1. You will have a really heavy period.
No matter how you give birth (c-section or va-j) you will have postpartum bleeding. This delightful discharge is called lochia and it sounds about as appealing as it is. It lasts as little as two to three weeks or as long as six weeks after birth. The best part is you’re given giant thunderpads in the hospital because you can’t use tampons during this time (it can introduce bacteria into your healing uterus) so you have the added pleasure of feeling like a 15-year old girl from 1974.
2. Your crotch might be a mess.
You may be dealing with a swollen, stitched up mighty mess that even Stephen King couldn’t dream up. There are a variety of elixirs and contraptions to help ease the horror including sitz baths, frozen bags of peas and a little water bottle that you squirt on yourself while you pee. In my experience I’ve found that it’s best not to look – it was actually worse than I thought it would be. Dear God so bad.
3. You still look pregnant.
You will need maternity clothes after you’ve had this kid because you’ll be sort of second trimester doughy for a while. Ignore the gossip magazines that claim that so-and-so ‘snapped back’ right after giving birth. No matter how slim you are you will have some sort of pooch after you have gotten a person out of your body. It’s totally normal.
4. You might cry. A. LOT.
Some women get off really easy with this one and don’t ride the hormonal roller coaster after they’ve had a baby but for most, it runs the gamut from Niagara Falls boo hoos to full-blown postpartum depression. The tricky thing is that you might not recognize how bad it was until you’re out of it. It’s best to have people that actually know you keep an eye on this one. If they tell you that you’re losing it, you probably are so listen to them and go see your doctor. Nobody wins if you’re miserable.
5. Your hair might fall out.
I know. Don’t you feel pretty now? So here you are all postpartum and doughy and to add insult to injury you might start losing some of your hair. Here you were all excited about your luscious locks while you were pregnant, well, sorry Cinderella but the party is over and the hair fairy wants her glass slippers back. This is one of those wonderful hormone side effects that can come with giving birth. At least there will be less to worry about when pulling your hair up into your new-mom messy bun. (Need some tips for covering up your bitchin’ new bald spot? Check out our post on dealing with hair loss here.)
6. Breastfeeding might be difficult.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, be prepared for a little bit of work. Not everybody has a smooth ride (me included) and it can be anything but the soft, bonding vignettes they plaster all over “Breast is Best” pamphlets. The good news is once you’re over the hump it’s pretty maintenance free and you can never forget your baby’s lunch on the counter. If you have an easy time of it, awesome! Don’t brag though, you’re liable to be beaten to death with Bugaboo strollers by hormonal mothers in the park.
7. You might hate your husband (or partner).
I have two theories of nature. One, babies look like their fathers when they are born so the father is reassured that the baby is his and won’t take off. Two, nature takes care of you not conceiving right after giving birth by making you want to punch in his face every time you see him. Again, it’s probably hormone related. Again, this isn’t always the case but I’m just warning you that you might stare at his peaceful sleeping face at 2am and wonder what the hell the point of him is and how can that son of a bitch just lie there sleeping like while you try to get your baby to sleep for the umpteenth time. You’re not alone and a jury full of mothers with newborns wouldn’t convict you if you bludgeoned him to death with a breast pump. That said, he may be worth keeping around so take a deep breath and ignore the urge……for now.
8. You might be hot.
No, not good hot. Gross, sweaty, fat man hot. Thank your hormones. Once again they may be to blame for giving you hot flashes and making feel like a high-noon hot dog vendor. Nothing says sexy like a woman with 20lbs of extra baby weight, who’s losing her hair and walking around like she just ran for a bus. I’m adding that to my theory of nature’s birth control along with number 7.
9. Hard boobs.
You know those crazy porn boobs you see on some women that are just gigantic and don’t move? No? Well, try skipping a feeding while you’re nursing and you’ll have a pretty good idea what that’s like. It sounds cool but it isn’t so don’t add stripper heels to your registry….well, not for this reason anyway.
10. Pooing is scary.
I saved the best for last, non? No matter what exit your baby used, your BM equipment is close by and you’ll have to use it eventually. I think the phrase “tentative terror” best sums up this act and may I suggest picking out extra names because you’re going to want to name your first poop after you take such tender care bringing into the world. Gross? Sorry. Fact? Yep. That said, you're going to want to make sure you keep the regularity train rolling because you don't want to mess around with postpartum constipation and end up full o' poo.
Haven’t I painted a pretty picture here?
Aren’t you looking forward to all the treats that come with motherhood? Well, thankfully, not all of them happen to everybody and you (and everyone around you) will be so focused on the new little person that you’ll have little time or energy to worry about much else. And hey, who cares, you made a person. A whole person. It doesn’t matter if you’re a surly, bald, sweaty garden slug for a while, you just performed a miracle so unless you’re booked to walk the runway in your underpants in two weeks, don’t worry about it and tell anybody who says otherwise to eat shit. Hey, you can always blame it on your hormones.
And seriously, don’t get scared. You may get off easy and get none of these things to any great degree, and if you’re really, really lucky you’ll have a birth like my friend, Moira.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the Exit Care post. You know, just in case.
Did you have a postpartum surprise?
Let us know what you weren't expecting in the comments below.