the room and 2) they told me to stop pushing because we needed to wait for the doctor. I kept thinking...aren't we doing this on my time?? Nope. You go when the doctor shows up, unless the baby is literally being born that minute. It adds even more anticipation for the moment you've been waiting for for nine months!

5. You'll likely tear down there
I think I knew about this one, but maybe some of you girls don't. Usually with the first baby you are not stretched out enough for a human head to exit your birth canal, so your body has to give itself some extra space. It's nothing to get super worried about though because the doctor will give you some stitches and your body will heal itself. I only had minor tears with my deliveries and I know some can be more severe, so I have no idea what those feel like. I've also heard that if you don't have an epidural the shot they give you to numb before the stitches hurts like crazy.

6. The nurse will knead your uterus
This was one of those moments like "What are you doing??!!" After you've had the baby the nurse will seriously knead your uterus. They push on it to get all of the extra blood out so you don't clot or something (not really sure why they do it, but I'm telling you so you know!) It hurts so be aware.

7. You'll have terrible after-cramps
I was also not expecting this at all but as soon as I started breastfeeding baby (like an hour after giving birth) I started feeling those all-too-familiar menstrual cramps that had been non-existent for nine months. Basically nursing sends a signal to your uterus to start contracting back to it's pre-baby size. Pretty cool, but also waaaay painful. And it gets worse with each baby. The first time was actually manageable; nothing worse than my monthly cramps. With baby #2 I thought I was going to die. The pain was super intense and is similar to contractions from what I've heard. So grateful I never feel those (thank you epidural).

8. You're going to bleed
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but I wasn't prepared for the amount or the length of the bleeding. You haven't had a period in nine months so Mother Nature gives you a month-long one. Not really, but kind of. I spotted for 6 weeks after baby #2 and it was super annoying. But the bleeding in the hospital is intense and messy so be sure you're checking it often. Especially for large clots. But don't worry, your nurse will be checking your bleeding as well. Which leads me to my next point...

9. You'll be wearing a diaper
Not one like your baby, but the biggest maxi pads you've ever seen. They're like the length of your arm. HUGE. But so effective. You'll have those and some really sexy mesh underwear. It sounds so unattractive but you don't want to be wearing anything nice after birth. It will get destroyed. Also, they should give you some witch hazel pads, an ice glove, and a really nice calming spray for the stitched area.

10. The first bowel movement is terrible
This is the grossest part, but I feel like I have to warn you. The first bowel movement is a nightmare. I was feeling pretty good going home from the hospital, but then I realized I needed to go #2 and I was scared. Scared because I thought I was going to rip my stitches!! It was so painful and terrible for a few days but it finally passed and I could function like normal again. The doctors tell you that you can't rip your stitches, but I've heard of some girls who have. So fair warning! (see my tips to avoid this below)

Now that I've scared you about giving birth (hopefully not!), I'm going to share my tips for getting through all of the downsides of having a baby. 

It's totally OK to send the baby to the nursery...
In fact, I'm soooo glad I did with both of my babies because both of them had problems at birth. I am 100% positive that their lives were saved because the nurses caught the problems right away. I don't even want to think about what would've happened if they stopped breathing in our room or we took them home and they were sick. I just feel so much safer having a trained professional watching over my baby while I sleep. Plus, take advantage of the chance to sleep quietly! You're not going to get that at home.

Take your pain meds
Remember those after-cramps I talked about? I didn't take the stronger pain meds with baby #2 because I thought I could handle it. I was kicking myself for not taking them as I was writhing through the pain. Just take the meds. You'll feel so much better if you do. Don't go overboard or anything. Just take what the nurse tells you too when she tells you too. 

Ask for prune juice
And about the bowel movement fiasco...ask for prune juice! My nurse was so on top of this with my second delivery and basically forced me to drink some and I was so glad that she did. It was much easier the second time. No pain. No thoughts of ripping my stitches. They'll also give you a stool softener, but the pain meds can make you constipated so they kind of cancel out. The prune juice helps get things moving!

Take what you can
Those maxi pads, the mesh undies, the magic spray. Take it all! They don't sell the hospital grade stuff at the store, so have them restock your bathroom before you leave and then take it with you! 

I hope this list is helpful! Having a baby is a beautiful and spiritual experience and I don't want to downplay that at all. I just want you to be aware so you're not caught off guard and can really enjoy giving birth! 

Was there anything you didn't know about? 

