We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life, to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Ana Kamin talks how she felt overwhelmed and underprepared to navigate her life and changes to her body post-baby. -JKM
I have attended seven classes to prepare both mentally and physically for labor. During these lessons, I sponged up all that there is to know about delivery. I trained on how to cope with pain the natural way. I even meditated, while holding ice cubes. I was ready; labor could come. And, it did come, unexpectedly painful as reported by the many before me—almost mind-numbingly so—but I got through it. After 30 hours with a toolbox loaded full of tips and tricks, an efficient medical team, and an amazing husband, we were holding our precious 9.4 pounds of sunshine.
In the U.S., labor takes about 20 hours on average from start to finish. And, yes, it hurts—no matter how medicated you are or not. Labor is a painful, special, beautiful moment that changes lives, but then it’s over—just like that. And, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of being prepared for birth, but what happens after delivery? What happens after the magic of being a mom-to-be and the adrenaline of labor wears off? For me, having to navigate the waters of being a new mom—usually sleep deprived—and all the wonderful, yet exhausting challenges that come with it, felt staggering. I was overwhelmed by what little knowledge I had about postpartum life, specifically the changes that my body would experience in those moments after my delivery.
In between all the classes that prepared me for birth, I was never offered much knowledge on what would happen to my body post-delivery, and how to cope with that change. I was surprised by the lack of information I was given about the changes a woman’s body goes through in the first three months after birth, and I was disappointed by, may I say, the lack of interest in my wellbeing on the part of the medical system. There wasn’t a single class about how to manage or cope with the changes in my body. I picked up information here and there–mostly half-truths—from various blogs and websites. And, did I do kegels? Yes. I also read about the ever-common pelvic floor pain, that my bladder would never be the same, and that I should take sitz baths regularly, but there is so much more that happens beyond those few surface-level topics.
For example, I didn’t expect my breasts to become painful milk fountains for several months, nor did anyone mention the nightly chills—both hot and cold—that made tired nights even more tiring. I can’t even begin to talk about what was going on “down there”. In fact, no one really knew what was happening with my lady bits for several long weeks. The healing process was painful, to say the least, and yet the first check-up for a new mom happens only after six weeks. I was stunned, and I was sure there had to be a scheduling mistake.
There’s also the good old weight issue. The weight that didn’t go away despite everyone enthusiastically insisting, “Oh, you’re breastfeeding? The pregnancy fast will melt all that away!” No, it didn’t. And, it won’t for everyone. I also have to admit: it really bothered me that people were shaming and labeling me as vain when I would say that I’d like to lose my baby weight sooner rather than later. The well-meaning comments such as, “But, you created a small human being,” really kept me quiet, but ultimately made me sad, too. Am I not allowed to wish my pre-pregnancy body and strength back without being stamped superficial? I was hoping for a conversation, but all I got was a crystal ball prediction that my weight would come off, just like that. Somewhere along the way I started asking myself, “Why isn’t there more preparation for the time after delivery, which in my opinion, is the most important time for both baby and mom?”
We read so much. We’re influenced by social media about how a mom should look post-delivery, but we don’t really get prepared. There are few good books and resources out there supporting new moms, but I wish it would be a standard available to all new mothers, not an exception. So, I’m turning to you, dear Mother readers. How did you best learn to navigate life and body after your baby arrived?
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