1. It’s messy - like really messy
Labour is messy. Unlike Hollywood movies where a woman's waters breaking appears to be a non-existent trickle, be warned - it’s a waterfall event that continues throughout the duration of delivery. Now please note that everyone has different experiences, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for all scenarios.
2. It's not unusual to feel or be sick
This is in fact "a thing" and quite common during labour. As if labour pain wasn't enough, additional symptoms can include nausea and vomiting. The great news is there is an anti sickness jab which your midwife can administer to put a stop to these symptoms.
3. You may experience side effects for 8 - 12 weeks after delivery
Say what!!! After months of no cycle, it's strange think that bleeding (which can be seriously heavy in the days after delivery) can last for up to 2-3 months.
Tip: Tena Lady pants are an absolute must! If you're creating a list of hospital bag must haves, THIS IS IT. Don't delay, order a pack or two now and bring them with you. They are the most practical and comfortable option in the hours after birth and are less likely to leak compared to standard maternity pads. You should still purchase maternity pads as you'll need them once the flow becomes a little lighter - https://www.tena.co.uk/tenalady/products/pants/tena-pants-plus
4. Going home feels like an eternity
Depending on the the health of of you and baby, and the length of your delivery, you may be asked to stay in hospital overnight or for a few days. After a while, you’ll crave a return to normality and home comforts.
The hospital may have a mandatory official discharge procedure in place, such as a quick talk about how to take care of baby and what to expect in the coming days and weeks. They will also check your pulse, temperature and blood pressure before allowing you to go home.
If you are breastfeeding, your midwife will check baby's latch and you may also be offered additional support before you leave.
5. Breastfeeding for the first time may be painful
This is probably a known fact, however the reality really can hit you if you are struggling with baby’s latch and sore nipples. Add this to the rollercoaster of emotions you may be experiencing and lack of sleep, this can all make breastfeeding extremely challenging. If it’s something you’d like to do, stick with it, it’ll be a breeze in no time at all.
Whilst your partner may want to share the responsibility of night feeds, missing night feeds may affect your breast milk supply. It may be best to hold off expressing milk for at least a week or two after delivery. Speak to a lactation expert or your midwife for the best advice.
Tip: Lanisoh nipple cream or similar is a great for sore nipples. You may also want to invest in some nipple pads for leaky boobs - https://lansinoh.co.uk/product/lansinoh-hpa-lanolin/
6. Cluster feeding!
Cluster feeding is common and completely normal. Babies going through this will either want to continuously feed for hours, or with very short breaks between feeds. It can be super exhausting, and emotionally draining, especially as babies are typically fussy during this period. It's important to remember that this is necessary to boost your breast milk supply. Don't worry, your body is not under-producing milk, it's a natural process that will pass after a few days/weeks.
Tip: if you have support, ask your partner, family or friends to help you with the things around the house that will make this period easier - cooking, cleaning, washing. Also get comfortable and keep the necessities within easy reach, such as water and snacks.
Having a baby is an amazing experience. Enjoy the newborn phase as much as you can as it's passes so quickly. The late nights and rollercoaster of emotions will become a distant memory.
*Please note, this is not official medical advice. Always consult with a physician if you are concerned.