When I found out I was pregnant with my first child in the fall of 2019 I was so excited. I was also very nervous. I was the first in my circle of friends to experience pregnancy and didn’t have too many people to turn to when it came to questions about pregnancy and postpartum. Pretty quickly, I found out that there were a lot of things that people either didn’t mention or definitely downplayed. Here are ten things Toledo Moms contributors and I wish we would have known!
How tired you might be in the first trimester
I am usually a total night owl, but during weeks 6-12 of my pregnancy I was in bed by 8 every single night. I was fortunate enough to work two blocks away from home so I also made a habit of lunchtime naps. It is common knowledge that you might be tired during the first trimester but I definitely didn’t know I’d be THAT tired!
What baby kicks and movements feel like
I had no idea what baby kicks and movements felt like. I thought I would definitely know when it was happening, but it turns out those first movements feel more like gas than kicks. Worried that I hadn’t felt movement, I brought it up to my doctor. Once I talked with her I realized I had been feeling my baby move for weeks.
Each pregnancy and delivery is so different
I read a ton of books and various blog posts about pregnancy. It became pretty evident that most of those experiences were not the same as mine. I also talked to some of my family members who had recently given birth. I assumed that my labor and delivery experience would be the same as theirs. It definitely was not!
Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different
I had always planned to breastfeed if I was able, but also had no problem with formula feeding. The biggest benefit of breastfeeding, to me, was not getting your period back for awhile. Imagine my surprise when I got my period back at six weeks postpartum! Another myth about breastfeeding is that it helps you lose weight. I definitely lost weight but there are plenty of other contributors that had the opposite happen!
Newborns might sleep a lot, but not always for extended periods of time
I was always told that newborns slept a lot. My baby may have slept a lot, but for the first 8 weeks, they were in shorter increments. We were lucky to get two hour stretches out of her! I probably should’ve known that she wouldn’t sleep for long periods of time. I am here to clarify newborn sleep for you: their total sleep might be a lot, but the increments are not long!
Postpartum recovery can be painful and a long process
I knew childbirth took a toll on your body, whether you gave birth naturally or via c-section. I also naively thought the recovery for vaginal birth would be easier and relatively painless. For some people that might be true, but it was not the case for me and some of the other contributors. I had second degree tearing and couldn’t sit comfortably for over two weeks! I was in constant pain and could do little to relieve it since I was breastfeeding. Once I figured out that the pain was normal, I felt a little better. That is one thing I definitely wish I was better prepared for!
Your body takes a while to get back to normal
While I knew my body wouldn’t bounce back right away, I didn’t know everything that would need time to recover. I knew my stomach and vaginal area would need to heal, but I had no idea my legs would swell and I wouldn’t be able to poop for days. My nurses offhandedly mentioned stool softeners and I kind of ignored it. Fast forward to day four and I sent my husband to the pharmacy. Pooping is not a glamorous thing to talk about, but this was one of the biggest struggles for me! I was terrified of popping a stitch and was not prepared for this (apparently) normal experience.
Pelvic floor therapy is your friend!
As one of my fellow contributors put it, everyone tells you how to take care of a baby but no one tells you how to take care of yourself! I was in a lot of pain for weeks postpartum. A friend mentioned pelvic floor therapy and it was a game-changer! It is not normal to pee yourself a little bit after a baby and it is not normal for sex to hurt after you’ve been cleared. Pelvic floor therapy helped me with all of these things!
Your emotions will be everywhere, and that is okay
I always knew that pregnancy could make you emotional, but I kind of thought that would go away once I had the baby. That was not the case! I cried so easily in the first few weeks. Some of it was lack of sleep, but a lot of it could be contributed to my hormones trying to rebalance. If you are feeling sad, it is normal. If you are feeling more than that, make sure you check symptoms of postpartum depression. It is all too common and not talked about enough!
Postpartum hair loss is no joke
I had heard about postpartum hair loss but thought it might just be a couple of extra strands here and there. I also thought it happened right away. While for some people that might be true, it was not the case for me. When I was two months postpartum, I thought I was in the clear. Once month three came, I quickly realized I was mistaken. I lost so much hair! Every shower I noticed chunks of hair coming out. We had to use Draino more than a couple of times. The postpartum hair loss continued through month six and my hair looked and felt so much thinner! I am no seven months postpartum and my hair has finally stopped coming out in chunks!
These are some of the things I wish I would have known. Is there anything else you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments!