Pregnancy is probably the most nerve wracking, emotionally draining, unpredictable, life altering, body altering and nauseating time in a woman’s life. This can be said particularly if it is her first baby. Each woman is unique and thus is each pregnancy. There are many questions that a woman may have and a range of professionals she may want to seek to ask advice and access services. Unfortunately not everyone asks questions and some crucial points are often missed especially if antenatal classes haven’t been attended.
We asked a number of women about things they were never told could happen during pregnancy, birth and during the postnatal period. Here is what they said:
“I wasn’t told a LOT of things before having my first. Sounds stupid but I had no idea how much you bleed after, didn’t know it took 3 days for milk to come in, the list goes on really”
“The amount of times you might wee yourself”
“Your friend’s will all disappear after the novelty of a new baby wears off only the true ones stick around”
“How glamorous it is, all the bleeding / leaking / all the after stuff really!! After pains, not being able to pee or poop without it hurting!”
“The absolute agony of weeing with stitches”
“The money you saved not buying tampons and pads throughout pregnancy is nothing compared to the amount of thick pads you need after birth and your period after baby” Heather R
“No one told me you get after pains! Was pissed right off “
“You always hear about the positive things. No one tells you quite how unglamorous it can be haha”
“No one tells you how common it is that you may not bond with your baby straight away”
“The midwife sticking her finger up your bum straight after giving birth ”
“The placenta birth and all the after pains. How painful and exhausting breastfeeding can be. How weak your bladder is whilst heavily pregnant and after. How lonely parenthood can be at times and how much pressure and strain a baby and child can put on your relationship, especially at the beginning when you’re not in a routine and are completely exhausted xx”
“How much pain you can be in after and how much you may bleed. I couldn’t walk properly for over a week I was in so much pain inside” Leanne R
“No one told me I couldn’t have sex until 6 weeks after ”
“Your first poo “
“Spinal blocks f****** hurt! Your first poo! Especially after a section just let it fall out!
When your milk comes in you feel like you have rocks on your chest! And they look like a boob job gone wrong”
“Your first wee after having stiches!!”
“During in childbirth it feels like you have a lighter being held against your tuppence ”
“That your hair thins and falls out! Or your legs and feet swell up and full or fluid in the few days afterwards…literally couldn’t get my slippers on”
Some of the other issues that were mentioned were:
- The severity of sleepless nights. You can never imagine how much sleep deprivation you I’ll be susceptible to until your baby comes along. Contrary to popular belief, newborn babies cannot be trained to sleep through the night as their stomachs are too small to to sustain them for more than a few hours. Waking every couple of hours through the night for a newborn baby, even one that is 6, 8, 10, 12 weeks can help protect against SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) Knowing this information and being prepared for it won’t make you feel any less tired but it can help you prepare for it.
- The fact that Babies don’t want to be put down. People assume that a baby after spending 9 months in a nice warm cosy womb will be happy to be fed then put down in a crib to spend the next couple of hours in silence until they are ready to feed again. Think again! Babies instinctively want to be next to you, always. You may not anticipate the amount of time that you end up walking around with them glued to you. This, as draining as it may be is normal and is not spoiling your baby.
- Breastfeeding can take time, perseverance and patience. Some women and babies get on straight away with breastfeeding. The baby latches on like a dream and they have no problems. For others, it can take a bit of time to get things going and a lack of support to get the right latch in the first 24 hours can cause nipple soreness even if the baby has managed to get the hang of latching with good positioning. Many women are not prepared for how challenging it might be for them but that it is more than likely short lived
- You can get pregnant very quickly after having a baby so be careful! You are extremely fertile during the weeks after birth so unless you are intending on having 2 babies that are the same age for a few months of the year, think about contraception.
It all seems rather negative doesn’t it? Well there is one positive thing that lots of women are never told when they are expecting their first baby. No one could explain to you how much in love with your child, how many hours you’ll spend staring at them in awe that you have made this tiny human. No one can imagine how much love your child will have for you and that their total dependence on you is the most overwhelming, precious thing ever.