I’m a first-time mom. I’ll be honest with you, I had no idea what giving birth or the fourth trimester was really like. I relied on professionals, friends, and family to tell me the truth. Well, that didn’t happen. On top of that, what was told me wasn’t exactly true. Every first-time mom should know the truth. Below is a bit of my truth.
“If you do ‘the things’ you’ll have a smooth labor and delivery.”
I ate an ungodly about of dates, drank raspberry tea like my life depended on it, went to the chiropractor weekly, attended prenatal yoga, practiced spinning babies positions, and ate well. I did all the damn things. I did them because I thought they were going to pay off. Let’s just say the labor and delivery of my son was anything but smooth. My (prolonged) labor was awful and ended in a c-section.
“Contractions will come on gradually.”
The contractions I had at the start of labor hit me like a freight train. They were so intense from the start that I thought they must be something else. I thought these couldn’t be labor contractions. I was told the intensity of labor contractions come on gradually and are spaced far apart and move closer and closer together. My contractions would be 30 seconds apart then 5 minutes apart then 3 minutes. No matter their timing, they were awful.
“Healing from a c-section takes 6 to 8 weeks.”
Ummmm…I don’t think so. I think healing from a prolonged labor and unplanned c-section can take your whole life. I am five months postpartum and my body is nowhere near healed. Sure, the scar has healed but my body still feels wrecked. They never mention the emotional healing that is needed, do they? Well, it is super real. Right after my son’s birth, I felt like a warrior goddess. My son and I survived a total of 36 hours of labor! 24 hours of unmedicated labor with 4 hours of pushing. 12 hours of labor with an epidural and pitocin with two hours of pushing. But, as the postpartum fog started to lift, I knew my heart was broken. I no longer felt like a warrior goddess. I felt defeated. What about the birth I’d done everything possible to prepare my body and mind to experience? Why didn’t that happen for us? I mean I did all “the things”, right? The truth is there is no time frame on healing. It may take your whole life.
“Breastfeeding makes the baby weight melt off.”
Please, stop telling women this! It isn’t true for all women. I think it may only be true for a small number of women. I believed this before giving birth. So, after giving birth, when the weight didn’t fall off, I thought I was doing something wrong. Maybe eating too much? Or still, healing from an intense birth? But, the reality is that for a lot of women breastfeeding encourages the body to hold onto fat.
One true thing that was told to me is that every pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum is different. This is very true. My experience is my own. I can’t expect others to have predicted what happened. But, I think a little bit more honesty about the possibilities is what first-time moms really need.