Updated: Apr 17
Nobody tells you what is going to happen once you have had your little bundle of joy. Well some people probably do tell you and I am sure it is touched upon during your NCT or NHS antenatal classes, but you probably don't hear it. You don't hear it because you are so busy concentrating on the big day. On the day you meet your new baby. On the day when you need to remember your breathing and many many other things. You don't really think much past that day (apart from getting the nursery ready and buying every possible thing you could need for your little one).
Having your baby is an amazing feeling. When they first place the little bundle in your arms and you look at this tiny creature you created from scratch yourselves.
What you might not be prepared for is all the things that happen to your body afterwards. You grew the baby for 9 months and now your body will take a while to get back to normal (not that it ever will be the same after having a baby :) )
You will feel like you are leaking all over. There is the obvious leaking down below, you will need to have industrial size pads and using disposable knickers in the first few days is a great idea, if you are not a fan of the idea of paper knickers get a pack of cheap ones from Primark and chuck them away when needed. You will have plenty other things to worry about at the time.
You will leak from your boobs, not straight away but once the milk comes in. It is such a weird sensation, you will leak at the sound of your baby's crying, you will leak when you see something super cute or super sad. You might discover that you need to sleep in a breastfeeding bra with pads in and yet you might still wake up soaked in milk. And it is not only your boobs that will leak. Your eyes will spontaneously leak too.
You will experience such a massive surge of hormones. There are the happy hormones, the excitement, the love. But there is also what is known as the Baby Blues. You will feel very emotional, you might feel really sad, you might cry. You will feel overwhelming responsibility for this tiny little human who is completely dependant on you. You might feel resentment for having to give up who you were to become a mummy. I have asked new mums what they wished someone has told them, this response really rang true with me.
That you will have an emotional meltdown a few days after birth. Don’t panic or think you are abnormal, it is your body releasing all the hormones. Warn your husband that this will come so that he is also prepared. You may also feel really sad about the loss of your old life, this happened quite quickly for me and I felt very guilty about it and torn as to why I didn’t feel all mushy about my baby. I love my daughter more than anything in the world but I am also still my own person, a career woman, a good friend and someone who wants other things out of life than just being a mom. It’s ok to feel this way.
It is the most natural thing in the world right? Well, you do have to learn how to pop your baby on the right way and sometimes it does take a while to learn. It's not just you who has to learn. Your baby does too. Some babies are better at it than others. My son was excellent and knew what to do. Both my girls were not. It took us a while. It took expressing (when you end up feeling like a dairy cow :/ but you do it because you want the best for your baby) and sleepless nights and tears. Mainly mine and a lot of them. I felt like a failure for not being able to sustain my babies with the best thing there is for them. It took my husband to tell me that the best thing for my baby is a happy mum. To give the babies a bottle if it helps. To stop stressing. I did, and we were a lot more relaxed. Both the babies and I. We later found out that our youngest had tongue tie (undiagnosed) and even after having it snipped breastfeeding just was not happening. So what I am trying to say is... Ask for help. Ask for help in the hospital if you are struggling to get the hang of it. It can take a while to learn. Don't be hard on yourself. Ask for help when you get home. Be prepared that it can hurt. It will hurt your boobs, it will hurt in your belly as your uterus contracts. You will feel hungry, like all the time (and you will crave things :) like chocolate :D). You will feel really thirsty so drink loads, if you don't feel thirsty, still drink loads, your body needs it and you might end up with constipation if you don't and you really, really don't need that on top of everything else.
And last but not least, IF you feel that you can't manage, if you feel that breastfeeding is not for you, then don't beat yourself up. Just go with what works for you and your baby. Both of you being happy is what matters the most.
You are quite likely to have stitches down below, or across your tummy. They hurt but it is not too bad. You do need to keep the ones down below clean. Shower a few times a day and pat dry, even better trick is to use the hairdryer on cold setting. Going to toilet for the first time after the stitches is nerve wracking but you will be fine. Just make sure you drink loads. My mum suggested having a teaspoon of olive oil with my meals to keep things moving ok :D
There are plenty of suggestions out there, like using diluted tea tree oil to wash the area to help healing. You can try Arnica tablets for healing.
If something does not feel right, then do speak to your midwife or GP. Don't think it's nothing. If you are worried, ask for help. You need to look after your baby and you need to be right yourself to be able to do that.
Cuddle your baby. They want it, they need it. You can't really spoil a newborn baby with cuddles. Look up what is called The 4th trimester. Babies are born too early to care for themselves and they need to feel you near them. I used a sling wrap as that freed my hands to look after my other kiddies. My babies used to love sleeping in the sling on me. Your baby was used to being inside you and hearing your heart 24/7 so even if you were to cuddle them for 12 hours non stop it is still a 50% drop to what they were used to. :)
And most of all, even when things get really, really tough... Ask for help, have the cry, let it out, cuddle your baby. Do whatever feels right for you. Remember this is all just a phase. The time they are snuggled up in your arms passes ever so fast.