The other day I was texting with a brand-new mother friend and she told me “This is hard. I’m pretty freaked out.”
Most pregnant women spend months reading about childbirth: what it feels like, how to deal with the pain, how long it might take, and everything in between. What the recovery is like post-partum is often treated like an afterthought; they treat the childbirth experience like the war when in fact, it’s only just the opening salvo. Childbirth lasts at most a day or two, but the most difficult of the post-partum recovery time lasts days and weeks.
These are the top ten things nobody tells you about your recovery after you have a baby.
1. Breast-feeding isn’t easy at first, and it certainly isn’t magical.
If you stick with it, breast feeding is the ideal way to feed your child in almost all circumstances: it’s free, readily available, nutritious and as an added bonus, nursing helps speed along weight loss. Unfortunately, the majority of women give up within a few weeks, and for good reason. It’s hard. I gave birth naturally, and despite that I have to say that the first two weeks of breast feeding were more painful than childbirth. I screamed, I cried, I dreaded nursing.
Unfortunately, I was doing so up to every other hour, so I dreaded basically every waking moment until I called a lactation consultant to help deal with the pain that I was experiencing every time I nursed. My number one piece of advice since that experience that I give to expecting mothers is to pick out a lactation consultant before you give birth and before you may need her services. You don’t want to be Googling on your phone after five days of no sleep through your and your baby’s tears.
2. You Will Bleed. A lot. For a long time.
The hospital sends you home with pads so thick you may as well be wearing adult diapers. You will take more than you think you need and then end up buying more when that hospital stockpile runs out. You will find yourself on Google searching “hemorrhage post-partum” and “how long will I bleed after childbirth?” several dozen times.
You will call your doctor or midwife and insist that this isn’t normal, that there must be something wrong. In all likelihood there isn’t (that shouldn’t stop you from calling, though), you just really weren’t expecting to lose what feels like all of the blood in your body in the weeks after giving birth.