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SALT LAKE CITY — Just this past week we were blessed with our sixth child. Weighing in at a whopping 7 pounds, 7 ounces and 19 inches long, he came in at a close second place behind our fourth child, who was just two ounces his senior. He is the perfect little addition to our family, and we are all transitioning very well to having a newborn at our home.
When speaking of the transition or changes that happen when a new baby is born, there are a lot of things to be said. I remember when I was expecting my first child, I did all sorts of research on different things I should expect after the baby was born. There were things about baby sleep patterns, how much he should be eating, the color of the (contents) in his diaper, when to call the doctor; the list went on and on.
Although this was essential information, I don't recall reading anything about what I should expect to happen to me. Admittedly, this could be due to being too preoccupied — as I should have been — with my soon-to-be child that the thought never entered my mind to ask about the changes I might face.
Well, there are some important things new expectant mothers should know to get through the days, weeks … and however long it takes, after having a baby. Here are some of those things:
- There is something called “after pains,” and they are eerily similar to the “before pains.” Just as your uterus contracted for you to give birth, it needs to continue to contract to get rid of other things that are still in there. This will often happen while you are nursing because nursing is one thing that causes it to contract. Again, it will all subside in a matter of a few days; just hang in there and take Motrin if you need to.
- There will be swelling. When giving birth, your body goes through a major ordeal. And just like any major thing that happens to your body, swelling is imminent. There is swelling in the obvious areas, as well as in your stomach and hips, and depending on how long or how much you pushed, your face could swell. With my oldest, I pushed for quite some time, and when I looked in the mirror, I was shocked to see how much swelling was in my face. Good news: It goes down in a matter of days.
- At about the second day, your milk will come in, causing some tenderness in your breasts. Bad news: It will get worse. At about the third day, which is usually the day you bring the baby home, you will be extremely sore. Nursing will hurt. Hugging your husband will hurt. Merely the feeling of your own arms resting at your side (if you can even put them down) will hurt. There are so many “remedies” for this, but in my experience, they don't provide much relief. If you are nursing — and I can only speak from this perspective — it will gradually go down, and at about the sixth day after having your baby (about three days of pain), you will feel much better.
- As much as you might want to, refrain from packing any jeans to change into. It is true that after giving birth, you lose quite a few inches. However, due to other things happening in your body, fitting into your favorite pair of jeans … or any jeans for that matter, just ain't happenin'. Pack a good, comfortable pair of yoga pants and a sweatshirt and call it good. Nobody expects you to leave the hospital looking glamorous, so don't put that expectation on yourself. Which brings me to my next point:
- Don't weigh yourself for at least a good two to three weeks. Again, having the baby does account for some weight loss. However, with your milk coming in, some swelling, water retention and other factors, you may not see much, if any, drop in weight for a couple of weeks. Weighing yourself too early will only cause unnecessary stress. Give yourself time, and if you work at it, you can be back to your “old self” in no time.
- You will get overwhelmed. The fact is, babies are a lot of work, especially when it is your first. Be patient with yourself. Know that just like anything, it takes some time to get used to. Take a breath … or a thousand breaths. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Nobody expects you to be perfect, so don't expect that out of yourself. You can do this.
Even with all of the not-so-fun things that take place after giving birth, the experience is something that is so amazing and so unlike anything you will ever experience. And if you ask most women, they would say they'd do it all again in a heartbeat. As you look at that precious little baby, you soon find that for him or her, you would go through all of it … and more.
Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running the beautiful trails around Utah. For more articles by Arianne, "like" her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @arimom5, or visit her blog, timetofititin.com.