Babies and Body: What Nobody Tells You
When I was pregnant with my son, everybody I knew and complete strangers loved to put in their two cents on how and what I should do with my soon-to-be-born child. They tell you things like "don't pick him up every time he cries because it will spoil him," "don't let him sleep in your bed because he will never sleep on his own," and even "you shouldn't breastfeed because its indecent and you have to get back to work so you won't have time anyway." Always eager to give advice, they never stop to ask what you plan to do. It is easy to plan but it is much harder to know exactly what your baby will enjoy and will not. Everyone likes discussing how to give baths, what baby poop looks like if you feed a certain way but they don't tell you some of the most important and gross (and a little weird) things that happen with your baby and your body after delivery.
His First Poop
Your baby may poop for the first time in the hospital for the nurses or you may be lucky enough to catch it. The first few times your baby poops are DISGUSTING!! Her poop will be a very common topic of discussion for you for the next few years and you will forget some things, but her first poops are ones you will never forget. If you have changed a baby's diaper before, odds are that you have seen the lovely, mustard yellow that is breastfed or the regular looking solid poop of formula. A baby's first poop looks like tar. Yeah; it looks like a big, thick, black blob of tar came from your precious baby's butt. When you wipe it, its green and stringy. This first poop is called meconium and is made of all the things that your baby ingested in the womb like amniotic fluid, urine, lanugo, and bile. They may have this poop three or four times before their body starts adjusting to the breast milk or formula.
Is it okay to require people to clean something in your home in order to visit/hold your new baby?
Your First Poop
Delivery may seem like the toughest part of having a baby, but nobody likes to talk about the first time you have to go to the toilet after pushing a baby out of you. If you have a good hospital, they will give you what is called a peri bottle; its a squirt bottle with one or several holes on the lid that you fill with warm water. You will need this because your body will not want to let the urine flow and squirting the warm water on yourself while sitting on the toilet will allow your sore, inflamed muscles to relax and let loose. Pooping after delivery is another story. Your hospital will probably offer you stool softeners because they cannot let you leave until you have pooped. If you do not already have some at home, buy a box or bottle of stool softeners on your way home. You will need them. If you do not, you could become constipated. Should it get bad enough, you could develop a bowel obstruction and may need surgery. So, avoid the hassle and buy some stool softeners (maybe even an enema kit for if you do get constipated to try before rushing to the hospital).
Smooth as a Baby's Bottom
A baby's skin is so soft. Everybody loves the feel of a new baby's skin. Lotions and creams have been created to try and mimic the feeling and moisture of their skin. In the womb, they have a protective layer of hair covering their body called lanugo. Most of this hair is shed while still in the uterus but some babies are born with hair all over them. Also protecting a baby's skin in-utero is a waxy coating called vernix. The layer of vernix is what makes your baby look grey and dirty when they are born. The hospital nurses usually wash most of this off during their first bath, though many women are now opting to delay the first bath and let the vernix absorb into the skin. Whether your baby is born still covered in lanugo or not, their skin will shed and peel during the first few weeks of life. It may seem like a problem, like a peeling sunburn, but it is completely normal. When their skin peels, try and resist the urge to pull it and peel it off more, it will come off on its own.
When it comes to your baby's head, you know to be extra careful of their soft-spots, or fontanels. These soft-spots are there because the skull of a baby is not fused together at birth to allow for the head to adjust shape for easy passage in the birth canal. It is essential to be careful with the soft-spots because just under the thin layer of skin is their brain. What nobody tells you, is that if you are staring at the cute little bundle in your arms, you may notice the soft-spot pulsating. It is sort of scary the first time you notice it. Should your baby's soft-spot seem sunken in, do not automatically assume that something is wrong. Before you rush off to the hospital, give it a few minutes and it could resolve itself; or, your baby may be just a little dehydrated. Try giving him some water, formula, or nursing. However, if you are concerned and do not want to wait, do not be afraid to give your doctor a call to see what they recommend.
Contractions and Bleeding
Do not, I repeat, do not wear your good clothes for a few weeks after delivery. You will be wearing some lovely mesh underwear your hospital provides with the largest maxi-pads you have ever seen. You will be bleeding for some time after delivery. If you breastfeed, you will experience contractions and gushes of blood while your baby is nursing. Breastfeeding does help the bleeding stop quicker than if you bottle feed. Your vagina and labia will be sore, and probably have at least a few stitches, and it may hurt to sit down. To help yourself heal, draw a nice warm, soap free, bath that is a few inches deep. Sit in it for a few minutes; repeat two to three times a day until you feel better. This should help the inflammation and tenderness ease much quicker.
Sex After Birth
One thing your partner will be concerned about after delivery is when you can get back to sex. Usually, the stitches you are given are the kind that dissolve so you do not need to return to the hospital or office soon after delivery. While still in the hospital, your doctor will schedule a six-week (or later) check-up for you to make sure you are healing properly and there is nothing she needs to do. Sex is going to be weird. Your vagina will probably not be fully healed after six weeks but that is usually when your doctor will give you the go-ahead if you feel comfortable. The first few times may feel like you cannot feel anything at all down there. I had a meltdown, worried it would stay that way but it did not. My body was simply not ready yet. Take your time and do not rush. If you are uncomfortable, wait a little longer. Your partner will just have to deal with holding off.
Your body and your whole life have just changed. It will all take some time to get used to. Standing by the crib watching them sleep or listening to hear them breathe is totally normal. Not loving your baby instantly is also normal. The motherhood bond will kick in soon but right after tearing your body apart, you may not love her right away and don't worry. You will. It will be all right.