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What really happens after childbirth: Truth bombs you need to hear

ByTiffany ReyesJanuary 31, 2023
smiling newborn
How hard are the first few days after childbirth? No two experiences are exactly alike. But we sometimes hold on to popular depictions of childbirth and assume that our experience will be the same.
You may look at social media posts of celebrities after giving birth and see how calm and composed they look, how happy and satisfied they are. You may expect the same when your time comes to give birth. You may look forward to that moment when you can show to the world your triumph in all beauty and grace.
But those who have actually experienced giving birth will give the constant refrain: don’t let the social media posts fool you. It’s not always a bed of roses.
An edamama mama shared some “brutal” truths about the experience of childbirth in a post titled “So What’s It Like After Giving Birth: Tips and Truth Bombs.” After giving birth, Karla Magno Suguitan had a few realizations that were contrary to popular expectations, and compiled it into a veritable “expectation vs. reality.”
You will need help
The first thing that Karla notes is that we should do away with the naive fantasy that we can manage by ourselves, especially during the first night after childbirth. She describes her imagined scenario this way: “We got excited with the prospect of her first night to be ours, just ours, and how we will always have it etched in our memory.”
Karla tells us that offers of help from family members are valuable, and we don’t usually know how hard the first night is before we actually are there.
We may think it is ideal for the mama the child, and the father to be alone on their first night together as a family, but this is actually the time when we need the most assistance, especially if it’s our first time. You thought you knew how to change diapers? Wait until you freak out trying to change soiled clothes while the baby’s pooping.
Sometimes postpartum is more difficult
And you thought labor was the worst? Wait till you have to pee or when your bowel needs to move. The physical aftermath of childbirth, especially to the nether regions, is an entirely different story. During normal (vaginal) delivery you can expect all sorts of things to deal with immediately afterwards. These include swelling, bleeding, painful urination, constipation, and so on.
Fortunately, there are different ways of coping with postpartum issues, from products like sprays, maternity pads, ice packs, stool softeners, and (breastfeeding-safe) painkillers to proper bathroom techniques.
You can say no to visitors
Pre-pandemic, visiting families who just welcomed a baby was the norm. But this was extra difficult for some mamas. According to Karla in her blog, mamas should not “feel compelled to let everyone who wants to visit, visit.” She suggests that there should be a timeframe or a tier-system wherein only the immediate family is allowed on the first day, then the extended family, then close friends much later.
She recognizes that “entertaining” visitors in the hospital can be an obstacle to much needed rest and recovery, so we should learn to politely decline visitors. She notes that having visitors will be much easier at home after discharge from the hospital.
Prepare Daddy for the paperworks
Another practical aspect that Karla reminds us to take careful note of is the paperwork that accompanies childbirth. “Ensure your partner/husband/authorized representative has been briefed accordingly about the important paperwork,” she says.
The paperwork includes forms for the birth certificate, health insurance claims, and other hospital records. Though in essence mundane or routine, processing of such paperwork has tremendous consequences. Try not to misspell your child’s name!
Karla’s final tip is simply an all-encompassing reminder: giving birth “will always be life-altering.” You and your partner need to be well-prepared, but don’t feel down if you haven’t mastered everything. After all, even those with previous experience are still “trying to figure it all out.”
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