Giving birth is weird. Seriously. It is unlike any other experience you will ever have, and unless you’ve experienced it for yourself, you can’t possibly understand how it feels on a mental, emotional, and physical level. I mean, first there’s just you, then all of a sudden there’s someone else, too. Nothing can prepare you for this. Not reading books, watching documentaries, visiting websites. Nothing. Which is why, honestly, it's easy to admit there are more than a few things I wasn’t ready for after I gave birth; things that threw me for a loop in both the best of ways and the worst of ways.
Some of the things on this list are things you probably didn’t expect, either. Some have to do with physical things that happened to my body after birth (either immediately after, or some days and weeks later). Others have more to do with my connection with my child. Then, of course, there are still others that are more related to my personal birth experience and as someone who had a vaginal birth. For example, my son was born sick and needed to be rushed to the NICU.
However, while every woman is different and every birth, and subsequent postpartum period, is different, there are a few surprising aspects of post-birth life that I'm willing to bet almost every mom is surprised by. Hopefully, at the very least, some if not all resonate with you, too.
How Bizarre It Was To See My Baby For The First Time
Prior to giving birth, I thought my baby would be handed to me and I’d simply think, “Aw how cute. I love you!” Honestly, it wasn’t really like that. Instead, the first thing I thought was how huge and heavy he was (he was 9.5 lbs). And after that, I wondered who on earth this stranger was.
How Slimy He Felt
Unless they do a thorough job of cleaning off your baby, you’ll immediately notice how damn slippery they are. They were inside a floating bag in your belly for roughly nine months, after all. All I remember was hoping he wouldn’t slip out of my hands.
That We Might Not Bond Right Away
When you’re pregnant, it can be somewhat easy to feel like you have complete control over the tiny creature growing inside you. You decide when it eats and drinks, and it goes where you do, no matter what. However, once they’re born, that fetus you carried for so long becomes their own independent human, and sometimes it takes a while for you to feel more like a mom than as just someone who incubated something for a long time.
That The Placenta Was Something I'd Have To Deliver
At least when you’re delivering the baby, you know there’s something amazing to look forward to at the end. Once that baby arrives, however, you don’t want to deal with anything else. Your doctor or midwife will eventually put a pause on that though as you deliver your placenta, which is a necessary but truly odd experience.
That There'd Be So Much Blood
I had some pretty severe birth injuries, so I know I lost a heaping amount of blood after my son was born. I also needed stitches (yep, that’s even more painful than it sounds), and my husband tells me when he returned to the room, the amount of blood that surrounded me truly alarmed him.
Also, the first couple bathroom visits post-baby resulted in the passing of substantially large blood clots that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
That I'd Have Mixed Feelings After Seeing My Deflated Belly For The First Time
Your brain has quite a disconnected moment when you first look down and notice you’re not pregnant anymore. While your belly doesn’t go back to what it looked like pre-pregnancy right away (if ever), it does look significantly less puffy than it did when there was still a fetus inside it.
That My Bathroom Routine Would Significantly Change
Your bathroom routine sure does change after birth. Thanks to the copious amounts of blood being released from your vagina, the hospital will give you these fishnet panties, along with gigantic pads, that will make you feel like you’ve got a shirt bundled up between your legs. You’ll also be given a squirt bottle, info on how to take a bath, and more. Bathroom visits basically become a pain, in part because you might be in pain.
That I'd Be Afraid Of That First Postpartum Poop
Your nurse, or other care provider, will begin asking you within a few hours if you’ve finally had a bowel movement. You will say no, not yet. She’ll say OK, only to return and ask you again. And again. And again.
If you're like me, dear reader, you’ll be terrified because you’re sore down there, damnit, and pooping just does not sound like a good time. Eventually, you’ll have no choice, and it usually won’t be quite as awful as you thought it would be (but it sure ain’t pleasant).
That My Child Might Be Sick
You think you’re not ready to give birth and be a mom? Try giving birth to a child who is sick and needs medical attention right away. I had all these expectations of how my son’s birth would go, and him being rushed to a different hospital’s NICU was definitely not one of them.
That Breastfeeding Would Be So Complicated
Because I didn’t see my baby for a couple days after birth, and because he was attached to a ventilator for the first week of his life, we didn’t attempt breastfeeding right away. Once we did, while it went alright, it was obvious I wasn’t providing him with enough milk. I tried everything I could, but I was not ready to deal with the challenge of breastfeeding.
That My Recover Would Take So Long
Because of the severity of my birth injuries, I was in a lot of pain for months. My healing process took much longer than I thought it would. I was not prepared to spend more than six months barely being able to sit for more than a few minutes, and was definitely not ready for it took take more than a year before I finally felt like “my old self” again down there.
That I Would Love My Child So Damn Much
While I didn’t get to bond much with my son at first, I recall the first moment my heart exploded with love for him. It was after his first week of life, the night they finally took him off the ventilator. The nurse handed him over and we did kangaroo care and I cried the happiest tears. Holding him was the happiest moment of my entire life, hands down.