1. You might still look pregnant.
Some of us revel in the beauty and adorableness of being pregnant. Others can’t wait for this phase to end so we can get back to feeling a bit more normal. However, by and large, immediately after giving birth you will still look pregnant, with the exception of those lucky few this doesn’t apply to.
Your body has stretched and grown for nine months and it takes time for everything to shrink back down. It obviously won’t look like a nine-month pregnant belly, but you might feel like you are rocking a three to six months preggo belly after just giving birth. The difference is that now it’s kind of saggy.
Don’t worry, this phase will pass too and your body will slowly adjust. It’s just not an overnight transition. Bring some comfy and loose clothes to wear after birth. You won’t be needing your pre-pregnancy outfits right away. Possibly a disappointing fact, but you’ll be glad you were prepared and not surprised.
2. You will bleed for about four to six weeks.
You’ve done all the hard work. Grown, labored and birthed your baby. Now body has to recover. The bleeding that takes place, called lochia, is part of the process. The placenta detached itself from your uterus and this site now must heal. People compare it to a heavy period that tapers off over the course of four to six weeks. If you notice the bleeding getting heavier, this may be a sign that you need to slow down and take it easier. For any complications, always speak to your care provider.
3. Breastfeeding is not always easy or glamorous. But it’s worth it.
You and the baby are learning something new. Sore nipples, plugged ducts and leaking milk happen.
There is enough to know about breastfeeding to fill books, courses and whole lactation counseling apprenticeships. So please don’t feel shy about asking for help. Women who have support are more likely to succeed at breastfeeding. And once you have the guidance you need, you will most likely be on your way to an easy and enjoyable breastfeeding life.
4. Babies are messy.
They spit up small and they spit up big. They have blowout poops… right after you just put on a clean diaper and outfit. What is a blowout? When the poop is not contained by the diaper and spills out onto their clothing, car seat, bedding or on you! (You’ll laugh later, we promise.) They pee while you are changing them. They drool, and have snotty noses and the messes only get bigger as you head into toddlerhood.
Having burp cloths, wash cloths, wipes or towels around at all times to clean up messes is a good idea. I had a whole stash of soft hand towels that I used for any and everything with my last little one. And we used them ALL the time.
5. Rest and recovery is important.
Your body has been pushed to the utmost during pregnancy, labor and birth. Looking after a newborn is also taxing. It can be easy to forget that it is essential to take care of yourself too.
The common advice we hear is “sleep when the baby sleeps.” We know it’s hard but there is some wisdom to this. Because when that precious baby is awake you are holding, feeding, changing and comforting the baby until the next sleep.
If possible, let others help out with the daily tasks of cooking, cleaning and laundry. Less urgent chores can wait. Give yourself permission to to rest. Your recovery and bonding time is important.
6. It gets easier.
Parenting is life-changing. There is nothing quite like it and all the books, classes and blog posts in the world cannot totally prepare you. Even the best parents in the world are often hard on themselves. Give yourself credit where it’s due and remember that things get easier. You will find your way. Your intuition will guide you. Listen to it and do what is right for you and your family. We know you can do it.