Stuff Nobody Tells You About Labor and Post-Delivery

Stuff Nobody Tells You About Labor

This is the second part of a two-part “Stuff Nobody Tells You” series. Today we’re talking about things nobody tells you about 1.) going into labor and 2.) the days following your delivery. Check out last week’s installation, which focuses on things nobody tells you about being pregnant. 

A lot of websites, books, experts — and even formerly pregnant women — will sugar coat pregnancy, labor and the days that follow delivery. It’s not necessarily because they want to mislead you, but I’d wager it has something to do with not wanting to go there.

We went to real women and we asked them a real question: “What are some things nobody ever told you about labor and post pregnancy that took you by surprise?” And you know what? We got real answers.

Labor is Equal Parts Scary and Exciting

Labor is both invigorating and nerve-wracking. It’s exciting to think about the first time you’ll hold your precious baby and thoughts of what the future holds can yield overwhelming joy.

On the other hand, it’s natural to feel scared or uncertain about the whole delivery process, especially if you’ve never given birth before. While every woman ultimately has a unique experience, there are certainly some things books, websites and gurus don’t tell you that lots of women go through.

These ladies are here to instill a little knowledge based on their experiences:

“They don’t tell you that although many things are signs of impending labor — contractions, dilation, effacement, water breaking — these things may or may not happen and could be in any order. They could also mean that you still have several weeks until labor.” — Danielle B.

“I didn’t know that while you have the epidural, the nurses have to empty your bladder. They use an open catheter of sorts and just drain it into a bed pan. So bizarre!” — Kailee B.

“[They don’t tell you] how terrible the clean up process is after delivery. I thought you were in the clear once the baby came out, but it only gets more painful!” — Amanda W.

“After you give birth, they mash on your stomach to get your uterus to go down!Ouch!” — Ashley F.

“The one thing I wish someone would have told me was that inductions often fail. And even though my daughter was a week overdue, that I would be able to wait it out another week before being medically induced. My induction failed and resulted in a C-section. Opposite of my birth plan, hopes and dreams. More expensive than anything. It has set the stage for my future pregnancies. And it’s the one thing I wish someone would have shared. My baby was healthy and safe and that’s all that matters in the end, but it was traumatic for all of us.” — Charlee M.

Expect Skin and Hair Issues Post Delivery

We already talked about the things you deal with during pregnancy, such as stretch marks (especially in the final weeks) and itchy skin.

Following pregnancy, you may experience acne as a result of dramatic hormonal shifts your body undergoes. Another post labor skin woe? Hives and/or rashes.

“I had no idea that after giving birth I would break out with a horrible rash and itch for weeks after,” says Danielle B, who added that four months after giving birth her hair began falling out in globs.

Brittany S., and many other women, experienced the hair loss, as well.

“I had no idea that your hair would fall out and then you’d have fly aways, as your hair grows back in, for months and months,” she said. “I looked ridiculous.”

Pro tip: Use hair serum and a little medium hold hairspray to lock those fly aways in place.

Breast Feeding is Not As Easy As it Looks

Breast feeding is a very natural process. That doesn’t mean it’s easy (same goes for labor, obviously). In some cases, your baby may not latch on or feed, which can be frustrating for new moms. Breast feeding can also be very uncomfortable.

“The worst thing for me was after delivering our second, third and fourth children — different pregnancies, not quadruplets — the breast feeding at the beginning hurt worse than contractions during labor,” says Ashley F. She said the added (and unexpected) pain was the result of her uterus contracting while she breast fed.

You can also experience sensitivity, sometimes quite extreme, around your nipples. Other women have reported chaffing and bleeding at the nipples, too.

“If you have to stop, for goodness sake, do not stop cold turkey.” says Lorna K. “There is excoriating, hardness, heat and pain involved while your body tries to absorb all the milk you’re producing that can go on for a few weeks.”

She speaks wise words.

The “Baby Weight” 

You’re probably aware that any excess weight you gain doesn’t magically disappear the moment you give birth. What you may not be aware of, however, is that your pregnant belly holds its form for a while.

“You look six months pregnant after the baby comes,” says Emily D., “so don’t pack your skinny jeans.”

It may take months for that “pregnant belly” look to go away, and even longer to lose any additional weight you put on. Breast feeding will help with the post-pregnancy weight loss, as will an exercise routine and healthy diet. Ultimately, you should be patient and treat your body well.

The Post Labor Bathroom Tango

Just when you think you’re in the clear, nature calls. And it hurts. While a cooing baby in the next room will make it all worth it, do keep in mind that going to the bathroom following delivery will likely be unpleasant.

“No one tells you how miserable your bathroom trips are going to be the first week or so after labor,” says Brittany S., who’s a mother of one and pregnant with number two. “You’ve got to use squirt bottles with warm water to pee.”

Why the squirt bottle? It’s essentially a makeshift bidet, since wiping post-delivery is extremely painful.

Another thing Brittany warns about: Hemorrhoids, which make it hard to find a comfortable sitting position.

The Good

Painful trips to the bathroom, extra baby weight and painful nipples aside, post-delivery is a really special and amazing time in your life. It’s life changing, really.

You’ve got your little family and a future that undoubtedly holds incredible memories, a deep love you never thought possible and loads of heartfelt moments. Cherish every second of it all.

So there you have it, ladies. The funny, the scary, the good and the weird. May you confidently navigate your pregnancy now that you have a more detailed, insider’s peak into the joys of expecting.


This page was last updated on 06/2017
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