Now this list isn’t here to scare people and it certainly isn’t a moan. These are just the key things I experienced post labour that no one prepared me for and after talking to other new mums, it appears I wasn’t alone.
I got given a lot of ‘advice’ when I was pregnant. People just couldn’t help but offer nuggets of mostly unasked for wisdom, but no-one told me about these things. If you can relate to any of the below, then I hope that this helps you.
- How intense breastfeeding is – you will probably hear that breastfeeding is tricky and that latching on is difficult, but what you don’t hear is how demanding it is on you. Your boobs are a 24/7 cafe and as such, taking time out is tough. You will have to get out of the bath after just five minutes, you will be glued to the sofa for four hours (and all that you want is some water and a snack but cant get them), you will be woken up by your partner who feels awful to do it but also helpless in the boob department . Being on demand constantly is tough so don’t beat yourself up if you struggle and instead try to focus on the positives of breastfeeding. It does get easier as your confidence grows.
- How useful a sling is – you may got told about the benefits of sling from a bonding perspective, but hands free life as a new mum for an hour or two a day can give you some time to be you again, but with the benefit of knowing your baby is safe and secure. They will most likely sleep the whole time they are in the sling which also means you know you have a break from feeding, changing and of course, the crying.
- That the baby will need to sleep on you/your partner for the first week – this is where the sleep deprevation is at its worse, although the feeling of it probably won’t kick in for a few days. Your baby needs your body warmth and to be close to you as life post womb is scary. You and your partner will be sleeping in shifts that first week while the other holds baby whilst having to stay awake. Buy magazines, charge your phone, and fuel up.
- Your baby will punch your tender nipples – your boobs and nipples will be ridicuously tender. You won’t even be able to wrap a towel around yourself or put on a bra without breast pads. Yet your baby will flail their arms around so be prepared to yelp in pain and discomfort when the inevitable happens.
- Sleeping when your baby sleeps during the day doesn’t happen – the last thing you can do with a new baby is relax enough to sleep when they aren’t in your arms. You will be very sleep deprived, but won’t be able to switch to sleeping mode the second they sleep. If you are alone with the baby, as mentioned above, they need to be held which means you need to stay awake.
- You will feel incredibly protective over your baby – you may hear that there is nothing like the instant love you feel and that is so true, but what comes with this is the need to protect them. You have just spent nine months keeping them safe and sound inside you, but now they are here, you can no longer be their protector 24/7. You will need to understand that your partner or friends and family may not do things the way that you would, but it doesn’t mean they are doing them wrong or will harm baby. I found it so tough letting Dunc bath Wilf alone, I was so worried as he wanted to do it his own way. I had to leave the room as I was being too critical and getting in the way of their bonding time. Dads need to find their own way and it took me time to realise that.
- The pain you feel post labour goes on and on – it wasn’t until I passed the two week mark that I was able to stand or walk for more than ten minutes without feeling pain down there. I felt bruised and the second I did too much (read, hanging clothes out to dry) I had shooting pains in a very sensitive area. Now I understood that labour would be traumatic, but I wasn’t prepared for my inability to stand or walk for the first five or six hours, and that I would feel this pain, just less intense for those first weeks. Also, that first pee post labour. Wow, that is intense. Sitting down and getting back up is difficult, but one day you will realise that you feel pretty much back to normal again. I would also like to point out that I had a fairly ‘easy’ labour, it wasn’t very long and I didn’t need stitches.
- How much your baby wants to be held – I touched on this above with regards to sleeping, however, just generally your baby needs you and your partner. A newborn can’t be spoilt by being held so don’t even worry about routines, etc. They just need you and to feel your warmth and heartbeat. These first weeks of newborn snuggles go so quickly so just soak it up and curl up on the sofa as a new family.
If you can relate to any of this it is totally normal so please don’t worry. This is a rollercoaster of a time; your hormones are all over the place, you will celebrate a three hour sleep, your body has essentially gone through a trauma and you have this beautiful and seemingly fragile baby and it is down to you to look after them. Life will never be the same and trust me, you couldn’t feel happier about it!