Childbirth is messy, really really messy but at the same time it is the most beautiful experience of your life. I've had so many women tell me how scared they are of labor and delivery and my response is always to remember that it is just one day. Yes it's hard and painful, but it's a good pain. There's a point to it and it's not hurting you. The pain of the contractions are a wonderful thing because with each one you are closer to meeting your baby. There's a lot of intense things that happen before, during, and after labor that so many women just keep to themselves or say to other moms "you know what I mean." While this may not be appropriate dinner table talk, I want you to know it's ok to talk about it. It's ok to say out loud, I tore, I have hemorrhoids, I was a gusher.. I'm always here to be honest with you guys, so here it is, all of that happened to me. I personally wish that I had found other blog posts that were brutally honest about childbirth before I gave birth to Kai. I'm not here to scare you but it does happen but you know what else? You heal! You really really do. The human body is extraordinary, especially women's bodies! Sorry guys, but it's true. Women are far superior in every way. I read a hilarious quote at the very beginning of my pregnancy and it was, "There's a reason God decided women would give birth and not men." We're so strong, stronger than you can ever imagine yourself and I promise you can do it. We are meant to do this and it's all so wonderful.
Belly Itching + Stretch Marks
My bump was itching so bad the last couple weeks of my pregnancy. I remember being so miserable and nothing would help. Our skin gets stretched so far to make room for these little nuggets that it's just bound to happen. I got some pretty gnarly stretch marks at the very end but I've been using the Honest Company Belly Balm and it has worked wonders to lighten them up. You can't even see them anymore! The itching goes away too about a week after giving birth. I still had a little bit of it right after but that's because your skin is snapping back to normal. Seriously, our bodies are amazing.
Losing the Plug
If you're pregnant and getting close to the end, there's going to be a lot of talk about losing your mucus plug. It's gross yes, but it happens when you go to the bathroom. I lost mine all at once when my water broke. You flush it down the toilet and that's that. I've heard that some women can lose it early and some can lose it a little bit here and there. Whatever it may be, you just wash it away and know that pretty soon it's going to be baby time! See? Always a positive outcome even with the gross stuff.
Only about 10% of women's water break before labor starts. I am proud to say I am in that 10%! I was terrified that this would happen to me at work and that I would be a gusher. Well I was a gusher but thankfully it happened in the comfort of my own home. I definitely would have been embarrassed if I was out in public and especially if it was somewhere like work where I would have to see these people again! However, if it does happen, who cares, especially if you're just out and about! You'll never see those people again and you have much more to think about than what people think of you wetting your pants ha! To ease your comfort though, most women really do start to have contractions first and a lot of times your doctor or midwife will have to break your water for you. So either way, know you are not alone. It also may be a slow trickle or you might just start gushing water like I did. For me the beginning sensation started while I was laying in bed. It woke me up in the morning actually. I felt this purging sensation down in my vagina and thought "hm, that feels weird" and got up to go to the bathroom. Then whoosh it all started coming out. Whatever it may be, just carry a towel around with you until you get in to your hospital bed if it breaks before you get to the hospital. Just remember that once in breaks, you're guaranteed to meet your babe in the next 24 hours!
Pain of Contractions
At first, they really don't hurt. They're just weird. Before I went in to labor I remember scouring the internet for what they feel like because I just needed to know and I could never find anything that truly described them. So here it is. For me, they were a strong tightening of my lower abdomen and I felt a lot of pressure pushing down in to my vagina. That's it. None of this intense sharp cramping that you picture or anything like that. The most uncomfortable part and I imagine painful part is that the pressure gets more and more as you dilate. I opted to receive an epidural when I was 5 cm dilated and that is when the pressure was becoming very uncomfortable. After I got the epidural though, they didn't hurt at all!
I had a second degree tear with Kai. I tore externally and internally and had to receive stitches. Thanks to the epidural though I didn't feel the tearing happening or the stitching happening. I heard it though. It was a series of pops and all I could think was yep there it goes...but hey then my baby was born! They put your little bundle on your chest and your doctor takes care of you and you seriously don't even notice. Afterwards, you're sore but I imagine all women are even if you don't tear! You just gave birth to a human after all. Just use the ice packs the hospital gives you and when you get home start using the padsicles you prepared. Here's the recipe for the ones I made. They seriously do wonders and I healed so quickly thanks to them! Also use the peribottle that the hospital gives you after every bathroom visit to keep yourself clean down there. The stitches just dissolve in your body so nothing falls out or anything crazy like that. At your 6 week postpartum appointment with your doctor or midwife, they will check it and make sure you are all good and I promise you will be. Just rest, take ibuprofen, and ice when you can!
