As I pulled yet another clump of post pregnancy hair out of my hairbrush, I realised that there are some things that nobody warns you about when you are pregnant that would actually be quite nice to know. Everyone always tells you about how little sleep you are going to get once the baby arrives, but nobody tell you that at some point almost all of your hair will fall out and your skin will resemble your 13 year old self. I get it. No one wants to be THAT person, but I spent far too long after pregnancy googling things thinking I was abnormal only to discover that I wasnt (thank goodness).
So I wanted to write a post, featuring lots of my favourite bloggers who have also had babies this year sharing things that they were shocked or surprised about after giving birth. The types of things that no one told them or warned them about in the hope that by creating a really honest warts and all post like this about the so called 4th trimester, it might help to normalise and re-set some of the expectations and preconceptions that we have of ourselves and our bodies after giving birth.
So to kick things off, one of the things that surprised me about the 4th trimester was the difference having an episiotomy makes to things like the healing process and intercourse, and I didn’t even realise that until I had my second baby! At no point during labour when the doctor said that she would have to give me one, or after birth when I was seen by a number of midwives and health visitors, did anyone tell me that an episiotomy would make things feel different, and for a very long time. It was only after having my second baby and having a natural labour with no intervention that I realised just how much difference it makes. All in all, I’d say it took a year for things to feel normal again after my episiotomy.
Liane from Rosy Cheeks and Muddy Feet
After two babies, being pregnant with my 3rd, I had heard all of the stories about making sure to do your kegel exercises to help with your bladder control. Thankfully I had never had an issue with my bladder so I didn’t take much notice of the advice. What nobody told me was that these exercises would also help with your bowels! I was one week post-partum after my 3rd natural delivery and everything was going well. when I went to use the toilet and I suffered a prolapsed bowel! I was shocked, horrified and so scared! After screaming for my husband, it took me ten minutes to show him the problem, out of embarrassment. One ambulance ride and two doctors later I was sent home with an appointment to see a surgeon, lactulose and the advice that it will probably continue to happen now that those muscles have been weakened by labour. Needless to say I am now religiously doing my kegel exercises!
Sarah from This Mama Life
How bloody hard and heartbreaking breastfeeding can be – I struggled massively with breastfeeding with both my kids. I didn’t manage more than a week with my daughter and I am now four weeks into breastfeeding my son, but my god it’s been a hard journey! It’s not as natural and easy as it is made out to be and for a lot of us it is emotionally draining and involves a lot of tears (from both parties!). I got all the support under the sun but until my baby decided to latch on (at three weeks), I was having to exclusively pump which was incredibly tiring. At the end of the day, fed is best and it doesn’t matter whether your baby is breast or bottle fed. As long as they are happy and you are happy, you’re doing the right thing.
Secondly, how amazing baby wearing is! – I’m not sure why I never baby wore with my first child. I think it still had a bit of a hippy image attached to it at the time. This time around I have about four baby wraps to choose from and I am absolutely loving them all. They let baby feel safe and secure, whilst allowing you to get on with things, hands free. I’ve managed to do the bath and bed routine with my toddler, go food shopping, go out for lunch, go for walks, do the washing and tidying, all without a peep from my newborn. It’s like some form of magic! And a complete god send and essential product whilst trying to juggle a two year old and a four week old.
Sarah from Run Jump Scrap
The one thing no one told me about the aftermath of pregnancy is the night sweats. I woke up dripping convinced I had mastitis and a fever. It was a bit scary and slightly gross. Changing Pjs and pillow cases all the time was a joy. This lasted a good week or so and I have had it again second time around.
Katy from What Katy Said
I really struggled going to the toilet after my second labour. I was really constipated and in the end I had to have lactulose solution to help move things along!
If you breastfeed then your nipples will feel like they are on fire! Proper toe curling moments for the first couple of weeks. Hang in there it does stop eventually! Hydrogel pads are your friend!
I had really bad knee pain for the first month, it hurt to stand up and I felt about 90 years old. I got some cheap knee supports from Boots and they really helped until my hormones settled down.
You will lose fistfuls of hair! Don’t panic, it is just the hair that didn’t fall out during pregnancy. It does get everywhere though so keep an eye on toes of baby grows and socks so they don’t wrap around little toes.
Amy from All Things Amy
Hair loss and baby brain are two things that I’ve suffered with the most in the 4th trimester. All that lovely glossy hair I grew in my pregnancy is now shedding everywhere. No one ever told me hair loss happens, I remember laying in the bath with a handful of hair thinking something was wrong with me. Alas, it’s totally normal.
Something I thought would stop once I’d given birth was baby brain. Oh how wrong was I, it’s actually ALOT worse and some days, I’m sure I’ve lost my mind! Lost something? Check the fridge, it’s usually in there; even the kettle (I’ve done that a few too many times). 4th trimester is a crazy ride, especially with a newborn but it’s also the best journey ever.
Emily from Babies and Beauty
I didn’t really know much about ‘after pains’ when I was pregnant, in fact I think I heard them mentioned once, you envision having your baby and that every single ache and pain is gone away as soon as you birth them. In truth, about 3 hours after my second son, I felt like I was having horrendous cramps and was about to birth some sort of phantom twin. I now realise these were the dreaded ‘after pains’ (more like ‘after contractions’ they hurt that much) they’re actually super common with subsequent pregnancies and apparently get worse each time – yikes! It’s totally normally to feel a little like your body has been through a tumble drier, child birth is a crazy thing and I feel like it should be talked about a little more.
