THE BLOG

8 Things You Didn't Expect After Having a Baby

07/29/2014 01:31 EDT | Updated 09/28/2014 05:59 EDT
Studio-Annika via Getty Images

Before I delivered by first son I knew basically nothing about post-delivery recovery. I knew a minimal amount from medical school. There would be bleeding and soreness. I didn't need a medical degree to assume that. What to really expect was a mystery. These aren't things that moms and moms-to-be discuss very often, at least not in my social circle.

What to really expect was a mystery.

So let's demystify.

What should you expect in the first few weeks after birth?

Breastfeeding struggles

There is a taboo among moms in discussing breast-feeding difficulties. In my experience as a pediatrician at least 90 per cent of new moms have some problems in breastfeeding their newborn. But most have never spoken to anyone who had the same struggles. Breastfeeding is not easy, nor intuitive for most new moms. You are not alone! And there are plenty of excellent professionals available to help. For more on getting off to a great start check out my earlier blog. For more information on how to store breast milk, visit my site.

Breastfeeding is not easy, nor intuitive for most new moms.

Vaginal pain

I assume most women suspect some vaginal pain post vaginal delivery, though many are shocked by how much it hurts, especially when voiding, coughing, sneezing, walking and sitting. The vast majority of women will feel 99 per cent better within a week, but give it some time. Sitz baths and witch hazel are godsends as far as I'm concerned.

Uterine pain

I was not prepared for the intensity of my abdominal pain when I breastfed for the first time. It hurt as intensely as labour. This is your body's way of shrinking your uterus down to the pre-pregnancy size, and it hurts like hell. The first couple days are the most painful, and more intense in breastfeeding moms during a feed. Within 48-72 hours this is much better.

Bleeding

Along with the abdominal pain above you will experience vaginal bleeding and clots as your uterus 'involutes.' The feeling is gross but should only last a few days. Within a week or so the discharge turns to yellow/whit and fades over time.

Most women feed sad, anxious, tired, teary and irritable at some point in the first weeks post partum.

Baby blues

Most women feed sad, anxious, tired, teary and irritable at some point in the first weeks post partum. This occurs in the vast majority of new moms. This is related to physical and emotional changes related to pregnancy and delivery. Your hormones and body are changing a lot. Of course, if this sadness intensifies and worsens, if you have concerns for safety for yourself or your child, or feel you need help in any way, please contact your doctor. Between ten to 25 per cent of new moms have post-partum depression and have feelings of guilt, anxiety mood swings and persistent sadness up to a year post-partum. If you are feeling excessive sadness or anxiety you are not alone!

Constipation

Many women are constipated after delivery from hormone fluctuations and drugs given in labour. This combined with haemorrhoids, which many women experience in pregnancy makes for a difficult time in the washroom in the first few weeks post-partum.

Incontinence

Yes, many women post delivery will have leaking of urine and stool. I'm sure you weren't expecting that! Delivery stretches the area a lot and muscle control can be decreased. This too usually improves with time. If not, see your doctor.

Hot and cold flashes

Hormone changes and blood flow variation can make your internal thermostat go crazy. These drove me nuts but usually don't last for more than a few weeks.

I know, it all sounds amazing doesn't it?! Though pregnancy, delivery and the newborn period may be less than exciting, you will get through it and will relish in the joys of being a mom.

MORE ON HUFFPOST:

Parenting Confessional