What it’s really like after you give birth.
What it’s really like after you give birth. What really happens after you have a baby? Well first off it still looks like you are carrying the said baby. Let’s say you had an “easy” labor (we all hope for those) but what is easy? Not laboring for days? Sure. An uninterrupted birth plan? Sure. But labor is never easy. Chances are you didn’t sleep comfortably for your entire third trimester. You have to pee a million times throughout the night. Maybe you were a back sleeper or worse stomach preferred. It’s recommended you sleep on your left side. Left is best (it improves circulation and keeps excess body weight off your liver). Sound easy? Every night? For 4-5 months? It’s not really.
With my first pregnancy I was active and so was he. I slept on and off and went 2 weeks past my due day before I was induced. My 2nd pregnancy was back to back and now I had a baby and was carrying a baby so my sleep decreased even more. She was born naturally and right on target with her due date but I caught a cold and dilated so quickly there was no time for an epidural or anything else. Totally natural. I was admitted at 11:30 pm at 3cm and she was born at 1:54am. Sounds short and easy right? Well my doctor insisted I have an enema first and after I sat on the toilet for 45 minutes, while contracting, I insisted I shower before laboring. I still had a cold, was exhausted but like it or not it was “showtime”. I had my 3rd three years later and was induced again. I realized I preferred natural over induced and at the time I was uneducated about the risks associated with induced deliveries period. My youngest was a cesarean section and after they took the little guy out he was whisked away with dad for testing and I was alone. Well I was with the docs and my anesthesiologist and Roxy Music’s Pandora station.
So you want to know the sh@t they don’t tell you?
1) A great percentage of women do defecate during labor or pushing. Any L&D nurse will tell you pushing out a baby is similar to a bowl movement and closer to one post constipation not your regular morning movement.
2) In addition to still looking pregnant (that’s due to your swollen uterus) your hormones drop and you get emotional. Really emotional. I would not refer to myself as super emotional before but postpartum everything made me cry. This lasts for roughly 2 weeks but if it continues it’s likely you have a “Postpartum Mood Disorder” or PPD. Affecting 1 in 5 women (and even ten percent of men).
3) Your relationship takes a beating. All that time you had or spent with each other depletes. You are both tired, run down and might get snappy or even jealous. You both adore this little person. A combination of the two of you formed out of love but it’s an adjustment. Forever.
4) You may never get your “pre-baby” body back. You have stretch marks, your belly is softer and if you have hemorrhoids let’s just say they don’t make you feel any sexier…
I lost weight quick with the first two but my stomach never recovered. After my third the weight continued to increase and hang on. Now at 44, and realizing my uterus is not accepting anymore tenant applications, I worked really hard on going back down to close-enough-for-me to feel comfortable with my post baby body again. A mere 24 years after I first gave birth.
5) You become one of them. What do I mean? All those conversations you had about “I won’t show my babies pictures off all the time” and mocking those who had the “cutest” or “smartest” babies parents. Well you will. In your eyes your child will amaze you, be adorable and have a 169 IQ – at 6 months old. The baby body snatchers will get to you and you’ll be just fine.
6) Contractions feel like a charlie horse and a sit up combined.
A few tips
1) Try and stick to the recommended 25-35 lbs. suggested weight gain. Don’t try and stay under it, and avoid going over it. The myth is you are eating for 2 but remember the other party is not a walking, talking person with teeth craving a steak. You only need around 300 extra calories a day. Feel free to indulge from time to time but nutritious and healthy eating is best. The weight gain not only includes baby weight but also: the placenta, uterus, breast tissue and blood. Gaining over is harmful because it can contribute to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, discomfort and increases additional concerns such as premature labor.
2) Talk about your excitement and fears with your partner. For you it’s physical & emotional. Your partner has more of a visual and it may take the baby’s actual birth to finally sink in “this is really happening/happened”.
3) Discuss your childhoods and how you want to parent. Couples have a hard time adjusting to certain practices (to take your baby out a week post birth or not). Also think about your birth order. The oldest in the family has an entirely different experience than the youngest. Only child? Well I call this “OCS” or only child syndrome. Having one or multiple children is a lot of attention the OCS has to let go of.
4) The newest rage is a “baby moon”. A get away before the baby is born. This is a great idea but also plan one postpartum without the baby. How old he or she is depends on your comfort level (I suggest waiting at least 2 months or a bit longer with a cesarean) but have a night to look forward to. If a nice long dinner or a night away make sure you reconnect and check in with your partner. It is easy to forget about the other person because babies take up a lot of time.
5) Find a birth professional who not only communicates openly but respects and supports your birth plan. If you don’t feel open and comfortable they might not be the right person for you.
6) Ever wore a hospital gown? They are not cute & not really comfortable. Not a flattering color and think about all the other women to wear the same gown before you. Nowadays you have options and I mean cute options!
Pack a nice going home outfit for you and the baby. Splurge a little on yourself before labor. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Photo courtesy of author
This is part 1 of a new Doula Spot series on “the 4th trimester” focusing on the postpartum period in specific areas and from various points of view.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
Jennifer “Jake” McKenna Ibarra – studied Early Childhood Education at San Francisco City College, is a certified birth and bereavement doula through SBD University, certified in perinatal mood disorders by Postpartum Support International and is also a PSI member.
Jake is a passionate volunteer and fundraiser who began volunteering during high school at a soup kitchen, which ignited her passion for cooking and helping others. She was a project leader for Hands on Bay Area (formerly Hands on San Francisco) for ten years. During this time she volunteered at Harbor House, tutoring a homeless girl and cooking breakfast monthly at Edgewood Children’s Center, a Level 14 group home. Her volunteer efforts and leadership skills garnered her a Volunteer of the Year Award nomination in 2006. She is an active fundraiser for March of Dimes for Babies, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, leukemia and lymphoma, brain tumor and AIDS. In addition, she successfully ran two Give Forward campaigns, raising over $100,000 to date.
She was born and raised in San Francisco. Jake is the mother of three 5th generation natives and one 6th generation native, raising them in her hometown. Jake’s diverse career history includes: disabled ADA eligibility analyst, bartender & event manager, property management for the owners of the landmark Transamerica Pyramid building, and biotech before she focused on birth and writing. She loves the outdoors and sunshine and you just might find her walking around San Francisco.