Peeing Your Pants
So I haven't ever really experienced this but it definitely does happen to a lot of women so if you're in this bucket, you're seriously not alone! I had a friend tell me one day during her pregnancy she had pee running down her leg and we just laughed about it because who cares, it happens to the best of us! Just wear a pad around if you feel your pelvic floor weakening. Do some kegels when you can it'll get stronger over time. There's so much weight baring down and then during delivery your pushing so hard, your bound to mess it up. But just like everything else, it really does get better over time. I still wear a pad when I workout just in case. No shame mamas!
Pooping on the Table
I have no idea if this happened to me. It might have? I don't know and you know why? Because for 1 you can't see, 2 you can't feel it, and 3 the nurses just clean it up for you or it just drops right in to the bag at the end of the table. Trust me, a lot is coming out of you other than stools so seriously don't concern yourself with any of it. Just concentrate on your pushing your babe out...that's all that matters!
The First Postpartum Bowel Movement + Hemorrhoids
Ok sorry ladies but this one hurts. Like a fricken mother f*****. I'm not trying to scare anyone but oh my goodness this is probably the only thing I'm dreading with future babies. But like I've been stressing over and over again it all gets better over time. To help with all of this do sitz baths with either the contraption they give you at the hospital or just sit in your bath tub. I opted for the bath tub because I had a very bruised tailbone after giving birth. I would fill it with a little bit of water and a few drops of tea tree oil and just sit for about 10 to 15 min. It was a nice break and time to myself actually. Also use baby wipes (I'm sure you have plenty) to wipe yourself after going as toilet paper can be a little rough and really irritate hemorrhoids. Preparation H, those padiscles, and stool softeners will help them heal, too. This was honestly the most uncomfortable part for me and I definitely got frustrated that this part of postpartum took so long to go away and I actually still struggle with this now 5 months postpartum but you just learn to deal. Some days it hurts still but most days it doesn't. Once again...time is your best friend with all this healing.
Post delivery will feel like a very heavy period. You'll need to wear a pad 24/7 and yes I really do recommend just wearing the granny panty mesh underwear from the hospital for the first 2 weeks. I felt like I was wearing a diaper most of the time but it was better than ruining clothes, sheets, or the couch. The bleeding gets better each week and mine was completely gone by 4 weeks.
I didn't get this one too bad either, thank goodness but I know it does happen. At the hospital I was told at the beginning to wipe my nipples with a warm cloth after each feeding and let them air dry. Then apply some nipple cream. I started out using the Lansinoh nipple cream and it did help but it stained my clothes! So be careful ladies, it's like grease so if you wash and dry your clothes you'll never get those stains out. I switched to using the Honest Nipple Balm and it's been amazing. You don't really need it after about week 2 but every once in awhile I'll apply a little because they can get sore from pumping.
Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression, + Postpartum Psychosis
So of all the things us mamas experience after birth, this topic is definitely one of the most serious and important ones. Our emotional and mental health is so important and it is extremely rocked after giving birth...hell it's even messed with during pregnancy...hello crazy pregnancy hormones! It is completely normal to experience baby blues after giving birth. Some moms feel it right away and it sets in later for others. Our hormones are going haywire to get back to normal or to stabilize for breastfeeding. However, if it's been months and you still can't stop crying, have severe anxiety, or if it's more on the extreme side where you are hallucinating, have thoughts of harming yourself or others, and aren't able to complete any of your normal daily tasks then I encourage you with my whole heart to call your doctor. There is no shame in any of this. It happens to all of us, myself included. After I went back to work I found it very hard to cope with my feelings, I struggled to be productive, and my anxiety was through the roof. I couldn't deal with small things or big things and thanks to my sister in law and one of my best friends I went to my doctor. I am proud to say I am doing so much better these days and I'm able to go through life now with a much clearer head. The thing is, it's not our fault that we feel this way. Thanks to all that we went through and are still going through our bodies just can't regulate its hormones without some help. It's all a part of motherhood and if you need the help of talking to someone or medication then please seek it out, it will help you to kick ass at life even more.
That about covers it. If I've forgotten anything or if you mamas have any other questions or advice for me and other moms please leave me a comment below! Hooray for the mess of being moms! It's a beautiful thing ;)
I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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