Ten Things No One Tells You About Having a Baby
The things you do and maybe don't want to know about one of life's most amazing experiences.
The experience of bringing a new life into this world can only be described as miraculous. The bond a mother shares with her child is truly the strongest type of love that exists. A lot of pregnancies start out with a feeling of utter delight and excitement. Watching that little bump grow, looking at the ultra-sound pictures and buying baby clothes are a joyful part of the journey. However, I have discovered that there seems to be a silent understanding. Don’t terrify a mom-to-be with some of the crazy-scary stuff you have to go through when you have a baby.
Here are 10 things I discovered for myself … (disclaimer — these are based on my personal experience so may not be true for everyone).
1. You may not be the glowing pregnant woman you hoped to be.
Pregnancy is tough on your body. While some woman seem to experience nine months of blissful radiance, some find it pretty darn unpleasant. Nausea, heart-burn, constipation, swollen feet and absolute exhaustion seemed to be my lot.
2.You get to have some really personal time with a doctor.
When you’re pregnant your brain seems to shut out the serious invasion of privacy that ensues. Doctors, midwives and nurses start sticking stuff into the dark crevices of your body. The weird thing is you seem to be able to just roll with it.
3. Your birth may or may not go according to plan.
The mother’s and baby’s safety during birth is always the priority. Your sweet ideas of scented candles and pretty music may not seem quite as important once you experience the raw pain of pushing a 3kg to 4kg bundle of joy out of your seemingly narrow vagina. Sometimes attempts at a natural birth end in emergency c-sections — and that is totally ok. If you have a happy, healthy baby and mom at the end you have been more than successful.
4. There will come a point when all sense of propriety is lost.
I have always been a very private person. A strong sense of the good old British “stiff-upper lip”. The day I had my first child I realised quite quickly that you have to accept whatever indignity may come your way! You will have people looking frequently at your nether regions. You will be poked and prodded and its strangely OK. At that point you know that you have to get that baby out and somehow that seems to be more important than anything else.
5.Forceps, cuts and tears may be part of the deal
Sometimes babies have big heads that don’t quite want to come out. So the doctor may need to cut a bigger “hole” for baby to make his/ her exit. They usually use local anesthetics so it’s not too sore. Doctors sometimes have to use forceps or a vacuum extractor to help baby along. It sounds scary but in the moment it’s really not — it means your baby has almost arrived.
Those cuts and tears will hurt for quite a while afterwards. My first baby left me with stitches that took the doctor about an hour to complete. Sitting was so painful — people recommend sitting on a donut cushion. I didn’t get one — but I wish I did. I also learnt a handy tip to ease the burn caused by peeing — have a jug of warm water by the toilet and be sure to pour it over your painful parts while you pee. Another life-saver was the suggestion of drying your stitches with a hair-dryer after showering. Trust me it helps a lot.
Lastly, although this sounds like a terrible ordeal, you DO recover and you WILL feel normal again. It just takes some time. I know a lot of people who didn’t have any cuts or tearing and so I guess I was just on of the (un)lucky ones.
6. Your baby might look pretty ugly at first.
If you have ever watched a TV program where someone delivers a baby, you will notice the baby always looks positively angelic. Your baby won’t look like that. It will probably be purple, bloody, full of vermix (the white waxy stuff babies have to protect their skin inside the womb) with a funny shaped head. Oh yes, and there is that weird piece of chord that they clamp where the belly button will be. Don’t worry, your baby will look just as angelic as the TV ones but not immediately!
7. Your body will not instantly return to its pre-pregnancy awesomeness!
Your skin will be stretched, you may have stretch-marks and the general exhaustion of the whole ordeal may well lead to you feeling a little less than your best. The good news is that in time you do recover and you feel like yourself again.
8. Breastfeeding is difficult.
Before the birth of our first son, my husband and I were convinced that there was absolutely no other option above breastfeeding for our little boy. Maybe I am just a poor example but breastfeeding was probably more traumatic than giving birth. It was sore, my baby wouldn’t latch properly … he got to the point where he was so frustrated that he just refused to feed. Our first night home was a sleepless one … with a screaming 3-day old baby and two clueless parents. I couldn’t handle the pain and the stress so I gave up after a few days and switched to bottle feeding which worked like a dream. I lived with a terrible sense of guilt and failure for that decision — not because it affected us badly but because I felt like I didn’t meet up to society’s expectations. Now I realise that people shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed for whatever choice they make — we all have reasons for what we do.
9. You will love like you have never loved before.
Somewhere in all the chaos and the crying (you and the baby will be doing lots of crying), you will find the most beautiful sense of awe that you are holding YOUR child. You will find yourself staring at this perfect little human with the tiniest hands and feet and that cute little nose. Suddenly you will feel love like you have never felt before. You know that you would do anything for this tiny person … and it’s amazing.
10. Life will never be the same.
If you were hoping that baby would just slot right into your old routines, you are in for a shock. For starters, every outing from now on will require precision planning and execution. Don’t forget the baby wipes; the change of clothes; the cloth to wipe the baby puke off your pretty pink jersey (personal experience — ‘nuff said); the pram and the pacifier (God forbid you forget the pacifier)!
When they grow up a little be prepared to spend your weekends at birthday parties with bouncy castles and waterslides. (The cake is a plus.) After that it’s all those cute little sports matches … here in South Africa we are obsessed with cricket and rugby and the little guys will be playing sport just about every weekend. Cute… but forget about your plans to go to the mall!
I hope I haven’t scared anyone too much. The fact is I have two boys … so I did it all again about two and a half years after the first ordeal. I knew what I was in for and that didn’t stop me! It was easier the second time around because I knew what to expect. I was willing to do it all again because it was totally worth it. My sons are now nearly 15 and 12 years old and my life still hasn’t gone back to “normal” (whatever that is/ was). I’m OK with that …
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Angela Webster