Although I have 3 nieces, 5 nephews and 72 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 that attend a camp I help run I do not have children of my own. Because of this I decided to poll some friends and family that have recently been pregnant or who are currently pregnant. I've tried to come up with a list of things that potentially nobody has told you before.These things aren't meant to scare you (they are part of the process) but to just give you a REAL expectation. I always want to know the things no-one wants to share so I assume there are other women who feel the same way; this is for you.
Here's what I found:
Hair loss. Did you know about that? Well did you also know you can have new hair growth? A friend of mine said her and her daughter had matching new wispy bangs. Cute? It wasn't her favorite thing.
After a baby is born there is a possibility that the baby could spit up and aspirate. One friend had her baby throw up blood while she was still in the hospital and was very worried about that. She called in her nurse and the nurse said its actually quite common. Babies can swallow a lot of amniotic fluid before birth and that's just one of the ways they get it out. The nurse then took her baby and pumped her stomach to get the remaining bloody mucous out.
For a few days after your baby is born their feces will be black, almost tar like. This is another way for baby to get rid of the amniotic fluid they ingest and is completely normal. After that it will be more of an orange/yellow color.
It's completely normal for you to wake up every 20 minutes your first night home to just make sure your baby is breathing.
It's quite common to get hemorrhoids after giving birth, ouch! This is because of all the pushing. It'll be hard to use the bathroom regardless but if you're having real problems get it checked out there are medications and creams that can help.
If you choose to get an epidural they'll send you home with stool softeners. Why? Because the anesthesia makes you constipated. Another reason why using the bathroom after birth is a difficult task. Usually you'll be on stool softeners for about a week. Also, they will put a catheter in. After they remove this it can be tricky to pee again.
A large percent of vaginal deliveries end up having an episiotomy. In the words of my friend, "so don't go in there thinking you are all cool and don't need one. Even if you do the stretching techniques (which I didn't do) you will probably still need one." This is definitley something to discuss with your physcian.
A few people told me they shook like crazy during birth and couldn't control it; both for a vaginal delivery and a c-section. If you think about it your body is in a state of shock. It's a trauma for your body even though its a natural process.
You can still look pregnant when you leave the hospital. It takes a while for your uterus to shrink back down to size. Breastfeeding is said to help this process along.
Your nipples will darken and get fairly large. They'll never look the same again.
The chances of you pooing while pushing and giving birth are extremely high. Plan on it but don't stress over it. Refer to the childrens book Everybody poops for some support.
Breastfeeding can hurt! One friend had pain for a month and a half while another tried for nearly 4 months and finally gave up. On the flip side I have a relative that breastfeeds with no real problems for about a year. Breastfeeding gives your baby great nutrients but it can be a challenge. Getting the baby to latch can be difficult but the physical and emotional struggles are very real. You could potential get sores, blood blister, mastitis, and one mother had a phase where she almost resented her baby when it was time for a feeding because it hurt so much. The point is to do what you NEED. Try it out and if the physical and emotional struggles over power the benefits of breastfeeding find other options. Talk to your physician about it.
Have you heard of the mucous plug? This develops at the cervix during pregnancy. Towards the end of pregnancy it falls out due to the cervix opening. When you loose this plug it "usually" means you're close to labor. Sometimes that could be up to 2 plus weeks after the loss of a mucous plug. You can also loose your mucous plug twice. This could potentially be that it doesn't fall out all at once or that it has regenerated.
Circumcision is kind of a controversial issue these days. Many fathers want to be involved in this decision. A friend of mine that chose to circumcise her baby recommend doing it at the hospital. That way at the two week appointment it will be mostly healed and you can ask questions about it if needed. Another friend only circumcised her baby because her husband was adamant. Educate yourself on the medical benefits and the social norm of it. It's your baby and you have the choice.
We all know about stretch marks but lets be honest, you have the potential to get them everywhere! Around the belly button, love handles, breasts, upper thighs, arms, hips, inner legs, down the legs to the knees etc. If your mother or sisters don't easily get stretch marks, don't consider yourself out of the woods, its still a possibility.
Go with your "mommy" instincts. Even if you don't feel like you're ready or you feel you don't have these instincts, you do. My Childhood friends doctor told her, "You are pregnant, you don't have a disease, I will not treat you like you have a disease. You are pregnant, it's your body, you are in control. I will give you suggestions/options, but you call the shots!"