All those images of moms and babies staring lovingly into each other’s eyes can lead you to believe that life will be a certain way once you’ve given birth. We’re here to tell you that the reality might be, well, a little different.
Birth is medical as well as magical
Yes, there will be that intense, never-to-be-repeated, overflowing-with-emotion moment when your baby is placed on your chest for the very first time, but there will also be some anxiety-inducing moments when she’s taken away to have her Apgar test or if she needs immediate care from the paediatrician. It might make you feel as though you’re losing control, and you may be desperate to get her back in your arms, but you may be so exhausted from the birth that you’re entirely numb and can’t think straight.
Things you think should be natural sometimes feel anything but
Breastfeeding. It’s a natural process, so how hard can it be? Very hard. Yes, it’s something that your body and your baby both want to do, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to learn how to do it. Prepare to have your nipples pulled and pushed by strangers as they try to help you get a handle on what to do. And remember that, even if breastfeeding is best, what’s ultimately the right thing for your child (and you) is getting food into that tiny body in a way that’s comfortable and stress-free for both of you.
There will be pain
And blood – lots of blood, whether you’ve had a C-section or natural birth, so remember to add maternity pads to your list of must-buys. The pain, though, may take a variety of surprising forms: if you’ve gone through labour, you’ll obviously experience tenderness for a while, making it hard to go to the loo or even just sit (although your doctor will give you tips on how to handle this). If you’ve had a C-section, your cut will hurt, but you may also experience a burning, pulling sensation from your internal stitches, which may last longer than you anticipated. Oh, and then there’s the pressure on your boobs when your milk comes in – not to mention the pain of chewed nipples…
Your emotions might not be quite what you expected
Brace yourself for the guilt that is part of motherhood: guilt that you don’t, actually, want the attention and “help” from all those well-meaning visitors; or even guilt that you don’t feel the insane rush of love and that supposedly infuses each of us when we look at our babies. Maybe you just won’t – and that’s fine. Although it will become your natural inclination to put your baby first from now on, you also need to remember that you are an ordinary human being going through an extraordinary process.rst-
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.