When I was pregnant I spent a lot of time reading about pregnancy and birth but didn’t put much stock into researching about being a new parent. I figured I have a degree in child development and I love kids, I should be fine. After I experienced my miracle (by the way no information in the world prepares you for some of the grizzlier things about childbirth) I was ready to go home and conquer parenting. I nailed the birth and thought “I got this”. I spent YEARS educating myself on these little human beings, what could possibly happen that I wasn’t prepared for? Honestly, everything! What you know and what you experience are two COMPLETELY different things. Not only were things happening with Madison I wasn’t prepared for but all my work on educating myself on birth and pregnancy did nothing to help me deal with how I would be post birth. After chatting with some of my friends I decided to write a list of things I wish I had known prior to bringing Madison home!
- Tired isn’t a strong enough word to explain how you’ll feel. My contractions started on a Sunday night at 11:50 PM and Madison wasn’t born until Tuesday around noon. I didn’t sleep at all during that time. While at the hospital she was up nights to eat. I literally slept for a few short hours from Sunday night until we got home on Thursday. The important lesson here is: don’t focus on all the sleep you’ve missed and take advantage when you actually can sleep. I was so worried about the hours I didn’t sleep I found myself struggling to close my eyes when Madison was asleep.
- The pediatrician is going to require that you bring your baby in for their first visit 3 days after you get home. This is harder than it sounds. Make sure you have someone to drive you because you won’t be allowed to drive for a little while and if you think it’s going to take you 30 minutes to get ready, double it! Whatever amount of time you think it will take, just double it – leaving the house with a baby for the first time is very stressful!
- You will be in a considerable amount of pain. People’s pain thresholds are different but the general consensus is that “sore” is a little misleading. For me the pain came in three main parts: Uterus pain, Breastfeeding pain and pain from the delivery and bleeding. The way Mother Nature works is your uterus contacts so that it can shrink back down to a normal size after having carried a baby for 9 months and when it happens, it can hurt. It only happens for a few days post birth and is usually more intense during breastfeeding but it wasn’t something I was prepared for. The good news is this is what helps our bellies get smaller, so while it’s painful I could cope because it helped my body bounce back. The breastfeeding pain can happen for a considerable amount of time post birth, getting a little better each day. Think of breastfeeding like a workout for your nipples, it takes some time for them to get “in shape” so that the activity doesn’t hurt. The bonus here is you actually burn calories while you breastfeed! The post delivery and bleeding pain is a little harder to deal with. For me, it took a solid month to stop bleeding but by week 2-3 the pain had subsided. Sitting down is pretty uncomfortable so it is important to get yourself in a good position before you start feeding your baby, whether breast or bottle. They eat A LOT and you will be sitting with them so trying out new ways to do it comfortably it critical.
- Your baby’s hospital behavior might change when you get home. Some babies will sleep a lot in the first few days because they are so tired from the birth which means it can seem like you have the best sleeper ever! Your child’s true sleeping pattern might not come out until you get home. Don’t be surprised if all of a sudden they are awake every two hours looking for food.
- Poop will now be a major part of your life! You can’t imagine the amount of time you will spend worrying about poop. In the beginning your baby will have a very black sticky poop, which Tim and I call Tar-Poop but after your breast milk comes in, or you switch to formula your baby’s poop will change. Ask the nurses what to expect before you leave the hospital and take them seriously when they talk about how many pee and poops your child has in their first two weeks. This is a big indicator of what is going on with your baby’s body. Your pediatrician will also ask about this at your first appointment so make sure you are prepared with the answer. We kept a “poop log” in the notes on my phone.
- If you have a girl they can get a mini “period”. This is cause from a withdrawal of the hormones she experienced in the womb. This one sounds ridiculous but it happened with Madison and I had a MELTDOWN when I wiped her and the wipe came away bloody. Luckily it doesn’t happen to every little girl and is no big deal.
- Baby Acne doesn’t have any indication of your child’s future complexion. The level of hormones can cause you baby’s face to “breakout” or look red but it won’t last forever. It’s a little shocking because we usually think of baby’s skin being so perfect but it might take some time to get that baby fresh face.
- Your baby’s nails can and will make scratch marks on his/her face. I started out trying to clip them and accidentally clipped Madison’s finger which made her cry, me cry and Tim mad at me-the post birth hormones really took control after that. After that I ditched the clippers and started to file her nails. It helped a lot but had to be done daily.
Honestly, this list can go on and on – everything changes in a matter of days. You have to establish a new routine while recovering from something major and getting to know your baby. I hope this list helps and would love to hear some things you wish you had known or if you have any questions about your impending parenthood!