You’ve read the books. You’ve gone to the antenatal classes. You’ve politely listened to unsolicited advice from strangers at the bus stop. You’re prepared, right?
You have an idea what to expect during pregnancy and labour, and are pretty sure you will know how to change and bathe the baby. But what about you? After the birth you don’t just go back to being the pre-pregnancy you overnight. Aside from the fact that you have a teeny tiny human relying on you to fulfil their every need, your body – and mind – goes through some pretty weird things.
Here are some of the things I wasn’t really expecting after having a baby.
1. The phantom kicks. This is an incredibly weird feeling, usually while lying in bed at night, when you are convinced you can feel a baby kicking. This happened to me for months after having my kids and I never got used to it. It’s just everything getting back to normal. And probably wind.
2. The hair loss. After keeping hold of as much hair as possible during pregnancy, post baby your body decides to shed it all. While its unlikely to cause any serious balding issues, for me its more the inconvenience of constantly having to pick hair off everything I own.
3. Mastitis. Aka blocked milk ducts. Aka severe tear inducing boob pain. Unfortunately I had the fever symptoms as well as the pain and swelling, and felt like I had the flu. And when you have a 2 week old baby, a preschooler and your husband has just gone back to work you can’t really have a sick day!
4. How much you will regret not religiously doing your pelvic floor exercises. Let’s just say don’t attempt to do star jumps anytime soon. Or ever.
5. The weird dreams. Or should I say hallucinations. In my sleep deprived state I would wake suddenly, worried that I’d fallen asleep holding the baby. I couldn’t remember getting out of bed and putting the baby in her cot. I was convinced that my sleeping husband was said baby, and would frantically grab hold of him in an attempt to stop him falling out of the bed. His attempts to break free from my desperate grasp just made me more convinced that poor little baby was wriggling towards doom the end of the bed and would surely fall. All the while, baby is flat out in their own bed.
This happened A LOT. However my Hubby topped this the night I woke up to find him trying to fasten an imaginary bib around my neck and telling me ‘It’s ok, I’ll put your bib on and then you just need your nappy changed’. Luckily I managed to snap him out of it before he did indeed attempt to ‘change my nappy’.
6. The sleep deprivation. The first few weeks are hard. Really hard. But it does get better, and they night your little one finally sleeps for more than three hours you will feel positively refreshed! I’m not going to tell you to sleep when baby sleeps, as quite often that it impractical, but do get lots of rest and don’t put too much pressure on yourself – everything seems to take ten times as long when you have had no sleep.
7. The alcohol intolerance. Looking forward to that first glass of wine post-baby? Perhaps a glass of champagne to celebrate? You will probably fall asleep on the sofa before you finish it (that’s if you are lucky enough not to be disturbed by a very hungry newborn) and if you do manage to drain the glass, don’t be surprised if you have serious wine head in the morning. At 5am when you have to get up with the baby. Again.
8. Just how much energy breastfeeding uses up. Honestly, sitting on the sofa watching box sets all day with a cluster feeding milk monster burns a ton of calories. It can leave you feeling exhausted and starving – but its a great excuse to rest and eat cake!
9. The after pains. You may well be convinced there is still another baby in there trying to get out. These can last for a few days but as uncomfortable as they are, it’s a good sign that your womb is returning to its pre-baby size.
10. How all the clichés about a parent’s love and how it’s all worth it etc etc are totally true. And then some. You truly cannot prepare yourself for it.