Spoiler alert warning: there are some things about those first few weeks of motherhood that mothers keep to themselves. After you’ve joined the motherhood club, you’ll be privy to a world of information you never knew existed. Can’t wait that long? Fast track your membership and discover what really happens after your baby is born.
The secret life after birth
Some things about being a new mum are scattered throughout baby literature — like sleepless nights, dealing with colic and the inevitable fascination that all mothers develop with their little one’s bowel movements.
Other things aren’t as prolific. While new mums discuss these things with each other to no end, they seem to go largely unsaid in pregnancy circles. Why? Maybe it’s because mothers are too polite, don’t want to scare pregnant women, or are just too darn sleep-deprived to remember that they happened at all.
Milk takes time to come in
From around the fourth month of your pregnancy, your body has been producing colostrum, which is the first milk you will feed your baby. Around 3–4 days after your baby is born, your milk will “come in”, meaning you’ll experience a change in the volume and composition of the milk. While 3–4 days is the “average” time it takes for your milk to come in, some mothers will be waiting five or six days. If you’re concerned your milk hasn’t come in after seven days, make an appointment with your doctor or midwife.
Breasts leak… a lot
As you find your way in those early weeks, it’s likely you’ll be dealing with leakage issues. A lot of them. After your milk has come in, expect an oversupply as your breasts adjust to your baby’s feeding schedule. It’s not uncommon to wake up in a pool of milk, be out in a public place and realise you have a large wet patch in the centre of your breast, or to start leaking when you hear someone else’s baby crying.
Breastfeeding does hurt
Heard that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt if you’re doing it correctly? While this is true eventually, it’s during those early days when you and your baby are finding your way that you will experience the largely unavoidable pain from sore and cracked nipples, as well as engorged breasts.
It’s not only your nipples that take a beating, either. Breastfeeding also helps your uterus to contract back into its original shape: Good news, right? The downside is that these contractions can be painful. Thankfully, they won’t be as painful as those you experienced during labour!
What to expect when bringing a newborn home: The first month >>
As you give birth to your baby, you also bid farewell to that nice, round pregnancy belly. In its place you’ll be dealing with something resembling a jiggling jellyfish, and you’ll see just how much the skin and muscles have stretched over the past nine months. Luckily, this is only temporary and you may be able to start doing light exercises as early as 24–48 hours after your birth to rebuild your core.
Thin on top
Unfortunately, you may notice you’re losing a lot of hair in those first few months due to fluctuating hormone levels. You’ll want to remember all those compliments you received about your luscious pregnancy locks when you’re scooping clumps of hair out of your shower drain.
You fed who, when?
When you haven’t had more than two consecutive hours of sleep for days, if not weeks, you’d be forgiven for not remembering the last time you fed your little cherub. Some mothers like to keep track of their feeds as it helps them to plan their days, while others just go with the flow. You’ll soon find out which option you are more comfortable with.