Typically, we like to know what is coming and what to expect in situations. Personally, I like to anticipate what is coming up so I can plan and prepare accordingly. However, when I was pregnant, I was busy planning for the baby and the childbirth and I didn’t think much about or ask others what to expect for myself after having a baby.
There definitely were some surprises! In addition, I was uncertain if what was happening was normal (which it was) or if I should be questioning it or seeking help. Everyone’s postpartum experience is different, but read on for potentially what to expect after having a baby.
In the Hospital After Having A Baby
Having a baby is a memorable and wonderful experience. Although, have you thought about what happens during those hours and days in the hospital after having a baby? Read on for 15 things to expect after having a baby.
1. Items You and Baby Will Use In the Hospital.
There is a lot going on in the hospital after having a baby. Besides getting used to holding, swaddling, feeding and changing your baby, there are doctor visits and nurse checks for both of you. Your baby will have their first bath, a hearing test, blood work drawn, and circumcision surgery for a boy if you choose. Furthermore, there is lots of paperwork to fill out. Then you may have some visitors to meet the baby.
Through all of this, there are many different things you and the baby will be using and needing during this time. Many of these items the hospital provides, so definitely use their supplies. In addition, many of these items are good to keep using at home and the hospital lets you take them home with you. Be sure to take advantage of this.
Items Mom uses after childbirth that hospitals provide:
- Gown and robe – these can get dirty fast so wear hospital clothes and let them do your laundry
- Pain medication
- Squirt bottle
- Pain spray
- Ice packs
- Feminine pads
- Bed pads
Items Baby uses after childbirth that hospitals provide:
- Spit/nose sucker
2. Handling Doctors and Nurses
Nurses and Doctors try to provide assistance, but sometimes will make your decisions in the hospital. It is good to get their advice, but if you don’t feel comfortable or don’t feel it is right for you and the baby don’t be afraid to speak up or say no.
For instance, with my first baby my contractions started at 11pm so we were up all night, went to the hospital at 6am, gave birth at 4:30pm and by 11pm we were finally able to rest. All 3 of us had just fallen asleep and a nurse comes in the room, wakes my son and I up to try feeding him again. As they say waking up a sleeping baby is usually not a good idea, and it was not in this case. It was several hours again before we were all back to resting. This didn’t happen the 2nd time when my daughter was born, but I would have said no. Instead, with my daughter we all got a pretty good first night’s rest which would not happen again for a while:)
3. Uncomfortable Moments After Childbirth
Contractions and pushing at the end are usually the most painful part of having a baby. Yet there are still more uncomfortable parts after giving birth. This includes delivering the afterbirth and being stitched up afterwards. Next, they force you to use the restroom shortly after having a baby which can be difficult. Then nurses will periodically come in to check your abdomen. They push on it to make sure everything is healing correctly, which can be very uncomfortable.
Body Changes After Having a baby
4. Body Leakage
You may experience some leakage from different parts of your body for a while after childbirth. Invest in pads to go inside your bra as you may leak while your milk is coming in. I prefer the disposable ones vs. the ones you need to wash.
Especially if you plan to breastfeed, you may use nursing pads throughout the entire breastfeeding period depending on your supply.
The same goes for your underwear. You may need to wear pads for a few weeks to several months after you have a baby. So prepare ahead and get some extra thick pads before your baby is born. For more on postpartum essentials and what to stock up on before you have a baby click here.
5. Passing a Bowel Movement
Passing a bowel movement did not feel normal for about the first 6 months after giving birth. Also, passing the first one after having a baby was extremely difficult and didn’t happen until 3 days after giving birth.
6. Your Body Is Healing
After becoming best friends with your OBGYN at the end of your pregnancy, once you have the baby you do not go back to see your OBGYN until 6 weeks after delivery. Those 6 weeks until your doctor checkup can be rough. There may be many times where you are thinking “Is this normal?” and most likely the answer is YES. Your body just grew another human for 9 months and then got it out. Your body needs time to heal and readjust. However, if you have a bad feeling and something seems very unusual call your doctor just to be safe.
7. Postpartum Hair loss
Hair loss is common during postpartum. Not that you will notice chunks coming out, but you may shed more than usual. Unfortunately this can last for many months afterwards. I finally stopped excessive shedding after my baby was a year old.
