The post-birth conspiracy: shock stuff no-one tells you

Dear future self,

Well done for managing to get knocked up again! High five to that! As much as it pains me to admit it, last pregnancy, you suffered what will forever be termed as ‘smug pregnancy syndrome’ or ‘SPRUGS’ for short. While you didn’t have a full on case of the SPRUGS, you definitely dabbled.

Working for a pregnancy magazine and being surrounded daily by baby related chatter didn’t help your cause. Researching birth plans, choosing strollers and drilling the resident midwife for breastfeeding advice wasn’t a chore, it was work.

Needless to say, it was with a decent dollop of confidence that you counted down the months, then days till the arrival of bub, confidently smug in the knowledge of the advantage you’d had, living in a baby bubble not only for the past nine months, but the previous two years. 

You probably remember (or maybe you’ve blocked it out) but it came as one hell of a surprise to realize that, as super prepared as you were, you really didn’t have a clue about, well anything. There was an ‘L’ plate firmly fastened to the front of your highly attractive nursing bra (nothing sexier than a bra that can pop open at any second to show off a hugely swollen breast) that you really and truly had not expected to be there.

The stuff that was unfolding wasn’t included in ‘What To Expect’, or ‘Up the Duff’ (your pregnancy bible), nor had any of your mama friends enlightened you as to the icky, amusing and downright bizarre moments you’d experience in those first few weeks. These are the glorious things you’ve probably forgotten now that you have a toddler who can feed himself and sleep longer than three hours at a time (please god, let that be true).

1. After the birth, you will waddle.

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Yep, you’ll waddle. Ever seen those women gingerly pushing a plastic bassinette down the maternity ward corridor and wondered why they appeared to have a large carrot stuck, to put it politely, up their bottoms? No matter what your birth was like, if the baby comes out the natural exit point, the pushing will make you sore, really sore. To the point where it may take you close to 5 minutes to get comfortable in a chair. You were not prepared for this, first time around. “Why is my bum sore?” you may have whined to the midwife. “That would be due to the 3.5kgs baby you just pushed out using only your pelvic floor,” was her reply.

2. There will be blood.

Not taking the birth into account, post partum bleeding is epic. When they say ‘moderate to heavy’ they mean ‘oh dear lord there is a flood in my underwear.’ Not pleasant but with the help of a load of black knickers and maternity pads, you’ll survive (remember that wings are your best friend).

3. You will still look (and feel) nine months pregnant but your belly will have taken on the consistency of masticated play-dough; squidgy, but solid, jiggly but kind of firm.

This may make you feel a bit yucky. Remember, you didn’t really like touching your belly for a few days after Ollie’s birth, as it just felt ‘weird’. This will pass and you’ll gradually stop looking so rotund.

4. You will be left alone with your newborn, usually within an hour of pushing him or her out.

Most maternity hospitals have a ‘rooming in’ policy in place. A fancy term for the fact that it will be you and the baby (and possibly a roommate) very soon after birth. Remember the look of abject horror you shot Adam when, after settling us in our room, the midwife left with a cheery ‘buzz us if you need anything,’ and we were left alone, staring down at a brand new baby? This will happen again.

5. Nipples can bleed and blister.

For the love of god woman, get this sorted as soon as baby opens its mouth, looking for a lovely nipple to suckle, this time around. Remember, breastfeeding is bloody hard work in the first few days and getting it wrong can make it even harder.

6. You will leak milk everywhere.

The first week of being at home last time around saw the wooden floorboards spotted with dried dots of breast milk from leaking boobs who were allowed free reign as it was too painful to wear anything remotely resembling a bra or shirt. This will improve but draping a towel around yourself 24/7 (a fetching look that goes very well with your post partum belly and enormously swollen breasts) is useful.

7. Going to the loo for both a number one and a number two will be scary.

Depending on the outcome of your birth, it may well be terrifying. This is normal and will again be a hilarious topic of conversation when Adam arrives home after a day at work (not really). Ask your midwife for stool softener if it all becomes a little too *ahem* hard.

8. People will ask you when you think you’ll have the next one approximately three minutes after giving birth.

Ok, so three minutes might be a slight exaggeration but it will seem like a similar time gap. Never mind that the stitches are still fresh, something about a fresh baked newborn seems to trigger people’s vocal desire for you to continue pro-creating.

9. People will enquire about your body and bodily functions in a similar fashion as to how one usually enquires about the weather.

This is not just restricted to medical professionals who have a legitimate reason for asking. No, no, no. Friends, family, the woman walking behind you in Target will often want to know how you’re healing, how your boobs are feeling, when your post partum belly is expected to shrink, the list goes on. Tell them as much or as little as you feel necessary (a severe case of sleep deprivation combined with husband returning to work cabin fever may have seen me blurting out that I was having trouble with my nipples, while purchasing a load of bread from the local bakery. I don’t go there so much anymore.)

10. It will be more terrifying and wonderful than you ever could have expected in a million years.

Try and enjoy the good moments and remember, you will eventually, sleep again.

Naomi is a freelance writer, magazine gal and mum to baby Oliver and cats Oscar and Felix. A talented singer of nursery rhymes, bircher muesli devotee and lover of all things lipstick, she spends most of her time muddling her way through motherhood and blogging about the results (as well as other scintillating topics). You can follow her on twitter @NaomiCotterill or check at her (fledgling) blog at notjustamummy.com

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