8 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Having a Baby

With the birth of your first, the lessons come fast and hard. Before you try to cram that bread loaf of a maxi-pad into your standard-sized Fruit of the Looms, here are 8 things I wished I’d known about having a baby.

1. Your water doesn’t just break and then stop

water breaking dam

Once it breaks, you’re essentially a leaky faucet until the baby arrives. This probably isn’t so noticeable if you’re already in the thick of labor when it happens, but if you happen to be washing dishes or doing something equally vertical at the time, with the baby not making an appearance until 14 hours later (I speak from experience here), you’re going to feel chronically damp for a while.


2. Giant maxi pads.

Related to #1, the maxi pads you’ll be offered at the hospital are more like throw pillows for your crotch.How do you fit those into your normal panties, you might reasonably ask? You don’t. Instead, you’ll be given something that looks like a pair of stretchy mesh hotpants. You’ll never feel sexier, or more beautiful, than when you wrangle those on and shove that throw pillow in there.


3. Your partner may be a Godsend or a pain in your ass.

You may not want to be touched during labor

In the thick of labor, you may want your partner to give you backrubs, forehead kisses, or reassuring hand squeezes. Alternately, you may want the love of your life to just leave you the hell alone. Either is normal, but it’s a good idea to give said partner a heads-up in advance so that you’re not dealing, between contractions, with a grumpy person in the corner of the delivery room muttering, “What did I do?”


4. Watching the contraction monitor isn’t always helpful.

It’s best not to watch the contraction monitor if you can help it, or the faux-cheery faces of your partner and the delivery room nurse, who will be glued to the monitors like must-see TV and will know precisely how bad the next wave is going to be. You’ll know soon enough.


5. You might be kneaded like a ball of dough.

Right after you deliver your baby, that same nurse who’s encouraged and shepherded you through the entire ordeal will begin kneading on your abdomen like it’s the world’s most stubborn ball of dough to help loosen up the placenta. This may hurt almost as much as the labor itself did and is the ultimate embodiment of being kicked when you’re down. Try to remember that she’s not, in fact, a sadist (even though it may briefly feel that way).


6. It isn’t always pretty.

Don’t be alarmed if the birthing-room bathroom resembles a gory crime scene shortly after you deliver your bundle of joy. This is normal.


7. You will continue to be poked and prodded.

round the clock medical checks in the hospital after having a baby

Even if you enjoy a blissfully uncomplicated birth, the nurses will not leave you and your baby to peacefully sleep off the exciting events of the day. Expect to be roused at least every few hours for vital stats. (We had one nurse who was particularly fond of weighing the baby in the middle of the night, preferably after she’d just been wrapped into a fresh diaper and swaddle that both needed to be completely removed for the weighing. The idea of disrobing and weighing the baby during daylight hours – you know, when we were all awake – was simply a nonstarter, for some reason.)


8. The third person begins.

Regardless of how much you swear up and down you’ll never do this, within a few hours of your child’s birth you will begin speaking in the third person (“Mommy loves you soooo much!”), like Bob Dole. If anyone knows when this stops, please let me know.

Related:  The 5 Types of New Mom Fatigue

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  • Hahaha #1 & #6… I wish I had read this before I had my first baby a few weeks ago. I was always under the impression that water breaking was kind of a "one-and-done" deal… It took me like 15 minutes to walk from my car to the hospital entrance because I was getting gushes with every step I took. & #6… I distinctly remember telling the nurse who helped me to the bathroom, "Oh my God, it looks like a murder scene in here!"

  • My not quite mother in law kept rubbing my hairy legs during contractions. It was all i could do to not rip her head off and ask the man to please tell her to fucking stop!

  • Anus pain. I was amazed by how much contractions made my bum hurt! And pushing that kiddo out?! Holy crap (pun intended) did that hurt my arse. I had to get stitches in my perenium and was really swollen and still the worst part is how sore my bum is!

    I expected my vag and my perenium to hurt, but NOT my arse. We need an A.P.B. on this.

  • I'm with Lisa! Soo happy for my homebirth. I had hospital births and went through all that crap mentioned. I chillaxed, I had a baby, we enjoyed each other, then napped in our own bed for 6 hours alternately nursing.

  • Glad I had homebirths. Nobody to wake me through the night except the baby!

    And Depends are so much easier in the early days of heavy bleeding anyways. No leaking all over the bedsheets moving around nursing the baby at night.

  • Absolutely great! I had a great, uncomplicated labor aside from two things that completely took me by surprise – 1), the sharp pain when the doctor was "massaging" my abdomen right after I delivered my twins to help with the placenta (I am pretty sure I slapped her hand away at least once!) and 2), the pain associated with getting the epidural. Its a conspiracy that they don't tell you the procedure to stick a flexible needle that close to your spinal column to deliver pain medication will hurt that much, which is ironic. I especially loved in when the anesthesiologist said "Now try not to move". He must have known exactly what I was thinking of doing to him at that very moment…

  • The nurses at our hospital kept "reminding" me to use the peripads (this is code for "using the Force to influence my addled post-pregnancy brain"), even though they never brought me any more after I ran out and I ended up having to use the regular ones that were the size of my head. Damn nurses.

    The last one, I know, never goes away. My 48 year old mother still does it to me. :

  • This kinda made me glad I had a c-section. I'm pushing for midwife center for the second kid…and vbac. Crazy 5 weeks postpartum and thinking about a second. hehe I did a "things I didn't know about C-sections" for my blog.

  • Haha. Oh my gosh, that was awesome. The Placenta photo is the best…I will be totally thinking of that when the nurse starts her kneading, so I will be smiling inside while I am crying and yelling outside. 🙂

  • Thanks so much for the guest post slot, Amy – love the pix you added! (I definitely felt very much like that snarling Chihuahua during labor.)

    Jessica, I would recommend packing a few of your own pads – you may well need a few of those big throw pillows for a while, but if you want to downgrade later on, you'll be ready. (If my hospital had any smaller pads available, I never saw them…)

  • Exactly what I was thinking! I needed a little levity (and a reminder of the hospital horrors) today as I'm two days past due! This was hilarious!

  • Funny but oh-so-true!! 40 weeks today… I need a little humor as this stubborn little girl has shown no signs of showing up any time soon!

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