Recently a pregnant friend of mine texted me, "my boobs just started leaking! Why didn't you tell me about this?" Ah, the glamorous life of a pregnant woman. While I didn't enjoy the pleasure of leaving circles on all my tops until after I gave birth, leaking some colostrum is just one of the many eccentricities of pregnancy. After all, you're growing a life inside of you for 9+ months. From scratch! Things are bound to get a little weird. I responded that at least now she knows the boobs are working and milk is a comin'.
In honor of the many friends of mine who are currently baking a baby, I decided to jot down a few things I never knew before I went and got knocked up:
Contraction (in)action--It's possible to have contractions for days on end and not be in labor. This happened to me. For weeks. Weeks! It's called Prodromal Labor and it pretty much sucks. It's a fairly common situation wherein you experience hours (or days, weeks) of regular contractions that are more painful and more consistent than your basic BH contractions. These contractions (which are sometimes known as the beginnings of early labor, or pre-labor) supposedly help prepare your body for active labor, so they aren’t totally in vain. Pretty much like a really long, annoying warm up routine.
Drip dry--Your amniotic fluid doesn't always "break" sometimes it's more like a slow leak. For me, it felt like I was peeing after I was done peeing. This was actually far more pleasant than having it gush out of me on an elevator (my biggest fear), but can be a bit scary as some women leak without even realizing it. Luckily, the amount of amniotic fluid can be measured by an ultrasound so the doctor will be able to determine if there is any danger.
Pee phobia--Speaking of peeing, going number one after giving birth is nearly as scary as pushing out the baby. A nurse, a squirt water bottle, a mess of blood and a giant maxi pad will be involved. At least you get softeners for going number 2. After the first time with each, the pain is (mostly) gone.
There will be blood--The bleeding, unfortunately, sticks around for a while. Some women experience lochia, post-partum shedding of all that extra blood, for up to six weeks. But, you don't have to wear the huge uncomfortable pads the whole time, as the bleeding gets lighter over time and may stop and start.
Sleep, baby, sleep--Once the baby starts gaining weight, you don't have to feed him/her every three hours. If you are lucky enough to have a good sleeper and a good eater, you may gaze lovingly your sleeping beauty but do not touch, poke, prod or otherwise wake the baby. And get yourself to sleep, stat. I was all set to get mine on a set feeding schedule (yeah, right) when I took him home from the hospital. That is, until the doctor at my first visit laughed at me and reminded me "never to wake a sleeping baby."
PP PD--Your period could start again while you are nursing. And, you CAN get pregnant while nursing full time even before your period starts. I've met a few too many babies less than 18 months apart to believe they were all on purpose. Your body will likely take a few months to regulate itself with all the hormonal changes so unless you want some Irish twins, use protection.
Get In My Belly--You will be hungrier and thirstier than ever before when breastfeeding. I never had any food cravings when pregnant (which actually freaked me out at times) but I couldn't get the food down my throat fast enough when I first started nursing my little vampire. Cookies, cakes, muffins, anything baked had to be consumed by the fistful. It calmed down after the first month or two, but I still need to drink almost a gallon of water per day. I am thirsty all the damn time. And, I pee all the damn time.
Hearing things--Some time after you get used to the sound of your baby's cry, you start hearing it. All. The. Time. This phantom cry was the freakiest thing for me in the first few weeks. I would hear him crying in my dreams, in the shower, sometimes even when I was out of the house. I guess it has something to do with being hypersensitive to the sound in case you need to rescue the baby from a massive blowout poop or an alien invasion.
But, of course, nothing can really prepare you for that magical moment when that baby is pushed, pulled or lifted into this world. Good luck, ladies, and remember to take the disposable underwear!