Things that happen during and post childbirth that no one tells you
Growing a human person inside of you is beautiful, surreal, miraculous, and completely life-changing. It’s also the weirdest thing ever. For 10 months (whoever started the nine month rumor has clearly never been pregnant), your body somehow knows how to develop a living, breathing, thinking, feeling human being. And then when it’s time, your body knows what to do to get the baby out of you.
Since childbirth has been happening since the beginning of people, we all know the basics of how it works. But there’s so much more to pregnancy and postpartum that no one really talks about. I’m familiar with some of those things, because I just went through it last week.
On April 17th, I gave birth to the coolest baby girl in the whole world (but like, I might be biased). The experience was magical, and baby Eloise is perfect. But there are some things that happened along the way that caught me way off guard, and I’m going to share those things with you. Not to scare you, but to prepare you. Because seriously, WTF?
The doctor or midwife will massage your perineum.
The perineum is the area between your vagina hole and your butt hole that you’ve probably never thought about. It needs to be stretched out to prevent tearing or an episiotomy during delivery. Your partner can also massage the area during the weeks leading up to delivery, which could be a good time to practice your breathing technique. Because holy ouch.
Epidurals don’t always work.
They certainly help a lot, but chances are you’ll still feel some pain and intense pressure. Since your legs will be numb, you won’t be able to get out of bed, which could make contractions more uncomfortable. Oh, and you’ll need to be catheterized to pee. But you guys, when you’re in it, you probably won’t care about anything else other than relieving the pain. Or at least that’s how I felt.
Your baby’s heart rate might drop during contractions.
It’s totally normal, but scary AF. Nurses will rush into the room, put an oxygen mask on your face, and urgently ask you to move from side to side until the heart rate goes back to normal. Moving your body with an epidural isn’t easy — you know, because of the whole body-being-numb thing. But at that point, it’s about the baby, not you. #motherhood
Pushing is the most intense pressure you’ll likely ever feel down there.
Seriously, it sucks. It feels like you have to take the biggest poop of your entire life. And that’s exactly how you’ll need to push — as if you’re pooping. The pressure is pretty gnarly, but there’s a light at the end of the pressure tunnel — a baby!
Breastfeeding isn’t a sure thing.
There are a million reasons why breastfeeding might be hard or might not work at all. Sometimes babies latch right away, and that’s beautiful. Other times, it takes some practice. The baby is learning how to breastfeed right along with you.
Second night syndrome.
I had never heard of this phenomenon until Eloise’s second night on Earth. A nurse handed me and my wife a brochure and told us to read it (it’s so legit, there’s an actual brochure about it). On the second night of their lives, babies realize they aren’t in the womb anymore. Instead, they’re being handled by strangers, sleeping in a bassinet with clothes on, and far away from the soothing sounds of your heartbeat. And they freak the eff out. Here’s what to do to get through it without losing your damn mind.
After the baby is born, I’m sorry to report that your uterus contractions aren’t over. While you’re breastfeeding (or just any time it feels like it), your uterus will contract. It’s actually a good thing and means it’s slowly shrinking back down to its pre-birth size. But still, not a fun surprise when you thought you were done with uterus pains.
Belly button smell.
The umbilical cord stump will remain attached to your baby’s belly button for around seven to 21 days, according to Baby Center. But in the meantime, it might smell like straight up dead bird because of the whole rotting flesh thing.
Leakage, and lots of it.
You’ll be wearing a pad (a ridiculously large one) for a few weeks postpartum. And by a few, I mean possibly up to six weeks. And the stuff coming out of you will smell. Bad. Sorry.
Boob massages are the new back massage.
Except way less relaxing. Milk ducts can get clogged, which can lead to mastitis. So you or your partner will need to massage your boobs to make sure you release any milk that’s stuck. #romance
Postpartum hormones are all over the place. And the result? Night sweats. But not just casual, light sweating. It’s the kind of sweat that makes you feel like you just ran a 10k, but without leaving your bed. (TBH, that’s my ideal 10k).
Babies shed their skin.
Like lizards, but cuter.
Your nurse will give you a stool softener.
For the love of god, take one every day for at least a week. If your perineum ripped, the last thing you’ll want to deal with is a big ol’ poop coming out and popping your stitches.
Babies are born with long-ish nails.
They’ve had a lot of time to grow, and it’ll take you just as much time to cut them, because cutting tiny fingernails is SO SCARY.
When you change a diaper, always replace it with another diaper IMMEDIATELY. It only took Eloise five days to projectile poop. It was like a Super Soaker full of kaka that spared nothing in its path.
Babies can suck harder than a Dyson.
Nipple cream, nipple cream, nipple cream. I find Lanolin or Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter to work great, but the key is making sure your baby’s latch is solid to prevent nipple cracking, bleeding, and pain.
Your neck will hurt. A lot.
You probably don’t normally live your life looking down, but that all changes once your baby is born. You’ll be watching her closely to make sure she’s eating enough, and you’ll also likely be dealing with pads and your whole vagina situation. My advice? Invest in a heating pad and hope for the best.
All birthing and post-birthing experience are different for every woman, so don’t be TOO freaked out by this list. But also, do be prepared for some discomfort and pain. All worth it though, right?