Jules from Pondering Parenthood
I wasn’t expecting my c-section scar to behave how it has. I’ve never had a large scar before. I rather naively thought it would just be a red line, which would quickly turn white. Fortunately, I’ve never had an infection in it, and I’ve been told it’s neat, but it’s still very pink and raised, nearly six months on. It itches a bit too, but I think that’s where the hair is beginning to grow back through (apologies for the overshare!) Bio oil helps, when I remember to use it!
No one told me how creaky my body would be after having a baby. My knees, ankles and especially hips are really bad and for several weeks after having my baby I’d get pins and needles down my legs if I sat in the same position for too long. This eased after the first twelve weeks.
Lucy from Mrs H’s Fave Things
One of the things I struggle with the most after having a baby is the compete gamut of emotions that I experience in one day. My gorgeous children can make me laugh, smile, cry and scream all in the space of 10 minutes. I can be filled with the most amazing love for them one minute and then the biggest sense of frustration a minute later.
My opinions of myself as a mother and a person also vary widely. At 10:00 I may feel on top of the world and that I am totally winning at parenting two small children. But by 10:15 these feelings are replaced this by a sense of failure and a belief that I am the worst mother in the world and everyone is judging me. It is complete paranoia. And it purely stems from having two little people who are dependant on me and the huge adjustment this is.
Kaye from Hello Archie
I remember the one shocker I had after having my first was the sheer amount of bleeding. It shocked me to the point I was constantly asking if it was normal to which of course, the midwives constantly insisted it was totally fine, I just had no idea! So try not to worry about that, I suppose it’s just our bodies way of clearing out the womb and it will slow down before long.
Hannah from Budding Smiles
After I had Toby I wasn’t expecting that the whole ‘rush of love’ thing takes time. Like falling in love with your partner, it doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye and although I loved Toby instantly in a mama lion/protective way, the bond took time.
With Martha I didn’t expect that my hormones would be even more crazy than the first time. All of a sudden it was like everything that had been difficult the first time around came flooding out with the hormonal fluctuations of establishing breastfeeding, the sleep deprivation and trying to figure out how the heck to be a mum of two. It’s not as natural as I’d expected.
Rachel from The Illustrated Tea Cup
For me the biggest thing was getting used to my new body. After 9 months developing it to hold a small infant, it was starting to deflate. But nowhere near as fast as magazines and the internet would have you believe. Also did you know that when giving birth you trade your bowling ball belly for some semi-set jelly? It is singularly the oddest feeling in the world. And don’t get me started on the stretch marks!! The thing is I really believed once baby was out, I’d feel like I had my body back. In actual fact I felt worse! A bump is cute. A deflated one not so much. And my body felt just as foreign as before.
But remember, you gave birth. You carried a small, or maybe large, baby in there safely for 9 long months. Unfortunately we don’t just ping back. And that’s OK. You’ll come to terms with the new you. And the new you is stronger than you could have ever imagined!
Chloe from Sorry About The Mess
I had trouble getting my first to latch successfully – he’d come on and off lots during a feed and get very angry about it! I remember tearfully feeding my one week old baby in the middle of the night, wondering if everyone found breastfeeding this challenging in the beginning and why didn’t anyone talk about it?? Breastfeeding can be straightforward, but there is usually an adjustment period at the beginning – it’s a skill that you and your baby are BOTH trying to learn. I didn’t know if our issues were normal, or if we were doing something wrong. It turns out that we did need a bit of help with his latch and tongue tie. I wish I hadn’t felt so silly about asking for help.
Fran from Back With A Bump
After giving birth it’s completely normal to feel grotty. Suddenly a nice firm bump has turned into a wobbly, empty tummy and you feel like you’re weaning a nappy. It’s not a sexy time but remember your body has just done something amazing and it will all go back to normal before long. Enjoy those nice hot baths again and paint your toes now you can see them for a little boost.
Sabrina from The Mummy Stylist
No one told me that after I gave birth, whenever I breastfed the baby I would get what felt like ‘period pains’ – it hurt so bad. I asked the midwife what this was, and she said it’s the uterus shrinking back to its normal size and the pain is worse with each child you had! For me the pains stopped 72 hours after birth. So be prepared for that when you have your second baby!
Beth from Life As Mum
After giving birth to my third baby I suffered with severe after pains, something I didn’t get after my other two pregnancies. It stopped me doing a lot of things and waking me up during the nights. My first pain was not long after giving birth and the pain felt just as bad as early labour. I had to make sure I took paracetamol every four hours but even paracetamol didn’t work sometimes. It took around six weeks for me to feel kind of ‘normal’ again and for the pains to go. If you ever suffer with this during the 4th trimester, I would advise you to rest as much as you can.
Aba from Do You Noah
One of the things about post pregnancy that surprised me was that you still look pregnant after having a baby. I’m not talking about weight but specifically how much your stomach changes. Belly button changes, stretch marks and worst of all the dreaded tummy pouch. I didn’t put on much weight during my pregnancy, in fact I only went up one dress size. So foolishly I thought I would be back into my old jeans/dresses/tops once baby was born. How wrong was I! It’s very common for women post pregnancy to have a stomach that looks like they are still carrying and this could last for months. Some might have a small little tummy pouch, others a belly that looks much bigger than they are used to, but without a doubt there will be a pouch in one way or other. But do you know what? It’s ok, you have just spent 10 months growing a small human being, what do you expect? I had no idea just how much my body would change but I’m slowly accepting this is just part of motherhood and learning to embrace these changes. And besides, if I’m honest, I wasn’t really ready to give up all my maternity clothes. The other thing no one tells you is how much you will miss those elastic waist band jeans – you will most certainly still wear them in the 4th trimester as they are just too comfortable to let go!
So that’s it! 16 lovely new mummies and their invaluable 4th trimester experiences shared to give an insight into what real life looks and feels like after birth. What did you experience in the 4th trimester that shocked or surprised you?