|I already look tired and it is only the 1st day :o)|
When I had my first child, I was surprised about the things no one told me about. Moms would tell me how painful labor could be and to enjoy every moment of their infancy because time flies, but they left out some important bits and pieces of information.
1. Breastfeeding hurts. I am a big proponent of breastfeeding, but I often hear other breastfeeding proponents say that it is not suppose to hurt. I think this is misleading. I took all the breasfeeding classes, read all the books, watched videos, and for both my children that first two weeks it was excruciatingly painful. Yes, I made sure the baby was latching on right. With my first, I had the lactation consultant observe me to make sure I was using the right technique. I am a very methodical person and I am sure I was doing it “right” but the idea that it is not suppose to hurt makes you feel inadequate and frustrated when it does. I am sure it doesn’t hurt for some people, but for others, it can hurt, and it can be very painful.
There are certainly things you can do to make it less painful and having the baby latch on right makes a big difference, but if you are new to breastfeeding and it is hurting, you are not alone. Keep working on the technique and keep a tube of Lansinoh around. Soon enough your breasts get used to it and it does eventually stop hurting. In the end all that pain will be well worth it. You are saving yourself hours at the doctors office and saving money on formula and future healthcare costs for your kids.
2. The recovery period after labor is like going through boot camp. Everything is sore and you are sleep deprived most of the time. Labor is painful, but the recovery period is no walk in the park either. You will most likely be in a lot of pain. It hurts to sit up, it hurts to walk, and for the first few days you will not want to do anything but lay in bed. However, a hungry baby will make sure you do anything but that. If you are breastfeeding, you are feeding your baby about every 2 to 2.5 hours for the first two weeks. If you are lucky, you might get 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep after a month, but many moms do not experience that until several months later. You are hurting, you are so tired, but you can’t fall asleep because that little tiny baby needs you.
Amazingly, however, you get through it. I am the type of person that cannot function without a full seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Somehow my body adjusted and I was able to work through the sleep deprivation. God has given women this incredible strength to not only go through labor but to survive the recovery period while still taking care of the needs of their children. There are some women that have to go back to work after a few days. They are amazing! So if you are pregnant, be ready to accept all the help that you can get postpartum! You will be thankful for it! If you will not have help postpartum, start stacking up the frozen dinners now and clean the house now. Cleaning and cooking will be the last thing you will want to do when the baby arrives. And yes, it is okay for the house to be a mess when the baby is here. Just try to get as much rest that you can while the baby is sleeping and enjoy your baby.
3. Don’t make it a party, but have someone else in the delivery room with you in addition to your husband. Don’t get my wrong, my husband was great, but sometimes you just need a woman there too, especially if they have been through this before. Husbands can sometimes get nervous or are too focused on being there for you that they forget about other things. During my first delivery, I did not have anyone else there other than hubby and looking back, I wish I had. I was thankful for my mom this second time around. For example, she remembered to take pictures of the baby even though hubby completely forgot because he was holding my hand the whole time. In addition, it is nice to have someone that can run out of the room to get you something while the other stays and holds your hand. So whether it be your mom or your best friend, consider having another person there.
4. You do NOT want a lot of visitors postpartum. Thankfully, I knew this before having my first baby, but I have had friends who did not think about this pre-pregnancy and then regreted it afterwards. It is not wise, at least not for the first few days. This can be especially true if you have a big family. Everybody wants to be there to see the baby and who can blame them. If they come, stay for a few minutes and leave, that is great. However, sometimes you will have visitors at the hospital or at home that want to stay for extended periods of time and you will feel the pressure to entertain.
Before that baby is born it seems like a great idea, but after the fact you will find that those visitors are keeping you from getting much needed sleep. Make it clear before hand to all family and friends when you will be receiving visitors. If you are worried about offending someone, let your spouse, significant other, or whoever is helping you be the “bad guy.” Where I delivered, the nurses actually volunteered to kick people out if they stayed too long so that the new moms could get some sleep. I never had to use them, but it was nice knowing that option was there.
5. You lose your hair postpartum. At about three months after labor, you will find yourself losing handfuls of hair. Do not panic! You are not sick. You do not have some awful disease. This is normal. While you are pregnant your hair is thick and beautiful but postpartum you lose that extra hair. The hair loss will last for awhile, but you should be back to your pre-pregnancy beauty by your child’s first year. My hair dresser has suggested to brush the hair regularly to stimulate new hair growth. Constant brushing also removes all the loose hair in the bathroom or bedroom instead of falling on baby or that meal you are trying to prepare. Believe it or not, strands of hair can sometimes wrap itself around baby’s toes or fingers so brush often!
IT IS ALL WORTH IT! I sometimes think that other moms did not tell me these things because you really do forget all the hard times. You love your children so much, you really do not think about the difficulties you endured getting there. I just happen to be going through this right now so it is fresh in my head. In the end, all of us moms would do it all over again if we had to.
I would certainly welcome any comments from other moms on things they wish someone had told them before having their baby or things that took them by surprise.