Giving birth is THE most amazing thing in the entire universe!
But it is also insanely traumatic on a woman's body.
As I remember my own treacherous and beautiful journey into motherhood I have pulled together a few things that no one told me about pregnancy & giving birth that I wish I had been prepared for. Here we go!
Water retention during pregnancy can cause CARPAL TUNNEL and can make your hands go numb!
Since it isn't very common & no one told me it was even a possibility, carpel tunnel was THE most shocking side effect of my pregnancy. For the 5 weeks leading up to pregnancy and the 2 weeks after giving birth my hands vacillated between numbness & stinging all day, every day. I woke up almost nightly from the pain of it. After Winslett was born all I wanted to do was hold her and change her little diapers but I was devastated by the loss of sensation in my hands. The first night they brought her into my room to nurse and I remember sobbing because I could't even unbutton my shirt without help. My hands were useless. Never before had I needed to be so tender and delicate and never before had my hands been so unresponsive.
Pooing after birth was harder than pushing during birth
I don't want to be gross so I will keep this very short but I have heard this same thing from numerous other moms, going number 2 for the first few days after giving birth can be WAY more excruciating than actually giving birth. I ended up staying in the hospital 2 days longer than normal because of the issues I had with my tearing & how it affected my ability to use the bathroom. But don't worry I won't leave you hanging on a low note with out some advice on how to avoid this issue! CALLING ALL SOON TO BE MOMS, AFTER YOU GIVE BIRTH I HIGHLY RECCOMMEND CHUGGING PRUNE JUCE THE MOMENT THE DOCTORS ALLOW YOU TO EAT AND DRINK. Hopefully that will keep you from too much trouble in this department! Good luck and God speed!
If you don't express your milk every time it comes in your body may drop that feeding indefinitely, so if you want to breast feed NEVER miss a chance to express your milk!
I'm sure you've heard breast feeding is hard, but you may be wondering " what is so hard about it?" There are loads of answers to that question but the one I am going to focus on is LOW MILK SUPPLY. Some women are natural milk makers and this point may not apply to them but for the majority of women out there who have issues with their milk supply I want to warn you that if you want to breast feed you do NOT want to miss any opportunities to express your milk. The female body is very adaptive in healing itself but it is very reluctant to give more than it needs to, this applies to creating milk. If in those first few weeks you decide to sleep through a feeding because your baby is sleeping through the feeding you will most likely pay for those extra hours or shut eye in a loss of supply during that feeding the following nights. NO ONE TOLD ME THIS and I had to learn the hard way that you don't get many second chances when you are establishing your breastmilk supply. So take it seriously or you might lose it.
PPD is pretty normal BUT don't discount it as " just hormones"
The more our society talks about our struggles the more people have realized that Post Partum Depression is fairly common & that it is not just hormones. It can be affected by hormones but it is a mental health issue and it should be treated with care and encouragement. Whether it is your first baby or your last baby, bringing a human into the world is a seismic shift for a mother & while there is great gain there is often great loss. A mother must mourn the loss of her previous life stage and for some that mourning can be much deeper and much harder than they anticipated. When I was wrestling with PPD found it very encouraging to know that I was not alone in my pain & that it was most likely going to pass.
Your rib cage can expand & generally doesn't shrink back
Before I gave birth I did a lot of research on the subject of female physique after giving birth. I wanted to see what I could expect from my body. And while there were hundreds of articles teaching me how to tone my post-baby bod there were very few telling me what was actually going to happen to it. So I wanted to share one nugget of post-baby body expectations that MAY or MAY NOT be a part of your story.... YOUR RIB CAGE CAN EXPAND DURING PREGNANCY AND NEVER GO BACK. I am 7 months post partum and I while I am pretty close to my pre-baby figure there are still some small things that are just different. Around month 5 I found myself staring in the mirror wondering why non of my bras fit around my rib cage. I had lost most of my pregnancy weight so why weren't things fitting? And then it hit me... my rib cage must have expanded and stayed that way! Suddenly the slight "off-ness" I had noticed made perfect sense! My rib cage was bigger so my waistline looked bigger even though I was pretty much back to my normal size. I was sad for a few minutes but then I just decided it was a good excuse for a shopping spree & decided to make the best of it. I think it was just nice to know what had happened, even if I couldn't change it. Ya know?
Women really are amazing beings! we can endure so much discomfort & change for the wellbeing of our babies!
And while all of these trials consumed me for a season I can say with full confidence now that it was all worth it!