Some things they don’t tell you about pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum

Inspired by a conversation I had with some fellow mommy friends on Saturday, I’ve decided to list some things they didn’t tell you about pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum in those pregnancy/baby books you read before having your first baby.

The size of your feet / hips can permanently change

Elastin is a good thing during pregnancy. Your body makes more of it so your ligaments can stretch and make it possible for that baby to get delivered without breaking the mother in half. But what they don’t tell you is to mind that this excess elastin goes away pretty quickly, so if you got stretched out, you may not snap back to original size.

I’ve had some friends who have now lost the ability to wear half of their collection of shoes because they can no longer fit them. Either the swelling during pregnancy, or merely walking around while heavily-pregnant, their feet have grown a half size or more. These friends have had to tearfully give their favourite shoes to smaller-footed friends, with the unspoken agreement to never wear these shoes in front of them again.

There are others whose hips have understandably widened for childbirth, but did not return to pre-pregnancy width after the excess elastin goes away.  Even after they’ve lost all the pregnancy weight! They’ve now lost the use of a significant part of their wardrobe, anything with form and structure, anyway. Either the pants and skirts no longer fit over their hips, or those that do now have this massive gap at the waistline.

But did you know about these binding straps and wraps that you can get to try and shrink you back down to original hip width? Now I can’t decide which is worse: a) having to put on this medieval-sounding corset contraption during a time when you are bleary-eyed and half-insane due to lack of sleep with a new baby AND dealing with the insecurities of not knowing what the eff you’re doing as a parent; or b)having to spend yet more money on having to buy new clothes for yourself because nothing with tailoring fits anymore (all this while many of us are on maternity leave and money flies out of your wallet due to baby-related things). I suppose there is option c), which is spending the rest of the next few years in sweats, free t-shirts obtained from giveaways and yoga pants, but apparently that’s not really socially acceptable.

Swelling limbs after birth

T: “OMG! What’s wrong with your feet??” He is looking at the foot of my bed in shock.

Me, with rising alarm: “What do you mean?” I push aside the table tray over my middle to get a better view of what he is seeing. It’s the day after E1 was born by c-section, so I am still not very mobile. My eyes widen.

My feet look like they have been inflated to twice their size. My ankles have disappeared. It’s just thick legs that have feet protrusions sticking out at the end. “That’s not normal, is it??” I start pressing the call button for the nurse. I notice that my hands look chubbier than normal as well.

Apparently, it is normal. Not only was my body still out of whack about how much fluid it needs now that the baby is out, I was still on an IV due to my c-section operation. Thankfully it started to all get back to normal by next morning. I happily welcomed the sight of my ankles again.

Hair loss

There must be some hormone change during pregnancy that somehow stops a pregnant woman from shedding any hair. I definitely noticed that very little hair was falling out and my husband T was so happy to not have to encounter hair all over the floor and clogging the bathtub drain anymore. My hair was lush and voluminous.

And then, a few months after birth, something changes again, and then all the hair that should have shed through the past 9 months, suddenly all comes out at roughly the same time. I thought I was going bald, it was coming out in clumps when I washed my hair. T must have thought I was trying to flush a mohair sweater down the bathtub drain.

Breast pumps and your nipples

Usually things that adorn the breast area can be very feminine, or sexy. Think lacy bras, camisoles, pendant necklaces, perfume. There ain’t nothing sexy or feminine about breast pumps. The mechanical *whrr, whrr, whrr* sound of my electric pump sounded eerily like this breadmaker my parents had back in my teens.

The most alarming thing the first time I used this was how far my nipple got pulled down the breast shield, aka the suction funnel of doom. I don’t think my nipple is supposed to stretch this far! Is this NORMAL??, I wondered. Alas, that was normal, at least, as normal as pumping milk from your breasts using a motorized suction pump can be. I dare you to not feel like a milked cow during the process.

I turn sappy

Before I had my kids, I thought those long-distance phone commercials were made for sentimental saps. I was not one of them.

Then E1 was born, and overnight I unwittingly joined the sentimental sap population. News reports involving injury or harm of children brought me to tears. Those same sentimental commercials that I rolled my eyes at before now punched my gut and gave me the feels.

The phrase, “Won’t you think of the children!”, no longer feels like just a sarcastic punch line anymore.


That’s my list for today. There will probably be another post later as I remember more things I’ve tried to suppress. Do you have any others to share?

~Jen

One thought on “Some things they don’t tell you about pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum”

  1. After childbirth, southbound seems to be your bodies favourite direction, eh?!. What you may gain in shoe size, you lose in bra size. Yup, ever heard of term, your kids suck the life out you…yes they literally sucked the life out of my breasts! Now that my youngest is 5, my hair seems to be growing back (evident by the bangs strategically used to hide the uncontrollable new hair). With the loss of the baby weight, my feet have seem to shrunk by 1/2 size too after growing 1/2 size. So I now have shoes ranging from 6.5 to 5.5…sigh! Lastly, become one with your stretch marks unless you are not opposed to surgery.

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