When it comes to having a family of your own, your baby books, the obstetrician, even your closest mum mates may have forgotten to share with you a few post-partum truths.
I couldn't believe that my newfound besties, sleep guru Tizzie Hall, Midwife Cath and the Baby Bunting shop assistant (who I purchase from weekly), had neglected to give me the heads-up on what to expect from those first few days in hospital. Maybe this wasn't stuff I wanted to hear? But, really, what were they thinking?
As a new mum, this was stuff I NEEDED to know!
After vocalising the post-birth surprises I'd encountered with 10 other new mums, they agreed that they, like me, felt completely unprepared for navigating those first few days postpartum (despite packing their hospital bags multiple times).
Here's what those new mums, and myself, want everyone out there who's expecting to know. Prepare yourself for a cringe-worthy overshare...
No mum I spoke to expected to wake up with a tidy six-pack the next day. However, the post-partum bod of this new mum came as a surprise.
"I remember plunging my hand into my jiggly stomach, amazed as it was completely absorbed by the mass and disappeared altogether from view," she says.
"The shock of carrying all that excess fluid and weight on my stomach post-birth was unforgettable."
^^ Giving birth is kind of a big deal, ladies. Own it.
Get ready to become a mummy. Literally!
"The first few days' post-birth you are mummified in pads," one new mum told me. "Breast pads, maternity pads, C-section dressings and, most awkward of all, the huge bed pad you heavily bleed on post-birth."
"Three weeks postpartum and I'm still experiencing the mother of all periods."
According to Melbourne-based midwife Clea Adams, you should expect to experience postpartum bleeding after delivery.
"Regardless of whether you plan on having a caesarean section or a natural birth; no new mother can avoid post-partum bleeding unfortunately. Expect vaginal bleeding for 4-6 weeks." Adams explains.
All 10 women agreed that learning to breastfeed was seriously hard work. Attempting to master all the different positions can be more challenging than Kama Sutra!
One new mum described the first few days of breastfeeding as excruciating.
"I accidently sprayed my babies face with blood when my nipples cracked from trying to feed her," she reveals.
"I'll never forget the rawness whilst my nipples were toughening up."
^^ My thoughts exactly.
While big boobs don't really sound that surprising postpartum, the uncomfortable pains that come with engorged breasts can be distressing for any first-time mum.
"When my milk came in, my breasts were engorged, painful and clawed with stretchmarks," a mum tells us. "They felt as if they were going to explode. My nipples were unrecognisable!"
"If that wasn't shocking enough, I was then caught making small talk with a midwife as she 'milked' me to let down some of the pressure," she continues.
^^ It's funny 'cos it's true!
Sorry to confirm the worst but that pain you think you feel when giving birth can be followed with more pain…
Midwife Adams explains that after-pains are contractions of your uterus as it returns to its pre-pregnancy size, following the delivery of your baby.
One mum described how she felt that she'd finished all the hard work when the after-pains well and truly kicked in.
"The sharp painful contractions immediately flashed me back to labour," she says.
"I was frozen in pain, speechless and had no idea why. I'd never heard of after-pains."
Out of the 10 mums I spoke to, five experienced postpartum sweating. And, as midwife Clea Adams tells me, most new mothers experience this at night.
"In the weeks after giving birth, especially at night, many new mothers experience postpartum sweating," she says.
"Sweating is one of the ways your body gets rid of the extra water retained during pregnancy."
^^ Blanch gets it.
Want to learn more about what happens to your body when you have a baby? Visit NSW Health's Having A Baby website for more information. Also, book an appointment with your obstetrician to have all your questions answered.
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