I’m going to let you new expecting moms in on some secrets that no one tells you and you have to figure out yourself AFTER the fact. Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, so everything I list is based on my experience (I have two daughters 8 years old and 4 years old) and the numerous accounts I hear from the parents of the hundreds of newborn babies I have photographed. This is in no way any substitution for true medical advice.
1.) When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I had a fairly easy pregnancy. I barely had any morning sickness and things were pretty smooth for the majority of the pregnancy. However, practically from the start, I acquired “pregnancy brain”. I would lose my keys, walk into rooms and forget why I walked in there, be on my cell phone talking to someone and start freaking out because I couldn’t find my cell phone. However, I was extremely confident that as soon as my beautiful baby made her entrance, my brain would return to its normal capacity. WRONG. Eight years later, and I still can’t remember what I ate for lunch 2 hours ago. The term “pregnancy brain” is very deceiving – it leads all first time moms to believe that once the baby arrives, your memory returns. However, that is not the case. It just simply morphs from pregnancy brain to “mommy brain”. It’s been 8 years now since I had my first daughter and the mommy brain isn’t going anywhere!
2.) After you delivery vaginally, you have 0 bladder control. I’m not talking about the little tinkles that start while you’re pregnant. I’m talking about that if you cough deeply or have a big sneeze within the first postpartum week or so, you will void your whole bladder. When I had my first daughter, I was “lucky” enough to have also had Swine Flu (officially known as H1N1). With it, I had a deep hacking cough. As soon as I gave birth, every single time I coughed I would completely wet myself. I went through about 7 or 8 changes of clothes a day for myself. I had to have large rubber pads on any chair I was planning to sit in. It didn’t matter that I was still wearing those huge maternity pads that are as big as diapers. One deep cough and it was all over. Fortunately, I did not have Swine Flu with my youngest daughter. So I didn’t have the hacking cough. Therefore, I think I only completely peed myself once from a big sneeze. But be warned, ladies. I had no idea.
3.) You will be washing a lot more laundry that you ever thought possible. I know you’re thinking “of course I will be – I’ll have a new baby who will be wetting and pooping through their clothes and I’ll just buy lots of extra newborn clothes and do a few extra newborn loads of laundry.” Nope. The majority of the extra laundry you will be doing, will be that of your and your husband’s clothes. Your new little bundle of joy will be peeing, pooping and puking all over both of you. Remember to pack along extra clothes for you and daddy when leaving the house!
4.) In the first few weeks, you will feel horrible. You will be so exhausted, you will be sore, you will be overwhelmed, and your hormones will be all over the place (even more so than they were during pregnancy). But this part WILL PASS. You just need to make it to about the 6 – 8 week mark. By then, your hormones will start to settle and you’ll start to be in a routine. Most pain from birth (vaginal tears, c-section scars) will be healed.
5.) You might experience more leg and feet swelling AFTER you give birth then when you were pregnant. I was fortunate that my swelling during pregnancy was pretty minimal. But after giving birth, for a good 1 to 2 weeks after, my feet swelled up something fierce! I was told that it was just my body getting rid of the extra fluid from pregnancy. (If you experience excessive swelling postpartum, always let your doctor or midwife know.) Other moms have told me the same thing – that they swelled more after giving birth. The key is to keep your feet up and drink a lot of water.
6.) You will be so sore and exhausted and will be convinced that you never will be intimate again. However, that will change. The first time (after you get medically cleared for vaginal intercourse) it will hurt. But it won’t take long for it to start feeling really good again.
7.) The time will absolutely fly by. Your baby will grow and change so quickly. Try as you might, you can’t make it last. If anything, the first few weeks go by in an extra blur because of the exhaustion, hormones, etc. (See #4)
8.) You will be so in love with this little tiny baby. Everyone knows that they will love their babies. But until you look into your babies eyes or hold your baby in your arms for the first time, you will never truly realize the capacity of that love. It’s the best and scariest feeling in the world. It truly is like having your heart on the outside of your body. The love is something so fierce and so wonderful.
9.) As exhausted as you are, you will stay up nights, just staring at your beautiful baby and be in awe that you helped create this perfect little person.
10.) You think you will remember every detail. You’re positive you’ll remember how small they were, how tiny their little toes were, what their newborn hair looked like, and those little spontaneous facial expressions they make in their sleep. But mommy brain (see #1) and hormones, exhaustion, etc. (see #4) and just life will change that. Your baby will grow and you will be caught up in the stage of life that they are in at the moment, and you will forget those first few fleeting weeks of the newborn stage. My suggestion for that is to invest in newborn photography. I’ve never had any clients ever say that they regretted having their child’s newborn photos taken. However, I have heard many people tell me they regretted not having newborn photos done.
Abrah Zion, of Miss Z Photography, is an award winning maternity, newborn, baby and child photographer in New Bedford, MA. She serves all over the SouthCoast and New England with her satisfied clients deriving from Boston, Providence, Cape Cod and even New York!