- Family and Parenting
How Much Does it Hurt to Have a Baby?
It really does hurt to have a baby. You probably had a pretty good idea that getting the baby out was going to be a bit painful but I'm sure you didn't imagine that there would be so much stretching, bruising, tearing and bleeding. However, you did get a perfect, beautiful baby out of the deal so at least the reward was worth it.
Let's start with talking about your head. Your hair of course is a mess. Hopefully you have had a chance to wash it at the hospital and it wont be much of an issue until ti starts falling out in clumps in a few more months. We'll talk about that later. Some women have their faces swelling up like cabbage Patch dolls in the first twelve hours after delivery. Their cheeks get round and their eyes were so puffy that they have no peripheral vision. It will go away. Be sure to have ice packs handy before you come home from the hospital. One for between your legs and one for your eyes. Frozen peas in my opinion are the best! Some women will push so hard that they can break blood vessels in the whites of their eyes. Keep in mind that little blood vessels and capillaries are concentrated on your face and you may notice that you have constellations of little star burst on both of your cheeks.
As full of water as your facial tissues may be, your lips and mouth will almost certainly be bone dry. You are deprived of water from the minute you enter the hospital, so it may have been hours since you've had anything cool and wet to drink so you may find yourself with lips so cracked they might just fall of your face. Keep a good lip balm at your side at all times. Fruit juice that first day can help get your blood sugar back up after hours of hard work and no food too.
Chances are you probably have a headache. Not only did you not eat for hours, you receive pain medication on an empty stomach which pretty much leads to a hangover headache.. Sleep and food are good prescriptions but fluids are the most important thing. The first sign of dehydration is usually a headache.
Let's get back to the hair. Pregnancy gives you a thick head of gorgeous hair. I'm sorry, it's not yours to keep. Your hair will fall out in clumps, usually when you're most feeling depressed about how you look. The fallout can seem massive but you're not going bald. People looking at you may not even be able to tell. Your body is just releasing the hair follicles that it held on to so tightly during pregnancy. You hair may also change it's characteristics. some go from blond to brown and others that have always had bone straight hair all of a sudden have curly hair.
Most of us carry our tension in our neck and shoulders. This is compounded after childbirth, especially from sleeping in a hospital bed with one of those cardboard pillows (hopefully you read my other writing that said to bring your own pillow from home). You're going to want a heating pad handy. If you had 'back labor' then I don't even have to begin to tell you about how sore your spine probably is. Some women had their babies pushing so hard against their backs that their tailbones bruised. These can take months to heal but it will eventually go away. Do as much stretching as you can. Yoga is the cure of all evil. I know you have a new baby but even if you can squeeze in 5 minutes of yoga stretches it will help more than you know. If you can familiarize yourself with a few routine of movements prior to childbirth it will come in handy right now.
Let's talk about your breasts. for the first several hours after giving birth you will have the same large breasts you had at the end of pregnancy. You may notice a little leakage and you may not. It's like a milkman comes and delivers milk. On the second or third day after delivery, the milkman never comes unnoticed. First you may experience tingling in your breasts, almost like you need to scratch inside your skin. This sensation will be compounded by the feeling that your breasts are becoming progressively warmer and warmer. In a little time as a couple of hours, your breasts can nearly double in size. If you are fair-skinned you will see the major vein networks and my be able to distinguish the milk ducts leading to your nipples. You may not know that the milk doesn't come out at the tip of your nipple like on a baby bottle. It comes out of several holes all around the nipple like a sprinkler.
Down to your belly. Yes it looks like a big lump of risen bread dough. It's still fat but probably looks worse than when you were pregnant because it was hard and smooth and now it's all lumpy and folded over. Don't cry. this will improve everyday. Most people say crunches. I say yoga. Yoga strengthens your body and stretches and does wonders for your mental clarity. If you have a C-section, your belly will have this lumpy consistency and an incision. You might notice that the skin looks yellowish underneath the dressings but that is just the stain from the Betadine solution. Not only does your belly look pretty bad, but it might be tender to. Since you have no muscle tone in your abdomen at this point, your tummy is at the complete mercy of gravity. If you roll onto one side there goes your belly. If you had a C-section, keep this gravity thing in mind because it can hurt a lot to do anything that tugs a the incision. Just lay a pillow over your tummy and remember to press the pillow against you gently whenever you stand, roll, or cough or sneeze. The pressure helps!
Don't bother with mirrors if you can avoid them for a bit. Especially for the few hours after delivery. You don't want to look at your skin until the swelling has gone down and the bruising has faded. All of this water retention will however remedy itself within the next few days. You may know about night sweats. One night soon you may awaken to find that you not only have sweated enough to turn your pj's into a dishrag but enough to have soaked right through your sheets. These sweats will happen several times in the next few weeks. You may just want to sleep on a beach towel so you don't have to keep changing your sheets to add to your pain and tasks. Cotton is your friend when it comes to your wardrobe.
Finally don't judge your recovery time based on anyone else or what you have heard. Every women is different, every situation, delivery and pain is different so your body will heal at it's own time.
- SURVIVING MOTHERHOOD
Be sure to visit my surviving motherhood blog