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 hours...you 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!
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