7 Things No One Tells You about New Motherhood
Motherhood changes a woman’s life, and the realisation of this fact can make an expectant mother nervous. While motherhood has been shown in abundance in films and TV shows, and there are hundreds of books on the subject, no one can really prepare you for everything that may happen when you become a mother.
Many women forget to take care of themselves because they’re giving all their time and effort to the new baby. But just as information on the baby’s health is important, it is imperative for every expectant mother to know some facts about new motherhood, especially since not a lot of people talk about these facts.
Here are seven things that no one tells you about new motherhood but every new mother should know.
Sore, cracked nipples
This is something that a majority of new mothers go through. The skin around nipples can crack and bleed, and nipples can become sore, for a number of reasons including the baby sucking too hard, assuming the wrong position while breastfeeding, and sensitive skin. Even though this is quite unpleasant, and can be painful, these problems will subside with simple treatment. This is generally not a cause for worry, but to avoid the pain and acute discomfort during breastfeeding, speak to your doctor about the best treatment for you.
Not all moms can breastfeed immediately.
Experts say that expressing milk within the first hour of birth is extremely important, or the milk supply can begin to shut down. Quite often, it takes a while for a new mother to start lactating. This doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. Usually, breast milk comes in about two to three days after giving birth. But for some mothers, it can take longer. There are various factors which can contribute to delayed lactation – a stressful birth, losing a lot of blood, or a premature birth. Speak to your doctor and have them recommend a lactation consultant who can help you.
Breast milk can make babies immune to several infections, including HIV.
Everyone knows the wonder that is breast milk. It gives the baby super strong immunity early in their life. But it wasn’t known until recently that breast milk can also protect against the deadly HIV. Research has shown that exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a baby’s life meant a three to four times reduced risk of HIV transmission in comparison to babies who were given other milk or foods, with breast milk, in the first six months.
New mothers might have contractions for a few days after birth.
Contractions can last for a few days after childbirth, with the most painful ones occuring in the first two days. Usually, these pains start subsiding after this period. This pain occurs because your uterus is coming back to its normal, pre-pregnancy size and location. The pain becomes worse with each pregnancy, being the mildest for first time mothers because they have stronger uterine muscles.
Breastfeeding can also bring on contractions because the sucking releases oxytocin, a hormone that causes contractions. This is a good thing because these contractions help control postpartum blood loss. Ask your doctor for pain relief measures that are safe for you at this delicate stage.
The inability to control bodily functions
Known as stress incontinence, new mothers can lose control over their bladder and other bodily functions. This is one of the most common problems that new mothers face in the first year after giving birth. During childbirth, the muscles of your pelvic floor can stretch and weaken, and because of this, you may feel urine leaking while doing normal activities like lifting something, laughing, exercising, or sneezing. But this is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s so normal that your doctor probably won’t even bat an eyelid when you talk to them about it.
A mother’s body may contain cells from her children for years after childbirth.
Sometimes, during pregnancy, cells from the foetus enter the mother’s body and become a part of her tissues. This phenomenon, termed microchimerism, is more common with multiple pregnancies. The mother’s body can gather cells from each foetus and also transfer them to her next child. These cells, scientists say, can travel to the mother’s heart, and become heart muscles, or the liver, and become liver cells. They can also travel up to the mother’s brain. Scientists have found that these cells may play a role in protecting a mother from diseases.
Postpartum depression is real, and nothing to be ashamed of.
Having a baby is no easy task. With all the physical effects of a pregnancy, and childbirth, a new mother can also go through some changes in her mental health. People expect a new mother to be overjoyed by her new baby, but not everyone can fathom what she is actually feeling. It’s okay for you to feel sad, overwhelmed, or upset. A majority of new mothers experience feelings of sadness, doubt, fatigue, and bouts of crying. These feelings should ideally go away within the first couple of weeks, but if you feel that the emotions are getting in the way of your normal, everyday tasks, consult a therapist specialising in postpartum depression. And don’t be ashamed of asking for help with the baby. You deserve it.