Poop, vernix and unconditional love: 8 unspoken truths about having a baby!
Finding out you’re pregnant for the first time is such an exciting time. You look forward to getting that famous "pregnancy glow", dressing your baby bump in the most gorgeous maternity outfits and having the perfect, pain-free birth.
Of course, you also can’t wait to meet your cherub soon after he is born and caress his smooth pink skin.
Mums-to-be: we reassure you that motherhood will, without a doubt, be incredible and filled with innumerable amazing moments that you will cherish forever. But there are also quite a few unspoken things about pregnancy and having a baby that we think you should know.
Be prepared to laugh out loud and maybe cry just a little bit as you go through this gallery! Just keep clicking next to read about these "truths".
1. Where's that glow?
Some women are lucky to be bestowed with amazingly clear and glowing skin during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is because there’s a sharp hike in blood circulation during pregnancy. This increase makes your face look brighter, resulting in that famed "glow".
But, at the same time, your body is also producing a large amount of baby-making hormones which may cause your oil glands to go crazy. The result is, you guessed it, a really pimply face.
Do not fret if your skin is at the receiving end of pregnancy hormones. Just follow a basic skincare routine using a mild, fragrance-free face wash and an oil-free moisturiser. It’s best to avoid acne-treatment products as the ingredients in these may be harmful to your baby.
2. Poop happens!
An unpleasant topic, but, we must tell you what to expect. Some women poop during labour and here's why it happens: The muscles you use to poop are also the same ones you use to push out your baby. It’s more common just before your baby crowns and can even happen more than once.
If you’re squirming in horror right now, stop. Labour room professionals have seen this happen many, many times and will clean you in a flash.
Oh, and did we tell you about the many shades, forms and volumes that an infant's poop comes in? Perhaps we’ll save it for another day!
So when you’re pushing a child out of your body, you can most certainly expect a bit of damage down there. A baby can literally rip up your lady-bits – your perineum to be precise, located between the anus and the vagina.
There is a way of preventing natural tearing of this manner and unfortunately it still involves cutting up your lady-parts. This procedure is known as an episiotomy and is a cut your obstetrician will make in your perineum to help your baby’s head ease out. The cut will be stitched up after birth.
If you would like to try and avoid both natural tearing and an episiotomy, you could try a birthing position that doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the perineum such as sitting upright or getting on your hands and knees.
You could also have someone provide perineal support, which usually involves pushing against the perineum to prevent it from tearing as the baby’s head stretches it.
4. Why does my baby look like that?
So, you’ve finally given birth to your little darling and he’s placed in your arms.
But why are his genitals and eyes puffy and swollen? Why does he have what looks like cream cheese streaked with blood smeared all over him? Why is his head cone-shaped and why does he have hair all over his body?
That yucky-looking coating on your little angel’s skin is a mix of amniotic fluid, blood and vernix, a white, cheesy material that protected his skin when in the womb. His head may be cone-shaped because during the birth process, his skull bones may have shifted around so that his head could pass through the birth canal.
His genitals may be swollen due to the rush of hormones that happens during birth. The swelling will gradually go down over the next few weeks. And that thin pelt of fine hair you see on his body… that’s called lanugo that will usually rub off and disappear after a week or two.
Mums, don’t worry. Your little one is just perfect and always will be in your eyes.
5. The belly remains
You’d think that after pushing out an eight-pound baby from your womb that your stomach will immediately return to its normal, flat pre-pregnancy state. Not true.
Soon after birth you’ll still probably look six-months pregnant. To make matters worse, your tummy won’t even feel tight and smooth like it did when you were actually six months pregnant, but is probably squishy, wobbly and covered in stretch marks.
This again is perfectly normal and is due to many reasons such as your enlarged uterus, fluid retention, extra fat and loose skin. Not to worry, mummies. Your uterus will soon start contracting, expelling extra blood and fluid and gradually returning to its normal size.
You’ll also soon start shedding those extra kilos you may have gained during pregnancy, especially if you are breastfeeding and exercising. And those stretch marks that may never totally fade away? Consider them your stripes of pride!
6. Lochia, i.e. 20 years’ worth of period
Bet you had kind of gotten used to the idea of not having a period for nine whole months of your pregnancy, right? Well, there’s no easing you back into the sensation of leaking blood once a month. Instead, you are given a stark reminder of what a full-on period is like – clots and all – immediately after giving birth.
Known as "lochia", the bleeding you will now have is made up of blood, tissues and mucous released from your uterus.
Lochia is perfectly normal and should ease in a few months. Meanwhile, bring on those maxi pads!
7. Post-birth shedding of hair (we’re not talking about your baby’s lanugo)
One of the benefits of pregnancy for some mums is a head full of thick, shiny hair. Here’s how the professionals explain this phenomenon.
A non-pregnant person typically sheds up to 100 hair strands a day during the various phases hair growth goes through. However, when you’re pregnant, all those extra hormones interfere with your normal hair cycle, meaning that your hair grows and doesn’t shed as frequently.
But your hair-glory days may come to a shuddering halt after you give birth and you may start to notice bad hair loss. But before you start worrying too much, you should know that this hair loss is quite normal and is caused by falling estrogen levels. Your hair should return to normal by your child’s first birthday or even before.
8. Love's labour is never lost!
We’ve saved the best for last. No more blood, gore and jelly bellies, we promise. Instead, you’ll find out about an exceptional and unique kind of love that only a mother experiences the moment she lays eyes on her little one.
It’s all due to a hormone released during labour called oxytocin. This hormone makes the muscles of the uterus contract in order to facilitate the birth of your child. But it also isn’t called "the love hormone" for nothing, because what it does is make you fall in love with your baby in a way you never knew you could.
Studies have proven oxytocin to increase relaxation, attraction, facial recognition, and maternal care-giving behaviors, all needed to ensure your baby’s survival. Oxytocin is also increased during skin-to-skin contact and levels spike whenever your newborn's hand massages your breasts during nursing.