If I can get through the pain, so can you

Megan shares her pregnancy journey, including what you can expect during and after delivery.

Now, I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture of the delivery. I have heard the horror stories of emergency cesarean sections after two days of labor and three hours of pushing.

Honestly, my deliveries were much easier, and I wish everyone could have the same experience. While I will say my body in both instances was ready to have a baby (I was 5 centimeters dilated walking into the hospital with my first, and my water broke for the second), I still had to be induced with Pitocin, which kicks your body into having contractions that are more intense than noninduced contractions.

After a couple of hours on Pitocin, I was ready for my epidural, and the second I got it, it was smooth sailing. I could feel no pain, and after fairly short labors, I easily birthed my babies vaginally. As I’ve heard many times, my hips were made for delivering babies.

To any men reading this post — you may want to stop here. You’ve been warned!

After the delivery, some pretty unpleasant/strange things can happen. Of course, you have your beautiful new baby, so a lot of this you forget about, but I wish I had known:

You might get the shakes. I remember my teeth chattering uncontrollably after the baby was born as my body’s hormones shifted and I adjusted to coming off the anesthesia. After a couple of hours, it wore off, but it was pretty strange.

You probably will have stiches down there. Whether you tear on your own or your physician cuts you via episiotomy (let them know if you have a preference beforehand!), there will probably be some sewing up to do. Pile on the witch hazel pads they give you at the hospital, do sitz baths to help with the healing, and use the awesome numbing spray that they provide and the water bottle to spray after using the bathroom.

It sounds pretty terrible, and depending on the severity of your tear/cut, it is. Use all the goodies the nurses provide to make it feel better. Trust me, my first baby was 9 pounds, 3 ounces, and if I could get through the pain, you can too!

If you thought the days of people touching your stomach were over, think again. A nurse will push on your stomach (aka “massage”) to help your uterus shrink. They do this several times after delivery and it hurts, especially once your epidural wears off. After the hospital, you’ll have cramps (after pains) as your uterus continues to shrink — don’t be alarmed, it’s normal. Mine happened more intensely when I was breastfeeding, and at times, hurt pretty badly.

You are going to bleed like crazy. The first few days are the worst, but your body will rid itself of blood for the next four to six weeks after birth. When the hospital asks if you want the underwear and pads that they have, take them! They’re made for this, and you won’t want your personal underwear getting ruined.

Bowel movements hurt. After everything you went through down there, it’s simply not pleasant. Drink lots of water, and eat fiber-rich food to make it a little easier.

You might experience postpartum depression. This is a serious issue, and with a history of mental illnesses in my family, it’s something I paid very close attention to. I made sure I knew all the signs and symptoms before I had the baby, and I asked my family to keep a close eye on me. Luckily I did not experience it, but thank goodness there are many resources to help if you do.

Even though much of this sounds painful and scary, after a few days or a couple of weeks, it’s all manageable as your body gets back to how it was before you grew a baby for nine months.

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