So much is written about being pregnant and giving birth, but very little information is shared on what to expect after your baby is born. I wish more was shared on what might happen after childbirth, as this would better prepare new mums for what could be in store. Personally, I felt completely unprepared after the birth of my son this year.
1. You will have no time to yourself
My baby is seven months old now and it has been a very steep learning curve. It is really funny looking back. I though I would be a lady-of-leisure whilst on maternity leave as I wasn't 'working'. In the real world, I am lucky if I get time to brush my hair.
2. You need to manage your baby's sleeping pattern
My baby slept very little during the day until he was seven months old, he only had three naps of thirty minutes each. This meant I had no time to get things done during the day. He has now started to have one long nap, which really helps, but I had to feed him at the right time and physically put him to bed to get to that point. If I got the timings wrong, I could forget it. I wish I had realised that months ago.
3. Your hair falls out
When my baby was three months old my hair started to fall out in chunks. I didn't expect this and I found it alarming. However, it is entirely normal as when you are pregnant you tend not to shed hair. So after your baby is born the hair you should have shed over the nine months falls out all at once. The good news is it grows back, but be prepared to have less lustrous locks for the first year after childbirth.
4. Your ligaments might be loose for six months after the birth
Whilst pregnant my pelvis became very unstable and even walking got tough towards the end. After my son was born my ligaments remained extremely loose for six months. This meant I couldn't do a great deal of exercise, even fast walking was difficult for the first few months. Everyone is different but I would be extremely cautious of new mum's boot camp style classes. It horrifies me when I read about intense new mum boot camps with 'lots of stretching'. Lots of stretching is the very last thing a new mum should be doing as your ligaments take time to recover.
5. You bleed for up to six weeks after the birth
After your baby is born you will have what seems like a heavy period, and you can't wear a tampon. So you have to wear a sanitary towel for around six weeks. Luckily the blood flow lessens over the weeks. This bleeding is the body's way of getting rid of the lining of your uterus (womb) that builds up in pregnancy.
6. You might have more weight to shift than you ever expected
It really surprised me how much weight I had to lose after having my baby. I didn't eat voraciously but my pregnancy hormones were three and a half times higher than normal. This might have meant I was always going to store more fat than most people as your body is designed to store about seven pounds of fat during pregnancy for breastfeeding.
7. It will change the relationship with your partner
When you are pregnant you just don't think about who is going to do what after your baby is born, you are just dealing with the here-and-now. So after your baby is born you have to determine the role of both parents in looking after baby. This change in roles and responsibilities can put a strain on the strongest of relationships, so it makes sense to keep communicating and supporting each other.
8. Breastfeeding is not easy and has an impact on your hormones
Breastfeeding can take six weeks for baby and mum to learn. Nobody tells you that, and it is discouraging when it doesn't come naturally as you feel like a total failure. I guess if you knew beforehand that it would take time to master you would feel relaxed about it. In order to breastfeed your oestrogen levels have to be low. This drop in your hormone levels can lead to vaginal dryness, night sweats, lower libido, and hot flushes. Of course, breastfeeding provides the very best milk for your baby, and therefore, very worthwhile. But, it isn't always as easy as we are told.
Lorna Balfour is a personal trainer, lifestyle coach and new mum.