I never thought much about what would happen AFTER I’d given birth. I was so focused on the pregnancy, and then on the birth itself, that what would happen afterwards hadn’t really occurred to me. My priority was surviving the process, and ensuring Daphne arrived safely. Afterwards was this kind of mystical land that I couldn’t really imagine getting to. And boy, did it blindside me! So, for those of you about to give birth, forewarned is forearmed! Here are some of the things that threw me:
1. How much you wee after birth.
You know how I complained about my insane water retention during pregnancy (esp in my feet)? Well, as soon as you give birth, it all starts to leave your body – and the easiest way for it to do that is through your wee. For the first week or so, I found myself having to literally run to the toilet every hour or so, and then, to quote Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire ‘piss like a racehorse’. It was kind of satisfying but given the state of my pelvic floor post-birth, also a little bit stressful when the toilet wasn’t near, or someone else was hogging it… and don’t get me started on the uncontrollable flatulence – suffice to say, everyone was right about the necessity of doing those Kegel exercises. Dammit.
2. The pain when you sit down.
I hadn’t thought about this either – I knew about stitches and how much they hurt, but I didn’t think about the fact that you CAN’T REALLY SIT ON THEM because ouch, that whole area is just unhappy and bruised and angry with you. So for the first few days after having Daphne, sitting down filled me with dread – it was kind of OK once I was sitting, but the actual process involved gingerly lowering myself into the seat, wincing the entire time. I also suffered from a horribly bruised coccyx (it gets shoved out of place as the baby pushes her way out) and this lasted for nearly three weeks – making leaning back in a chair impossible, and clutch ‘control’ when driving a bit of a misnomer.
3. If you’re a screamer, you lose your voice.
Maybe this is just me, but thanks to my impressive screaming during labour, I was completely hoarse for the next two days. It was even worse than the day-after-drunken-karaoke. Enough said.
4. The complete lack of core strength.
Another interesting post-labour side effect – I thought this one was something only those who had C sections had to deal with, but no, for at least two weeks after Daphne’s birth I had hardly any strength in my core – making sitting up in bed or getting out of the car/up from a chair a real challenge. Apparently I’m one of the lucky ladies whose abdominal muscles have separated, which might explain this. However, I also noticed that all the new mums on the post-natal ward were walking around (like me) in a kind of hunched-over shuffle. It’s kind of how I imagine men feel after being kicked in the balls. But you know, it lasts for weeks. Yesterday, I actually got irrationally angry when someone on TV who’d just had a baby in the programme was walking around all sprightly the day after. NOT POSSIBLE!
5. The Googling.
This is the biggest one. I was always quite a prolific googler, but it’s now out of hand. You will google everything. EVERYTHING. Before the baby is born, you feel you’re quite clued up, you’ve read What to Expect the 1st Year, but still you find yourself, bleary eyed mid-feed at 4am, trying to find out if the red mark between your baby’s eyebrows is anything to worry about, or if the fact she’s only done one poo today is anything to worry about, or how terrible it is to resort to a dummy at three weeks, or how to increase your milk supply, or which breast pump is the best, or whether your baby’s projectile vomiting is dangerous enough to warrant a trip to A&E (ahem, yes, we went, at 3am, after I screamed at Oli to call an ambulance… she was absolutely fine of course). There is SO MUCH to learn, and so much confusing info out there and Google keeps calling you and luring you in deeper and deeper… However, the forums on Mumsnet and Netmums must be avoided at all costs (or you will end up in A&E).
What were your biggest post-labour surprises? I’d love to hear from other new mums!