1. Postpartum bleeding is a nightmare. You may think that 9 months period free is a wonderful pregnancy perk, but you would be wrong. Your body will make it up to you in the hellish nightmare that is the postpartum bleed. You will want to invest in the biggest, most absorbant pads you can find to try to contain it. (Check out our article on DIY Postpartum Pads.) The bleeding can easily last 6 or so weeks and you will pass more blod and clots than you thought possible without passing out as your uterus empties itself of 9 months worth of crap.
2. Your hormones will be unlike anything you've ever experienced. Once you give birth you will experience a huge hormone dump as your body once again goes through major changes. While some call it the "baby blues", I find that term to be an incredible understatement to the range of emotions coursing through the body after birth. Know that it is okay to have these emotions, but be on the lookout for postpartum depression and please reach out for help if you think you might be experiencing PPD.
3. Invest in some stool softeners. Whether you give birth vaginally or by cesarean, pooping is going to hurt. And if you're on any type of painkiller, it's going to be difficult. Postpartum pooping sucks. If you had the luck of avoiding hemorrhoids during pregnancy, they may just decide to make an appearance postpartum. A little tip for c-section mamas, holding a pillow over your stomach while pushing, or sneezing, or coughing, or laughing, or pretty much anything, can help with the pain.
5. Take care of yourself. Babies require constant attention and it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of newborn care. You may find yourself constantly changing diapers, feeding, comforting and attempting to get some shut eye in between. Whatever you do, don't forget to take care of yourself. Get some rest, eat some food and take a shower (lord knows you need it haha.) Watch yourself for postpartum depression and anxiety. You can't take care of someone else if you don't take care of yourself.
6. You will still look pregnant after giving birth. The weight won't magically disappear. And breastfeeding is not some magical fat burning process like some would lead you to believe. Your doctor won't clear you for exercise for at least 6 weeks. Try not to be hard on yourself. Remember that your body just created an entire human being! Wear those maternity clothes for as long as you're comfortable mama. It's not a race to try to button up your pre-pregnancy jeans.
8. You will still have contractions. You may think that after labor and delivery, those pesky and painful contractions will go away, but that is sadly not the case. As your uterus shrinks back down to size (and expels itself of what seems to be bathtubs full of blood) it's going to contract, many times painfully. Often times contractions are triggered by breastfeeding. Did I mention breastfeeding is hard?
9. Accept help. You may want to be supermom and feel totally in control and on top of things when it comes to your new parenting role, but it is okay to accept help. Someone wants to bring you a meal, clean for you or watch your newborn so you can take a nap? Jump on that opportunity! It doesn't matter if you are a mess, or the house is a mess. You just had a baby, they will understand. I will even take this one step further to say, if you find yourself in need of help, ask for it. Many people are more than willing to lend a hand but are afraid to overstep boundaries by offering.