10 Surprising Things to Expect After Giving Birth

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Find out what to expect the first 24 hours after a normal vaginal birth in the hospital. Some of these things may shock you!

Things to Expect After Giving Birth

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Congratulations, you did it! After hours of labor, you managed to push out your precious little baby. It’s time to relax and bond with the baby…right? WRONG. It’s funny how everybody talks about what happens before and during childbirth, but nobody really talks about what happens after the baby arrives. Thanks for the warning, people!

I mean, the moms in movies always cry tears of joy, get handed their beautiful newborns, and they get to enjoy some quality alone time with the husband and the baby. End scene. Who knew that reality plays out a lot differently than what you see on the big screen?

Even after taking childbirth classes, I was still surprised by everything that went on after birth. I think I just didn’t pay attention in class after we learned about the birth of the baby. Stupid me. It’s like focusing on rock climbing up the mountain and ignoring the fact that I still need strength to climb down the mountain after reaching insurmountable heights. The “after” is part of the beautiful journey, and I want to prepare soon-to-be moms with everything that I DIDN’T expect after I gave birth.

Attack of the giant octopus!

You would think you are done and able to relax after pushing out a baby, but NOOO…you have to deliver the placenta, the organ that housed your baby during your pregnancy.

Now that the baby is out, there is no need for the placenta anymore, so you need it out of your body. Believe it or not, your uterus will continue to contract to push the placenta out.

Your doctor may help push on your abdomen to help the placenta along, and after what your body had just been through, it is not pleasant to have someone putting pressure on your belly. And I will always remember the feeling of the placenta coming out of my body – it felt like I just pushed out a giant octopus, all slimy and with its tentacles still attached (well, some are missing). Yuck. I remember a nurse even asked if I wanted to see it. Uh, no thank you, I will stick with staring at my baby instead.

Repairing the damage.

Argh, I hate to think about what it looked like “down there” immediately after I gave birth. I remember trying to decipher the midwife’s expressions as she poked around assessing the damage. After the nurse placed my baby on my chest, the midwife continued to stitch me up for what felt like forever. Do you know how distracting it is to have a needle going in and out of your vagina while you are trying to bond with a baby?

Let’s pop the baby on!

I prepared for breastfeeding my baby by taking classes and even practicing different positions with a doll. I was completely and utterly determined to breastfeed. But right after birth? Come on, I just spent hours in pain, can’t I get some time to take a breather?

NOPE. After a few minutes of making sure the baby is doing okay, the nurse will ask you if you would like to try and nurse the baby. And if you have babies who are milk monsters like mine, they pretty much do the work of finding the nipple and clamp on as long as their mouths are in the vicinity.

Believe you me, it was a magical moment when my baby latched on and I think I will always remember that moment, but I was certainly not prepared to breastfeed for the first time while my legs were still in the stirrups and my vagina exposed for all to see.

Oh, the blood…so much blood.

You know the prom scene in the movie Carrie where the mean high school kid dumped a bucket of pig’s blood on her? Yeah…that’s nothing compared to the amount of blood you will see in the days following delivery.

And what makes it even more fun is the gigantic boat of a maxi pad that the hospital provides to help with the mess. At least you get to wear super flattering disposable underwear with the maxi pads!

Check out this awesome Online Prenatal Class that will simplify the labor and delivery process so you can have a more relaxed pregnancy & birth. Use code CURLS10 for 10% off!

Pee for me!

Arriving at the postpartum room, one of the first things your nurse will ask you to do is pee for her into this huge measuring cup that hangs off the toilet.

Your vagina probably feels like it just went through a fight club scene and is still swollen and painful down there, and you are probably so sore that you can’t even feel your bladder, but the nurse will not stop asking you to pee until you do it.

I remember telling the nurse that I do not need to go, and she told me to look down and I could see my full bladder protruding out of my belly. Craziness! So just go to the bathroom and try…but make sure you use the squirt bottle the hospital provides and fill it with cool water to help with the pain as you pee. I even took the bottle home after I was discharged from the hospital because it really helps with the pain, especially if you had to have stitches down there.

Nope, still looking pretty pregnant.

Unfortunately, your pregnant belly doesn’t go away completely immediately after birth.

I remember being so disappointed that I still looked 5 months pregnant after I gave birth to both the baby and the placenta. There is still a whole slew of things in there that needs to come out. Plus, your skin has been stretched to its limit (and beyond) for months, so it needs time to recover and shrink back. Make sure you eat the right nutrients and take proper care of yourself to gain back your pre-baby body.

The massage from hell.

It felt like every 5 minutes a nurse would bust into the room to check on me. The worst part is the fundal massage, where the nurse pushes on your belly to help the uterus contract back to its original size. I had to hold back the urge to punch one of the nurses…I know the massages are good for you, but boy do they hurt!

I remember gripping to the bed rails and gritting my teeth every time they pushed on my belly. And what makes the massage worse is that every time they push down, I can feel a ton of blood gushing out. As if I wasn’t feeling icky enough already.

Night of the living dead.

You probably already skipped one night of sleep due to contractions and spent almost a whole day going through labor and delivery. You probably feel like closing your eyes and sleeping for days.

Well, guess what? All these stories you hear about how parents do not sleep?  It starts right at birth!

My babies have never been great sleepers, and both of them insisted on me holding and nursing them the entire night after I gave birth. Even if I managed to nod off for a few minutes, usually a nurse would come in to check on the baby or me and wake me up from my precious slumber.

And guess who was sleeping soundly in the bed next to mine? My wonderful husband who was exhausted from helping me during child birth. Really dude?

