The hard part is over, you’ve picked out a name, read a few, or more, parenting books, watched the childcare videos, and finally gave birth to a sweet and innocent baby. Now, you are wondering what comes next. What should you expect after holding your little one in your arms? There is truly no way to prepare for life after child birth, but there are a couple things you should know. Things that people normally wouldn’t tell you about after birth.
There are many physical changes associated with pregnancy, but the changes that occur after birth are rarely to never expected by new moms. Your body adjusted to the baby as it grew. Now it’s time for your body to readjust to the birth of that baby. When I had my son, I was under the impression that my baby belly would disappear, or at least shrink down a substantial amount after giving birth. That said, it came as a shock to see that my belly was relatively the same size hours after having my son. It shocked me even more when it resembled a bowl of Jell-O or pudding in texture and movement.
The shape of your body also changes during pregnancy, and some of the changes are relatively long lasting. After giving birth to my son, I naturally lost my baby weight due to my active lifestyle. When my weight returned to its’ initial amount, my hips were still two, entire pant sizes larger. Different women experience different lasting alterations in the shape of their chests, as well as, their stomachs. The clear majority of these changes are not painful, but some parts of after birth can hurt just a little.
Sometimes you’ll hear that childbirth is painful and exhausting, but that’s a fairly accurate description of after birth, based on my experiences. I felt sore and I couldn’t quite place where the soreness stemmed from. I felt it from my shoulders down to my thighs, and almost everywhere in between. My chest was sore and heavy, my stomach continued to cramp for a day or two after birth, and every time I moved the soreness in my thighs quickly turned to pain. It was even painful to use the bathroom because of the stinging sensation when I peed.
However, the most prominent, physical aspect of after birth was the exhaustion. Obviously, giving birth takes a lot of energy, but the exhaustion follows you home. You’ll be the primary caregiver of your baby. That means waking up several times a night and sleeping in approximately two and a half hour intervals. This is, physically, perhaps the most lasting part of after birth. My son is two years old and I’m still ready for bed by six o’clock. Each child progresses differently, but it’s common for most mothers to be frequently exhausted until their child sleeps through the night.
Your life is changing and your actions are primarily focused on caring for your child. You will be around your young one for the better part of your day. Babies require you to search for the means to calm them and to remain calm yourself. They sense any disruption of peace in their surrounding and become unsettled, so it’s no surprise that many mothers feel out of control and stressed.
You will still stress over the same things, but when you figure in the cries of a newborn baby, stress can seem to take on a head of its own. Many new mothers tend to overtly worry, which contributes greatly to lack of sleep. Both worrying and lack of sleep are correlated to being stressed.
As well as stress, many mothers will have mood swing due to hormonal changes, in some ways comparable to the first trimester of a pregnancy. This is normal, but It is important to know that there is a line between normal and abnormal moods. Post-partum depression affects many new mothers, but is rarely talked about. Feelings of extreme sadness should be discussed with a doctor. The mothers’ feelings drastically impact their babies’ temperament; babies mirror our own feelings, so unsettled mothers make for colicky babies.
However, your baby will dramatically increase your capacity for love, as well as, improve your understanding of it. The first time I held my tiny, precious baby I was overcome with love. I had never felt such strong feelings for anyone and it was overwhelming. The feeling you will likely experience the first time you see or hold your newborn is impossible to describe with perfect precision, but it can be compared to love in its purest form. It doesn’t compare to any other kind of love and it initiates the special bond a mother has with their child.
Realistically, your life will completely change after giving birth. Everything from your thinking process to your actions will revolve around a new focal point. Being a mother is hard work and it requires a selflessness that can only develop throughout the experience of raising a child.
Matured and nurtured relationships will more than likely prevail, but your time will be devoted to a new relationship- a relationship between your newborn and yourself. Babies require a large amount of time and attention, so unstable relationships will likely be shaken. After giving birth to my baby, I prioritized my life and gave up some friends, but I also strengthened some friendships and allowed more time for my family. The adjustment of how your time is spent is just the beginning of the change regarding your daily activities.
Some things are hard to do when you have a newborn in tow. Simple activities like going out to dinner or the grocery store will become a hassle. Normal activities will change due to accessibility, and the way you achieve daily tasks will differ. Ultimately you will completely adjust your life to accommodate your little one and even benefit them. In a way, giving birth to a baby inhibits you to seek fulfilling activities for both you and your child.
The search for fulfillment is just one example of change in your thought process. The way you think will adjust to make your baby your primary focus. Most of your thoughts will revolve around the life of your baby and what would be best for them. In situations in which you would typically be concerned with yourself, your child will take priority.
Overall the best part after birth is the way you feel about your child and the promise of a close and satisfying relationship with them. At different times, you will be the entertainment and the entertained, the teacher and the student, the friend, and the parent.
They will make you laugh and occasionally cry. You will watch them grow, as well as yourself. You will also make them laugh and amuse them with a game of peek-a-boo or hide-and-go-seek. You’ll teach them things and be full of pride when they learn to do them. They will surprise you and shock you as they grow year by year. You’ll wonder how they’ve gotten so big, and be confused when you realize they’re still so small.
They’ll teach you how to be patient and understanding. You’ll learn how to decipher baby blabber and word salad. Perhaps you will remember the games you used to play and those who played them with you. Soon you will understand the pleasure of seeing your child’s face light up at the perfect gift or their favorite candy. You’ll be intrigued by the stories they tell you and eager to hear about their days.
They will tell you many of their secrets and relish in the similarities between you. Your child will become a second part of you and they will compel you to understand things from your parents point-of-view. You will become a parent, more than just the word, you will act as one and understand what it means to be one. You will realize that giving birth to your delightful, and at time rambunctious child, was the start of your new and much more satisfying life.
Having a baby is one of the extremely gratifying parts of life, nurturing an infant and watching them grow is surreal, having the opportunity to raise a child and be a role model is incredibly fulfilling. After giving birth your child has a way of making you feel like you were meant to be their parent and a couple of months later you’ll begin to wonder what your life was like before you were their mommy. Mommy will be who you are and you will feel incredibly lucky, even blessed, to have that opportunity.