Becoming a mom is an ongoing journey that goes way beyond the delivery room. With the focus so firmly on getting through pregnancy and giving birth, you might not be aware of some of the most common things a new mom experiences.
When your baby arrives, you’ll likely be obsessed with her size, weight, sleeping patterns and feeding habits. It’s normal for a new mom to put herself at the bottom of the list. But your baby will reap the benefits if you take some time to familiarize yourself with the most common things a new mom experiences. When you know what to expect, you’re in control! And don’t worry, there’s nothing to be scared of.
1. Am I still pregnant?
When baby’s out, the belly goes, right? Well, not exactly. At least, not right away. Be prepared to wait up to eight weeks for your uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size. In the meantime, acknowledge the incredible journey your body has gone through and the wonderful gift it brought into your life. That’s definitely worth another couple of months in your maternity jeans.
2. The mystery of the disappearing breasts
It’s not only your belly that goes through drastic changes during and after pregnancy; your breasts go through quite a transformation too. They’ll be at their biggest right after you give birth, when your milk comes in. If you decide to breastfeed, then they’ll likely remain pretty large for a good few months. If you don’t breastfeed or when you stop breastfeeding, your breasts might become shadows of their former, juicy selves — almost overnight. It’s not uncommon for women to drop a cup size after pregnancy and breastfeeding, but other factors affect the likelihood of sagging, including age, history of smoking, BMI and bra size before pregnancy. Suck it up, and invest in a great push-up bra.
3. Hair no more
Pregnancy can have amazing effects on your body, including fuller, shinier hair. In most cases, it goes back to normal after the baby is born, but it also has to play catch up. It’s time to lose all the hair that didn’t fall out during pregnancy, which can make it seem as if you’re losing excessive amounts of hair. Don’t worry, it will all even out in the end. According to experts, hair loss peaks around three to four months after birth but usually returns to normal within six to 12 months. So it’s no cause for alarm, although you will have to start searching for a miracle hair product that will give you that incredible pregnancy hair.
4. Emotional roller coaster
It’s not only physical changes you should prepare yourself for after giving birth — it affects your mental and emotional health as well. Most new moms experience some level of mood swings, which might be due to a range of factors: hormonal changes, physical discomfort, sleep deprivation and the enormous adjustments that becoming a mom requires. If you’re feeling a little blue, then take comfort from the fact that it’s completely normal and that lots of other new moms feel exactly the same way. Pay attention to your moods, and if you don’t start to feel better after a few weeks, or if you think you are feeling worse rather than better, then have a chat with your doctor. You might be suffering from postpartum depression. Again, it’s very common: 1 in 5 moms will experience depression at some stage after giving birth.
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5. To poop or not to poop
It’s impossible to talk about life after childbirth without mentioning poop — and we don’t mean what’s in your newborn’s diaper. Your first bowel movement after delivery is likely to be the last thing on your mind — until the time comes. It’s absolutely natural to feel apprehensive about pushing anything out of your body, considering what it’s just been through. Fear, embarrassment, your weakened stomach muscles and concern about splitting your stitches — don’t worry, it won’t happen — might combine to make moving your bowels the most daunting prospect since you entered the delivery room. Gentle walking around and consuming plenty of fibre and liquids will make it easier. Ask your doctor for a stool softener and mild laxative if you need a little extra help.
6. It’s not just your boobs that will leak
While pooping might be a problem, peeing won’t. In fact, you might find yourself doing it constantly. At times with very little warning. Or no warning at all. Welcome to the delights of postpartum urinary incontinence. Unsurprisingly, it’s not something most new moms want to discuss, but it’s very common. The best way to solve this little problem is to start doing your Kegel exercises (clench those muscles that would stop you from peeing). Do them every day, working up to three sets of 30 clenches. Be patient with your body — it can take up to six months (longer for some women) to regain full bladder control.
7. More downstairs developments
Another side effect of childbirth that doesn’t often come up over coffee is hemorrhoids. These are simply swollen blood vessels that appear in the rectal area. Ranging from the size of a raisin to the size of a grape, they can be itchy, painful or cause rectal bleeding during a bowel movement. Not particularly pleasant, but relatively common postpartum. If they don’t go away on their own, then a hemorrhoid relief cream might help.
8. Let’s talk about sex
If you weren’t aware of the differences between men and women before giving birth, then you sure will be now. No more so than when it comes to sex. While your partner might be ready to pick up where you left off before the baby arrived, you might be unwilling to get intimate. This doesn’t mean you’re not attracted to your partner or that you will never want to have sex again. It’s just another common side effect of having a baby. Apart from concerns you might have about the physical aspects of intercourse, you’re likely to simply be far too exhausted to do anything but collapse into bed at the end of the day. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and share your concerns with your partner. With his support and patience, you should be raring to go in another few weeks.
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9. Time to go shoe shopping
This is a strange one. Your feet are likely to have been swollen during pregnancy, making it difficult to wear anything other than slippers. Some women find that their feet don’t ever go back to their pre-pregnancy size. So if you seem to have gone up a shoe size, you’re not imagining it. Hey, it’s a good excuse to buy new shoes, right?
10. Life is so much better than it ever was
Having a baby is painful, traumatic, stressful, exhausting and confusing. But it can also be the best experience of your life. So we have to end on a positive note. Probably the biggest change you will notice after giving birth is that you now have a wonderful little person in your life who thinks you’re the best thing ever. Enjoy!