You will feel hot.

No, not sexy mama kind of hot, but the sweaty fat man sitting in a sauna kind of hot. Your estrogen plunges after you give birth, and the change in hormones totally messes up your body’s temperature regulation, so you get a nice preview of what hot flashes are all about during menopause.

I was sweating so much after delivery that I just took off everything except my bra and my oh-so-attractive disposable underwear in order to cool down. On top of that, I was breastfeeding my baby pretty much all the time, and sleepy little newborns are like mini-ovens. So yup, you will feel pretty hot.

Pooping might be harder than giving birth.

Pooping doesn’t sound so horrible, does it?

Well, remember all the pain and pushing you had to do not that long ago to deliver your precious baby? Pushing out poop after giving birth might just be worse than that. Your organs are all rearranged due to pregnancy, and you might have hemorrhoids – swollen veins in the anus or lower rectum – from childbirth.

Your body is literally trying to learn how to eliminate waste again from scratch. Without getting too graphic, let’s just say that after you manage to finally push one out, you might be as proud of this accomplishment as giving birth to your baby. I even gave mine a name. No, just kidding, I am not that weird.

Ah, good times.

As you can see, giving birth is not like what you see in the movies. What follows the birth of your baby may not be pretty, but it’s part of being a mom. Despite everything, you have made a little human, and trust me, when you hold him or her in your arms, he or she will make any hardships you experience before, during, and after labor and delivery worth it.

What happened immediately after giving birth that surprised you? Tell us in the comments!

10 Shocking Things to Expect After Childbirth

42 thoughts on “10 Surprising Things to Expect After Giving Birth”

  1. Days following delivery? How about WEEKS. I don’t even know how I am alive right now to be honest. Gallons and gallons over about 3 weeks time.

    1. Geez! It was bad for me but wasn’t that bad! I think mine slowed down a few days after I get home, though I think it took almost 6 weeks to stop bleeding😅

  2. This is one of the reasons that i have high regard for mothers. Childbirth is such a difficult process, which takes 9 months of carrying the extra load during pregnancy to even more pains on the actual birth and then recovering from it and losing all those extra pounds.

  3. All this sounds about right. I had three children funny how you never think about the after stuff just focus on your new beautiful baby. Women are pretty darn awesome.

  4. Oh my goodness–it’s been a while since I gave birth to my last child–but oh my goodness, reading your post brought it all back and made me laugh about it. Thanks for the great trip down memory lane!

  5. This is totally correct. Most of the stuff I was not informed of had a time and a lot of it surprised me. I think this is a great post that anybody that is about to have a baby needs to read. You cracked me up with this post.

  6. Yep, totally accurate. It’s been a minute for me but I definitely experienced all of these things. And no one really went into details about delivering the placenta, so that was kind of an unpleasant surprise.

  7. There must be so much people don’t talk about when it comes to childbirth! I have to admit I’ve never been there myself so it all sounds awful to me, but worth it I’m sure.,

  8. Pam Wattenbarger

    Giving birth was definitely not like it was in the movies. I remember them asking me if I wanted to keep the placenta. No thanks!

  9. Kimberly @ Berly's Kitchen

    That pretty much covers it and NO ONE ever talks about it. I was completely unprepared. Only had one baby and not doing it again. Thanks for sharing how things really are!

    1. Isn’t it strange that nobody talks about it! Haha I managed to have a second one but I can totally understand not wanting to do it again 😆

  10. My son was an emergency c-section preemie, so I missed out on a lot of these things. Maybe “missed out” is the wrong word, lol. The sleep one, though, I can totally relate to! I was up most of the night, sleeping for five minutes at a time if I was lucky.

  11. Your recount is hilarious! And those memes. LOL!

    After an unsuccessful attempt at giving birth to baby #1 naturally, we had to opt for a C-section (for all 3 kids). I’m sort of glad since some of these I didn’t even think of — like giving birth to an octopus! hah!

  12. Oops, have always heard from all that childbirth is actually a new birth for the mothers too. But never knew that each mother goes through so much. But I guess looking at the baby takes away all the pain 🙂

  13. I have to agree with you in all of these. My family was all back home so I was all alone when I gave birth, I mean my husband is present but he is gone when he is at work so it was all me. It’s tough. My kids are now 10 and 12 but the belly stayed lol.

  14. I just had my fourth baby a couple months ago. Due to some scary complications, I was just in survival mode and hoping we both made it through the delivery. We didn’t meet for 3 days as I was in the ICU and she was in the NICU.

  15. Haha! (the Gifs are funny) Thank you so much Betty, this was so helpful especially knowing how stressful and difficult pregnancy can be and now post pregnancy. How did you manage to get rid of the pregnancy weight after baby no.1? 🙂 Any tips 🙂

  16. I remember trying not to look at what was going on down there. I was still numb from the epidural so I didn’t even know the placenta was delivered or that I was stitched up. I was also distracted because of all the emotions going through my head once we were told the boy we were supposed to have was actually A Girl!!

  17. Oh my gosh, these are so true! This definitely brings back some not so pleasant memories, but hey, I do kind of feel like Wonder Woman after making it through!

  18. What a great post! I wasn’t prepared for any of these things at all. After my son was handed to me, I felt some strange tugging down there, and it wasn’t until later that I put it together…I was being stitched up!!! I didn’t even know I had an episiotomy haha!! Crazy crazy! I pretty much blocked out what the doc was doing down there and focused on the strange blue little guy on my chest 🙂

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