8.Getting Your Body Back to Normal
Different parts of your body, besides your stomach area, will not be the same for some time, if ever after giving birth. For instance, my fingers were bigger until my baby was about 16 months old. I couldn’t wear my wedding ring until then because it didn’t fit.
Another example is my face shape took over a year to get back to normal. Next, sometimes feet get a little longer or wider during pregnancy and don’t go back. Lastly, there is the obvious belly, hips, and torso change that takes time to get back to normal as well.
Breastfeeding, exercising, and healthy eating are ways to help get your body back to normal. It happens differently and at a different pace for each mom. For some women breastfeeding helps them lose their baby weight. Unfortunately for me, that did not work. Watching what I ate and exercising were what I had to do. My baby is 22 months and I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I am still working on getting my belly area back to normal.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, has so many benefits, and is 100% worth it. Although, your body will not feel like “your own” again until you are done. Breastfeeding will run your life because every few hours you will either need to feed your baby or pump.
Depending on your supply, it will become the “liquid gold” they talk about. Handle it with care, get as much as you can while you have it, and do not waste it because you never know when it may run out.
I wanted to breastfeed both my babies until they were one. With my first, my supply decreased around 8-9 months. However, I had enough in the freezer from when I was over producing to last until about 11 months. So with my second, I majorly took advantage when I was over producing and freezing more milk so if my supply decreased again, I would have enough to make it to a year. Well history did repeat itself. Again around 8-9 months, my supply decreased, but no worries because I had enough supply to last past a year.
10. Back Pain
Around 3-6 months you may experience some back pain or discomfort. These are the ligaments in your back going back to their normal position that got stretched out during pregnancy. If you have back pain try rotating positions at least every hour (sitting, standing) and stretch your back out.
11. Bladder Control
Your bladder control may not be as good as it used to be before giving birth. Running, jumping, doing jumping jacks, jumping on a trampoline, and belly laughing may all cause you to leak urine. Trying doing kegel exercises to help strengthen those muscles.
12. Menstral Cycle
Your menstrual cycle could be irregular and extra heavy after having a baby. If you had a calendar clockwork menstrual cycle before, get ready for an unpredictable cycle afterwards. If you breastfeed it may be awhile until it comes back (Yay!) but once it does, it may be irregular and heavy.
Probably the biggest shocker for me was not any of the items above. It was that my regular clothes did not fit for quite some time. After you give birth, you still may look like you are 5-6 months pregnant. Most likely, you will be wearing some maternity clothes for awhile.
Each person and body are different. I was surprised at how long I had to wear maternity clothes after having my baby. Once I finally got out of maternity clothes, my normal clothes still did not fit right. At that point I had a small wardrobe of what I called “my big clothes” which I wore for about 4-9 months. Then I finally fit back into my regular clothes around 16 months after having my first baby.
Remember to keep in mind each mom and body are different. I breastfed until my baby was 12 months so I didn’t begin a strict weight loss program until then. For more on how to prepare yourself for life after having a baby click here.
Other Changes After Having A Baby
14. Postpardum Emotions
Thankfully, I did not experience any postpartum depression. I was in love with my baby and my new role as a mother. Nevertheless, I still did have some emotional days and at times struggle with my change of lifestyle.
It is very normal to not quite know what you are feeling, and experiencing mentally and emotionally. Still no matter what do not be afraid to reach out for help or talk to someone about what you are feeling.
15. Changing Relationships
When you have a baby, you are adding one of the most important people to your life. One that will need you constantly and take up a lot of your time especially at first. Because of this, other relationships and connections you are use to putting time into will have to change. There will not be as much time to socialize or keep up with all the other relationships you have.
This will change again as your baby gets older, as relationships do change for many reasons. So if you feel lonely, or you miss going out or seeing people, it is normal. Set up a video chat with family or friends, or have your spouse or a family member watch the baby so you can grab dinner with friends. Your baby will be your #1 priority, but staying in touch with some of your other relationships is important as well. As a mom, I have found it tough to be with my kids as much as I want, work, and keep up with my other relationships. A balance I am still trying to figure out.
Final Thoughts on Things to Expect After Having a Baby
Having a baby is a special time in your life. So many new joys, laughs and loves. However, people tend to leave out the details about what actually goes on in the hospital and with your body after having a baby. Unfortunately your doctor does not hand you a pamphlet on what to expect afterwards. Hopefully the 15 things listed above have given you more knowledge on what to expect so you can prepare accordingly for after having a baby.