Everything They Don't Tell You About Your 6 Weeks Postpartum
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I've also got some healthy meal ideas for getting back on track after baby

And if you need a workout routine, this is the one I used to lose 15 pounds of baby weight

After baby comes, here's 12 affordable nursing-friendly dresses

And 13 creative Monthly Baby Photo Ideas 


  1. I LOVE this post! I didn't push for very long for either of my kids...less than an hour each! But, I was on an epidural...I had to use oxygen because holding my breath made me light headed....with my second, I threw up as soon as the epidural got put in. I was soooo scared, both times to have my first bowel movement because I tore both times, too. One thing I might add is that to remember every pregnancy is different, so you may bleed a whole let less with your second than your first (I spotted all six weeks with my first, but stopped bleeding after 3 with my second).

    1. Such a good point! Every pregnancy is so different! So yes the bleeding definitely changed between my first and second. I just had a mom recommend milk of magnesia for the bowel movements and I'm definitely trying that next time!

  2. Oh man, the things you don't know ahead of time! I pushed for two and a half hours and toy didn't expect to feel all that pressure because I had an epidural. Thank you Jesus I didn't tear but I did have a postpartum hemhorrage when my daughter was TEN days old! Yet another thing no one tells you is even a possibility. I'm sure this post will both set some soon to be mamas at ease as well as terrify them! Haha! But it's always nice to know what is coming.

    1. That is crazy mama! So many unexpected things can happen! Ha ha I'm sure it will scare some. I wish I had known these things before!

  3. I loved reading this! The other thing I wasn't prepared for was how much breastfeeding hurts. I had both my kids in different hospitals and I think the birth experience was very different because of the different hospital policies and staff. The nurses with my second were so much nicer and they didn't restrict my food during labor so it made everything better!

    1. It does hurt! I can totally see why some moms give up! I agree too. Each hospital definitely has it's own experience.

  4. I loved reading this and your honesty!! These are wonderful tips to take with me during my journey. I found out a couple weeks back that I'm expecting my very first little one. I appreciate you sharing and look forward to more wonderful blogs ahead!!

    1. That is so exciting Amy! Congrats! I'm glad this post wash helpful! Glad to have you!

  5. Thank you for this! I am due next month with my first. As a typical type A personality, I am freaking out! But super excited of course. I am planning on a natural birth (hopefully) and I feel like I need to prepare myself for the worst pain in my life. haha. Thanks again for these wonderful sneakpeeks!

    1. I am so excited for you! You will do great mama! Good luck with the natural birth and I hope these tips help you prepare :)

  6. You forgot nipples Haha your nipples WILL kill you (unless you were breastfeeding during pregnancy). So there you are, cringing when your baby latches after slathering gobs and GOBS of lanolin on WHILE dealing with the cramping.

    You WILL stare in amazement at your boobs the first time you see them after your milk comes in. And then...OMG OWWWW!!

    1. You are so right!!! There's so many things that happen in the first few weeks too so I added the nipples one to another post! It's live today if you want to check it out ;)

  7. I'm so scared, more like mortally petrified to give birth. Reading how other woman have survived it always gives me a bit of support. Thanks for sharing the "not so pretty side"... It's the exact read and tips I was looking for. I'm not going natural that's for sure, I'll walk in backwards yelling for that epidural LOL!

    1. You will do great mama!! Seriously that epidural is amazing! And honestly most of these things are totally manageable with some pain medication! So glad you found this helpful!

  8. The nurse pushing on your uterus is a must and if it doesn't hurt, they need to dig in harder. They are checking the position and firmness of the uterus and keep track of any gushing blood and clots that might be expelled in the process. It will be every 15 minutes for an hour, 30 minutes for an hour and then every hour for 2 hours and then every shift change until you go home. A boggy or displaced uterus can be dangerous. Even though it is uncomfortable, breath and let them get in there.

  9. It's amazing how different your experience in the hospital was compared to my home birth. I literally didn't do any active pushing. I think that's what prevented any tearing. I let my body do the pushing on its own. And my midwife didn't go pushing hard on my uterus afterward. She was super gentle and had me breathing while she assessed the size and position of my uterus each time. I don't understand why baby has to come on the doctors time instead of your body's time. It's bizarre to me that the hospitals have so many protocols for something our bodies were made to do on their own. I'm not judging you for having a hospital birth. You seem super comfortable with the care you received and that's great. I just don't understand western medicine much.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience Safire! It is true how each birth can be so different! I'm so glad you enjoyed your home birth. I have a few friends who enjoy doing it that way too!


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