What is motherhood? Some say it is the toughest hood. Others, a blissful hood. Still, you can never really know what motherhood entails until you become a mom. I remember bombarding Google, my mom and friends with questions about motherhood throughout my pregnancy. I was curious about everything. How can I be a good mom? How do I know if the baby’s bath water is at the right temperature? Can the baby choke while breastfeeding? I desperately wanted to learn as much as possible before giving birth.
Well, it does not matter how prepared you think you are about something. The real experience beats everything you read or hear. Therefore, let me share with you some of the things that surprised me as a new mom.
1. The baby’s first poop is black
I had my baby via caesarean delivery. I woke up after the anaesthesia had worn off to find her baby blanket stained with something black. I looked at my mother-in-law in shock. I was worried that something was wrong with my baby. She read the worry on my face and assured me all was fine.
It turns out, all newborns excrete dark-green to black poop. The black stool is known as meconium. It is usually sticky and thick. The poop is made up of amniotic fluid that the baby ingested before being born. A newborn will excrete meconium for at least the first two days of life. However, once they start breastfeeding the poop colour will change to yellow. So, if you are a soon-to-be mom, do not freak out at the sight of your baby’s first poop.
2. Newborns shed their skin
My baby’s skin was peeling off a few days after giving birth. It started on her legs and hands but soon spread out to the rest of her body. Every time I washed her, I noticed dry patches all over her body.
I learnt that it was normal for newborn babies to shed their skin because it had been surrounded by amniotic fluid inside the womb. Therefore, after birth, it takes a while for their skin to adapt to the new environment.
My mom advised me to moisturise the baby’s skin regularly to help reduce the dryness. Also, dressing up the baby in soft clothing helped to reduce skin irritation. These tips helped me and after two weeks, my baby’s old skin had shed off completely.
3. Babies can feed many times in a day
The first time I breastfed my baby was hard. I had been told that breastfeeding was natural and easy but unfortunately, my baby was struggling to latch on to the breast. This led to sore nipples which made breastfeeding painful.
Unbeknownst to me, I would have to breastfeed my baby after every three hours, which amounted to eight times in a single day. Sometimes, it could be more. The doctor had said babies feed on demand.
Besides, newborn babies have a small stomach which fills up and empties quickly; they need to breastfeed regularly. It also means that you should be ready to change diapers around the clock. If you are a new mom, it is important to take plenty of fluids because they boost your breast milk supply. Also, you will have to wake up a few times during the night to feed the baby so buckle up.
4. Your body will not snap back immediately after birth
In this social media age, people glorify getting back into shape almost immediately after giving birth. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth. Your stomach stretches a lot during the nine months of pregnancy and it takes a while to shrink back. My doctor told me that this is because the uterus has not returned to its initial position. You might look like you are five months pregnant.
So, don’t throw away your maternity dresses just yet. They will come in handy during the first few months postpartum. The best you can do is to embrace your new body as you take care of your newborn. Also, if you had a C-section like me, it is best to avoid tight clothing until your scar has healed.
5. Babies grow too fast
One thing that I did not know while baby shopping is that these little humans grow too fast. I stocked up on cute newborn outfits and would imagine my baby in them. I was very disappointed when my baby outgrew them within a week or two.
Thus, to avoid this mistake it is better to buy baby clothes labelled 0-3 months. This will give you value for money and guarantee a break from baby shopping.
6. You might hate your partner
The truth about motherhood is that it can be overwhelming to a new mom. You suddenly realise that there is a little person wholly dependent on you. The baby needs you to feed them, change them, bathe them and cuddle them. All this takes a lot of effort since you are also striving to take care of yourself.
Your partner will definitely help out but the baby will need you more than they need them. Sometimes only your scent will be able to calm them down. Many nights, you will be seated holding the baby as your partner snores next to you.
Such moments can trigger jealousy and hatred. You wonder why their life seems to go on uninterrupted. They are still in shape and do not have milk regularly leaking out of their breasts.
When these feelings kick in, communicate with your partner. You can let them bathe the baby as you go for a walk. I realised that I came back from walks feeling calm. If the feelings of resentment persist, then it is best to seek counselling because it could be postpartum depression.
Therefore, for all new moms out there, brace yourself for an adventure. Motherhood is a journey of discovery. Each day you learn something new about yourself and your baby. Some things will shock you and others will leave you in awe. Still, I hope what I have shared with you serves as a starting point for an amazing journey.