It is undeniable that it’s a glorious time to be a mom. Why? Finally new and experienced moms are speaking out about their postpartum experiences and they are as varied as the moms themselves! Knowledge may be power, but it’s also comfort. The more transparency, the easier it can be for moms-to-be to prepare for their new normal. So, with that, let’s talk about six unexpected things that can happen once you bring your baby home.
- Pooping might be scary! Having a baby is a significant event for your body. It can take time for things to, ahem, get back on track. Stool softeners are your friend. If you’re in the hospital, ask for them. If you’re home, send someone out to get them for you. Everything down there will need some time to heal, and the less pressure and pushing, the better.
- You may be extra swollen. You thought you knew swelling as a pregnant person? Get ready, the swelling after labor can rival anything you experienced before. This can be due to a few different things: pushing and IVs. Depending on the type of labor you have, you may have some extra fluids hanging out waiting to be processed by your kidneys. Make sure to elevate, drink water, and reduce sodium intake. If the swelling doesn’t go down in a few days or you’re feeling pain, make sure to contact your doctor or midwife.
- Your uterus can react to the baby’s cries. The baby is out! Everyone is thrilled, but your uterus may be the most excited. It’s just been waiting for the day to return to its original size. This process is called “involution”--and while it sounds like the name of a Leonardo DiCaprio movie, it can be an uncomfortable process. Weirder still, the sound of your baby crying or breastfeeding can trigger these uterine contractions. Nature truly is a genius.
- You may be more hungry than you were while pregnant. Remember how full you felt the last few weeks of pregnancy? All of a sudden, you have a baby and you are categorically less full. Especially if you are breastfeeding, you’ll feel a hunger that you never anticipated--go with it! Remember that it is not advised to diet while breastfeeding and you should always consult a dietitian with specific questions. Learn more about calories and breastfeeding here.
- It may take longer to bring the baby home than you envisioned. About ten percent of babies born in 2017 were preterm and about eight percent were low birth weight. But, babies can be admitted to the NICU for other reasons as well. All of this means there’s a chance your baby may need some extra time and care at the hospital, and those “first days” at home could be potentially without the baby. Reach out to another NICU family for solidarity and support, or join a mom group, it could be a life-saver!
- You may not love the baby, or being a mom. This one is the one that people seem to be most afraid to talk about. This feeling can catch you off guard and make you feel guilty, but it’s not unusual. Bonding doesn’t always happen instantly. It ebbs and flows, breaks around sundown, and challenges you as you are awake yet again for a middle-of-the-night feeding. Listen, just because you don’t feel in love with the baby does not mean you will feel this way forever. Relationships take time. You will get there.