“Postpartum” you glamourous thing, you. When we are pregnant we gear ourselves up so much for the actual exit of the baby that we don’t spend enough time thinking or preparing for life afterwards (you know, when you actually have that bundle of love relying on you and you feel like you’ve been hit by 4 tonnes of bricks).
Postpartum life did come as a shock to me. “How bad can it be?” I thought, and although it’s not bad. It’s not great and it’s certainly not pretty.
I had visions of myself “bouncing back”, stepping into life as a new mum with a Merry Berry cookbook in hand and a stream of baby coffee dates penned into the calendar. The reality? Me, laden to the same spot on the sofa watching Westworld, clutching a newborn and sulking that I couldn’t do anything. Hair in a top knot, that was so questionable I am pretty sure it had living organisms growing in it and skin that you could grease a pan with.
No coffee dates in sight. Not even one.
Postpartum is a weird time. You just don’t feel yourself and you are itching to get back on your feet (don’t by the way, sit down). You’re desperate to start this new life that you have been looking forward to for so long, but you are physically restricted.
You get hit by the baby blues, your hormones are all over the place, your body feels black and blue and you’re more sleep deprived than you’ve ever been in your entire life. Just know that it’s temporary.
Each day you grow in strength and confidence. Each day you feel a little fresher and before you know it you are the fighting fit mama bear you hoped you’d be.
Take each day as it comes and embrace it. Embrace slow days. Relish in the cuddles and the newborn small (gah, the smell!). Cry the crazy tears. Allow yourself to be taken care of, so that you can take care of your new little bundle.
Before you do all that though, read this list. Here are the things that no one told me about postpartum:
You are going to be VERY well acquainted with maternity pads:
Okay, so you do actually know about this once but seriously nothing can prepare you for it. No matter how that baby exits your body, the aftermath is like a scene from a horror film. I had a cesarian and bled for six. whole. weeks. It was relentless.
I can’t even remember how many packs we ended up getting through, but the second time around I am going to be investing in more nappies too as they ended up making me feel really sore.
The bump isn’t going anywhere:
There is a lot of stuff going on after the hood post baby and if you think that you instantly deflate, you may get a shock. My stepchildren came to visit Rory in the hospital and Richards four-year-old took one look at me and innocently asked: “Georgie, are you having another baby?”
Your belly also feels like jelly. I used to find it hilarious to jiggle my belly. That was until Rory started doing it too… less funny when your baby giggles at your wiggle!
The night sweats:
For ages, I was convinced I was having some kind of milk leak drama as I was waking up in a swimming pool of fluids (no one said postpartum was glamourous did they?) so I was adding extra breast pads before bed. It never occurred to me that it could be sweat until a friend mentioned it to me.
It’s your bodies way of dealing with the extra fluids it’s taken on either during pregnancy, as it no longer needs them, or during labour. I had an IV drip for labour as I was quite dehydrated and that extra fluid has to vacate somehow.
It passes within about 10 days, but it isn’t all that pleasant in my opinion. I was desperate to get back to ‘normal’ when I was postpartum and this was another thing that just made me feel really icky!
You lose your appetite:
Did you know that after an accident or injury, you can lose your appetite? Well, I like to think of this as the same type of thing.
The first few weeks after having Rory I had to really force feed myself to eat. Nothing was taking my fancy. Not even McDonalds French Fries and I never pass on those babies!
When chatting with other mums they all had the same issue. It really surprised me that in a time where your body needs food to renourish and heal, that it isn’t sending triggers to make sure you are replenishing.
It’s worth making someone your “food monitor”. My mum was great for this, she’d bring in quick, easy meals and make sure I was allowed baby-free time to eat them.
There are “after contractions”:
Just when you think it’s all over. The “after contractions” get you.
I only heard about these through other mums. No medical professional warned me about how I’d be doubled up on the landing because one caught me as I was trying to go for a midnight wee.
They are a good thing though. They are your uterus contracting back down to its normal size. Which, let’s face it, is totally welcome!
Everyone will want to talk about your pelvic floor:
Like seriously. You go for a wee in the hospital and there are reminders on the bathroom door to ‘clench’. Every midwife that checks on your will stress the importance and you are armed with leaflets at every opportunity. It is crazy important but I found that having a newborn, that only slept on me resulting in me constantly having to hold my bladder until he woke up, made sure my pelvic floor went back to iron strength!
You will probably cry:
Tears will fall.
Tears will fall because you’re sad. They will fall because you’re happy. Tears will fall because you love your baby. They will fall because you finished your box set on Netflix.
Let them fall. No matter what you are crying about, just go with it.
Your hormones have had a crazy 9-month ordeal with one hell of a grand finale. They don’t understand what is going on. They just want to try and find there way, but they get a little over excited in the process. Some of the best stories you will tell your visitors, new mum friends and the memories with your partner are the reasons you cried in those first few weeks so embrace it.
When we first had Rory, Rich walked into the room.
“What are you crying about now?!” – Rich “I just love him sooooo much” – Me (about Rory)
Lord. It. Up:
There aren’t many times that it’s going to be in you AND your babies best intentions for you to rest (especially when those babies get older and rest doesn’t exist anymore)
One of my biggest regrets is trying so hard to get back on my feet. I hear so many second time mums say they didn’t get out of bed for days and it was a dream. When you have just one baby, it’s much easier to justify that time.
Buy some books that you’ve always wanted to read. Download the documentaries you’ve always wanted to watch. Get cosy and snuggle that baby. They are not that small or sleepy for very long.
Talking on sleepy, newborns sleep a lot in the first few weeks but they do want to be held. You need a few weeks to recharge. Your newborn wants you to be permanently sat down so it can sleep on you. I feel like nature is calling. Go with it. You’ll thank me later I swear!
You’ll feel like you’ve been hit by (at least) a train:
So many people said this to me and I just didn’t believe it.
I remember one night as I was fishing around for a nappy at 3am I clocked sight of my body in the full-length mirror. I had a black and blue belly that looked 3 months pregnant. Breast pads hanging out. A huge nappy on and compression stockings. I literally went “ughhhh” at myself out loud.
I just couldn’t believe that poor woman staring back, was me. She looked like she’d been in a bar fight, got hit by a car and then fell down seven flights of stairs. It was all a little Looney Tunes. I genuinely just had to laugh at this poor little sap.
As we discussed earlier. It’s temporary. You’ll be back soon mama bear.
You’re gonna get lectures about sex, a lot:
Every bugger wants to tell you about contraception. Seriously everyone. I mean it. I think within 24 hours of having Rory AT LEAST 5 people had asked me to consider my choices. THEN the health visitor brings you some leaflets and THEN the doctor gets all serious about it at your 6-week check up.
My response? “Have you seen what just happened to me? Have you seen how tired I am?” The thought of that alone is contraception enough.
Saying that… I fell pregnant again at 7 months postpartum. So maybe actually. Don’t listen to me on this one. (Disclaimer: I wouldn’t change it for the world, everything happens for a reason!)
*This is a collaborative post