By Doula Tory
Hello there Pretty Mamas!
For me, satisfaction comes not only in helping new families through the first month or two of their baby’s life, but in preparing them in advance for that simultaneously magical and messy time. Knowledge is power. The 4th trimester is chaos! At least partially eliminating the element of surprise makes the crazy ride more joyful and less frightening.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, from a friend, family member, or client: “Why didn’t they tell me?”
Seems to me that people will tell you horror stories of pregnancy and childbirth until they’re beyond blue in the face. But what of the—ha ha—sleepless, sexless horror stories of postpartum?
So, without further ado, I’d like to get your post-pregnancy education started with 7 things that you might like to know ABOUT YOUR BODY before you get there…
1. There will be blood. You will discharge a bloody substance called lochia for up to 6 weeks after baby’s birth. It will get lighter as time moves on. If it gets dark or bright red again after consistent and significant lightening, it means you’re doing too much too soon and need to rest.
2. Things MOVE. Even if breastfeeding has successfully sucked off the extra weight, even if you are ten pounds lighter than ever before…you will probably NOT fit into your favorite pre-pregnancy jeans. Hips spread, things change, organs shift in and out of place. Your body is different. I realize that breaking up with a good pair of jeans is hard to do…but—fear not—it’s also an excuse to go shopping.
3. Booby Trap? A seasoned postpartum doula takes a deep breath and a large cup of coffee before entering a family’s home on day 5 postpartum. It is common, on that day, to find Mom on the couch trembling and puffy; Dad sheet white with an Einstein-esque hair style. Why? Hormones crash on day 5…about when the real milk (beyond colostrum) comes in.
4. Beginner’s Luck? No such thing when it comes to postpartum. Whether it’s your first baby or your 17th, that first night home from the hospital is brutal. Without the the assistance of nurses, docs, visitors, and midwives, your body will feel the events of childbirth in a very real way. Exhaustion, fear, aches, pains…and also, an incredible swelling of beautiful emotion.
5. Losing It. In addition to your marbles, you may lose a few other things. Pounds, yes. TONS of sweat (sheets will be drenched). Also…hair. Start flipping through those magazines for looks with bangs, because regrowth is uneven and sprouty. There is little you can do to stop this phenomenon and it is worse for some women. Don’t worry…it truly is temporary. Promise.
6. Got… Milk? No?! Please, please, please…don’t panic. Anxiety (especially over milk production itself) SLOWS milk production. The truth is, milk does NOT come in right away. It is variable. Some women are engorged on night two, some finally feel a small let down on day seven. Stay strong and do not be bullied into supplementation unless YOU feel that it is the right thing to do. If you want to breastfeed, hang on and be patient. You can do it.
7. Like a… The old jokes strike up images of cavernous vaginas, with husbands asking docs to add an extra stitch or two. In reality? You will need to take your time and relearn the art of romance, for you will truly feel like a virgin…touched for the very first time. Your body has been through quite an adventure and will need to be treated with kindness, patience, and respect. Intercourse will seem unappealing. It will hurt. But it will also—eventually—feel good again.
Of course, the “babymoon” that is so near and dear to my heart is more than hair loss and hormonal melt down, blood stains and leaking nipples. Like love itself, having a baby is as pretty as it is messy; as fun as it is frustrating. Don’t believe me? How many people do you know with more than one child? They did it again…why? Because parenthood is the best. Someday, you will miss all the weeping and the wonder. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.