There’s a plethora of information out there about what to expect when you have a baby; the pain, the stress, the hospital etc. In fact, there’s many anecdotes about those specific elements, you can almost feel like you’ve “been there, done that” before you even give birth.
Hold up just a minute, because there are quite a few things (and by few I mean shitloads) people neglect or forget to mention. Here are a few very real of elements of giving birth that I wish someone warned me about…
- You might not experience that overwhelming feeling of love when you first meet your baby… and that’s OK. Whether you’re having a natural birth or a C-Section, your hormones will be raging so hard, you’ll feel like you’re practically orbiting the earth. So, don’t do what I did and over analyze every wave of emotion you feel at that moment – just ride the wave.
- Having a C-Section? You’re pretty much going to be lying on a nappy for the first week post-birth. Don’t worry, you’ll be so pumped up on pain killers you won’t care (too much).
- Get ready to get milked like a cow in hospital. The focus on breastfeeding for new mothers is so intense it verges on fanaticism. No, breast is NOT best in all circumstances. Yup, I just went there. Please don’t fall into that guilt trip the new ‘mummy mafia’ like to pontificate. The BEST option is the option that benefits both the mother and the baby. That said, most new mothers do want to attempt to breastfeed and hospitals are more than happy/willing to help you on your journey. But be warned – this involves midwives ‘milking’ you as your body begins produce more milk. So get ready, because the first few days will involve somebody standing over you and squeezing your nipples into a specimen jar. Ahh, the miracle of new life.
- Think fluid retention was reserved just for pregnancy? Think again. Everyone claims that once you give birth all that extra fluid your body has been hoarding just disappears. That’s not always the case. During my pregnancy I was lucky not to have to contend with painful swollen ankles and feet – that all changed, however, a day after giving birth. It was as if my body had suddenly taken on five litres of water overnight and began storing it in my legs and feet. I was terrified – I had never seen or heard of anyone who said their fluid retention was worse after giving birth. Was this my body now? But yes, it does happen and while this might not happen to everyone, it did happen to me and I wish someone had mentioned it was a possibility beforehand.
- EVERYONE will give you advice, even people who are not parents. While it can get overwhelming and leave you feeling downright anxious about your own instincts as a new mother, don’t get too caught up in it. Most people are just trying to help and don’t realise they’re overstepping a line. It’s cool – be polite, listen to what they have to say and then if you’re not keen on it toss that advice right out the window.
Finally, don’t judge. Seriously. Every pregnancy is different. I remember the first (and last) time I told someone I was getting an elected C-Section. The woman laughed and said; “Oh, I bet that’s because you don’t want to go through the pain. What a cop out”. I laughed and shook my head ‘no’ but left it at that. I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable by revealing the real reason and the fact that it was a thought out decision that was recommended (given my concerns and previous health history) by my OBGYN and by my perinatal psychologist.
EDIT: I’m not trying to encourage or advocate anything. I’m only trying to illuminate other soon-to-be mothers and let them know it’s OK not to feel OK and want to explore and discuss other options.
Every mother will have her own way of raising her child – which is her right. Just because they’re making choices for their child that are not common or perhaps don’t mesh with your ideals doesn’t mean they’re wrong. We, as women, are lucky to live in a country that gives us the choice to raise our children and our babies they way we want (as long as they are not hurting them or themselves).