Some of you expectant mothers out there might choose to approach your Big Day blissfully unaware of what is headed down the pipeline (so to speak). This post is not for you. For those of you who are not afraid of peeking around the hospital curtain, boy-oh-boy, well, I’m going to give it to you straight.
You already know that the whole birthing thing is not pretty. But there are quite a few things that pregnant peeps everywhere will never know about the process until they are swimming in breast milk. This is because the rest of us – those moms who have been through the birthing and postpartum experience – are purposely keeping these things a secret from you. If we told you, the world may cease to procreate.
So consider what I am about to reveal to you as 10 Top Secret Tips that I really shouldn’t be telling you. But because I’m really bad at secret-keeping, I’m going to tell you anyway.
1. You will heart your hospital gown so much.
Perhaps you have ordered a special nightgown or robe to wear during your hospital stay. You may have even planned a blowout prior to your due date, and have included some essential makeup items in your hospital overnight bag. Dream on. The only gown you will want to wear is the hospital gown. It is the easiest thing to wear when attempting to breastfeed for the first time, and, because you will be leaking fluid from every orifice, you won’t want to wear anything you can’t burn upon leaving the hospital.
2. Wee-wee pads are not just for dogs.
Is your secret name Spot? Or Fido? You might think so, based on the fact that your hospital bed features three layers of wee-wee-pads, lovingly changed on the hour by the friendly hospital staff. You will have no control over the fluids that will be exiting your body, so embrace the pads. Take some home, too, because you don’t want to stain your own bed. Plus, the memories!
3. Peeing with a stranger is fun.
Not really. But it is helpful! Your first post-labor pee pee will most likely involve a kindly nurse gently walking you into the bathroom and squeezing a warm bottle of water onto your V, to help with that first excruciating tinkle. She will explain that you will need this bottle from now on every time you use the commode because you if you do not use it, peeing will feel like FIRE. Further warning: You will want the emotional support of this nurse every time you need to use the bathroom. Consider asking her to come home with you.
4. You will be wearing a lot of mesh underwear.
Did you know about the mesh underwear? I bet you didn’t. You’re probably thinking this is some kinky new trend started by forward-thinking moms in New Zealand. Maybe you are picturing something you might find at your neighborhood Adult Fantasyland store. You are picturing it all wrong. Following labor, the hospital will hide the nice underwear you had planned on wearing during your stay and instead give you something that resembles surgical gauze or cheesecloth at best to cover your lady parts. Most likely, you will develop a rash from the mesh, which is REALLY fun if you end up also having a C-section scar. So much itching! Fun fact: Once you are home and you have graduated from the mesh, you get to wear the kind of underwear you enjoyed in middle school – big, bottom-covering, bunchy-butt, elastic waist ones. This is the only type of undergarment that can accommodate the supersize, extra-long, double overnight maxi pads that you will be wearing for the next several weeks post labor.
5. Speaking of . . . Let’s talk about pads!
So you’ve gotten to enjoy one of the only perks about pregnancy – not worrying about wearing white pants in case your period pops up unexpectedly, not having to buy anything with the word “absorbent” in it. Welcome back from dreamland, ladies. After labor, you will be bleeding every day, all day, for several weeks (and possibly even months). You might even think that having a C-section negates the postpartum bloodletting. No. Postpartum believes in equal rights for all types of labor, and so, expect to bleed like the elevator scene from The Shining.
6. Also, witch-hazel pads.
Visit anyone who has just gotten home from the hospital, and you will find a trusty container of witch-hazel pads in the bathroom. Post-birth, these will become your “toilet paper”. You no longer will be able to use toilet paper unless you like the feeling of sandpaper rubbing against a painful open wound. Supposedly, witch-hazel is “soothing.”
7. Beware your first postpartum poo.
You thought that constipation during pregnancy was pretty rough. Get ready for something that makes that pale in comparison. Not only does your stomach still look eight months pregnant, but also you will now be carrying quite a load – and this one isn’t cute. Maybe for over a week. All that Percocet is super constipating, and if you end up having surgery, that just adds to the clogged-up equation. For the love of all that is holy, do not try to force the poo. Do not hunker down with a stack of celebrity magazines and use your newly acquired pushing skills to achieve bowel clearance. The poo will come to you, and when it does, assign someone to hold the baby for the next hour and a half while you push a tennis ball out of your rectum. Don’t worry. You’re familiar with that feeling by now, right?
8. Nursing bras are your new sexy.
Bras are nice. They are pretty. The expensive ones make you feel like you’re someone’s mistress. They lend shape, they contour, they even provide a little layer of protection when someone jabs his elbow into your boobs on the subway. Nursing bras, however, can SUCK. Even the ones from brands cheekily named “Hot Milk” or “Jezebel” or “La Comptesse” or whatever sultry name these companies have come up with to help you come to terms with the fact that you have to wear a bra that provides so much coverage it practically hits your chin.
9. Breast pads. An introduction:
Why must so many things concerning postpartum involve the word ‘pad’? How humiliating. Breast pads are flat, disc-shaped cotton balls that you put into your newly purchased nursing bra to catch breast milk leakage. They fill up pretty fast, and if your bra isn’t thick enough, they show through your shirt. You will feel like you are revisiting your childhood days of dressing up as Dolly Parton. And you will need to change it every 20 minutes that you are not nursing because you can’t stop leaking whenever you think about your baby. Which feels slightly vulgar, like a middle-schooler trying to hide his boner in History class.
10. Behold, the magical powers of bamboo.
You probably thought bamboo was just for pandas, or like, those expensive new swaddles that are out there. Wrong! Bamboo also helps shrink your stomach. There are a few of these corset-like tummy tuckers on the market that promise to shrink a postpartum belly as long as you vow to wear it every day for weeks, for up to six hours a day. The way it works is, your stomach is sucked in so tightly from the band that you can’t stuff your face. Also, you won’t want to leave the house with it because it makes you look like Deenie from the Judy Blume books, which conveniently prohibits you from grocery shopping or eating out. Magic!
Wishing you could turn back the hands of time to that fateful night of conception? I bet you are! But guess what? It is too late (cue evil laughter). Don’t worry. You got this in the bag. You are woman. You are Mother Earth. You are strong, like ox. A leaky, cranky, sleep-deprived ox, but still. Also: Don’t tell anyone what I’ve just told you. You can keep a secret, right?