As a first-time mom, I was shocked by how many aspects of pregnancy, labor, and postpartum people don't really discuss. So I recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me about the childbirth-related experiences that surprised them. I was thrilled to see that they were so honest in their responses. So here are the pregnancy-related truths we should all be discussing more.
Before I write any more, I want to acknowledge that I know pregnancy can be a very difficult subject for some. I hope this article sheds some light on a personal subject and helps others, but I understand that this topic can be triggering for many. 💕
1."I think the thing I was most unprepared for was the fact that I didn't immediately bond with my baby. Labor itself went smoothly. Nothing traumatic happened, but my daughter was nearly three weeks early, and I had convinced myself she would be late. The labor was very fast — about six hours — and suddenly I had a tiny baby I wasn’t mentally prepared for. For the time I had to stay in the hospital following labor, I was completely terrified of her. I always assumed the feeling of bonding would be instant, but it took me three or four days for the shock to wear off and for her to feel like mine."
2."I experienced hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe type of morning sickness, which people more or less brushed to the side. All three of my pregnancies were so hard. I was literally waking up to puke, and I experienced this nausea all day, every day. I was so weak. People told me to consume ginger and crackers as if that would cure it. With my last, my doctor asked me each visit if I was trying to lose weight because I couldn't eat. Because I was throwing up nearly every hour."
"I had hyperemesis gravidarum and was sick every single day despite being on three different anti-nausea medications. I knew 'morning sickness' existed, but I didn't realize it could be so debilitating. I had to stop working five months before I delivered because I couldn't function."
3."I never expected what an emotional roller coaster I would feel in the aftermath of childbirth. One day I'd feel so happy, and the next I’d be a crying mess. It was awful."
4."Gum bleeding and nose bleeds are actually quite common during pregnancy. My gums started aggressively bleeding, and I thought I was having a blood clotting issue. Turns out, this isn't abnormal."
5."I got very bad varicose veins. They basically popped up overnight all over my lower left leg. At first they looked like giant bruises, and I was pretty freaked out, so I called my doctor. My doctor told me that varicose veins are common and should go away on their own after labor. It's been seven months since I gave birth to my daughter, and my veins are definitely better, but they're definitely still there."
6."I thought an epidural would make labor easy breezy. I have a high pain tolerance, so I was mostly wanting an epidural because why feel anything if the baby would just slide out? Turns out, that did not happen. I was in active labor for two and a half hours, pushing the entire time, and I couldn’t feel how I needed to push. I’ve never been so exhausted in my life."
7."I never knew how traumatic birth could be or how hard it would be to recognize early labor signs. I had to have an emergency C-section due to a bacterial infection. I didn't realize my water had broken two days before going to the hospital, and my contractions never seemed to have a break between them. During that time, my baby passed meconium in the womb, which resulted in the bacterial infection. I endured two weeks of start-and-stop labor symptoms. It's been 16 days since my surgery, and I still cry most days from the trauma."
8."After labor, your periods may get heavier. Much heavier, actually. I was warned about this, but I assumed it wouldn’t happen to me because I had a C-section. Turns out, it’s all based on hormones and not the type of labor you have."
9."I got horrible cystic acne. My entire face felt like one big pimple. And it was incredibly painful. It lasted for about nine years after I gave birth."
10."I went through eight years of unexplained infertility before finally getting pregnant. It has been a long, agonizing road to parenthood, but I'm finally on the other side of it."
11."I didn't anticipate how, after having a child, many new fears would be unlocked. These fears of my kid being kidnapped or dying are the most terrifying and nauseating ones."
12."I didn't realize how badly sex would hurt after a C-section. With my first baby, I was in labor for three days and then had a C-section, so I thought painful sex could be attributed to my long labor. But it actually took a few months after my scheduled second and third C-sections to enjoy intercourse again without pain."
13."The food aversions! I always loved peanut butter, but once I got pregnant, I immediately developed the worst aversion to it. Even the smell of peanut butter would make me throw up. After I had my son at 3 a.m., my first breakfast a few hours after delivery was...you guessed it: a bagel with peanut butter. And it was delicious!"
14."Your body will change, maybe permanently. You may not 'bounce back' to your pre-baby body, but remember your body made another human. You are amazing and so strong!"
15."Plenty of people warned me that breastfeeding would be difficult, but I didn't realize just how hard it would be, not only physically but also mentally. I was not mentally prepared for just how time-consuming it would be, especially for the first month. Some days it felt as if I hardly moved from the couch because there was a baby constantly attached to me, and if she was not eating, she was probably asleep on the boob. Breastfeeding got easier and much more enjoyable with time, but the beginning weeks were more than I was prepared for."
16."I expected to have some postpartum depression after giving birth, but I had no idea what it would really feel like. I remember very little physical pain from stitches, contractions, etc., which is a blessing, but I think it's because the emotional pain so outweighed the physical. Bringing our baby home was like going to sleep one night in my normal life and waking up the next in a maximum security prison. I've never felt so trapped in my life. Thankfully, I didn't have thoughts of hurting myself or the baby, but I did genuinely think I wanted to give him up for adoption or run away from home. The anxiety was so bad that I couldn't sleep, even though I was exhausted. On a hopeful note, I want to tell everyone it does get easier. You slowly get pieces of your life back over time."
17."I developed a PUPPP rash, which stands for 'pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy.' It’s a rash that develops in your stretch marks. I had it on my legs and stomach, and nothing could stop the itch. I tried every topical cream and ointment you could think of. The only thing that worked was drinking distilled water with V8 juice for a week to flush my system."
18."People always talk about how horrific labor is, and I was terrified. It turns out my labor was way easier than I had imagined it would be. I had expected to get all of the pain meds, but I ended up not taking any. People certainly have horror stories when it comes to labor, and these stories are terrifying for pregnant women. I wish more people would talk about the good experiences."
19."Ask for stool softener, because as it turns out, that first poop after having a baby is rough."
20."Not only does pregnancy change your vision, but if you have pregnancies back-to-back, your eyesight may not have time to recover, and your vision can be permanently damaged. I now wear glasses because of this. The same thing happened to my mom and a friend of mine. Once you start talking about it, you realize how common it is. I had never heard of pregnancy vision loss before it happened to me."
21."I knew IVF would be hard, but I didn't expect people to be so uncomfortable talking about it with me. Both my partner and I have been very transparent about our IVF journey because there should be no stigma, but the stigma is actually so intense. We have had at least a dozen close friends and family members tell us they also did IVF but were too ashamed to talk about it. I was giving myself 10-plus shots a day and experiencing extreme menopause symptoms for six months. I wanted to be able to talk freely about it without people looking as if they were ready to run out the door."
22."I was surprised that I didn’t like being pregnant. I wanted to have a baby, and I thought being pregnant would be an amazing womanly experience. Instead, I had nausea and weird pains. I felt emotionally uncomfortable with the idea of someone else in my body. That was a disappointment."
23."Both your body temperature and blood pressure take time to regulate after giving birth. I remember lying in bed a few days after I had my first baby, shivering uncontrollably under three blankets, then a few minutes later, sweating through my clothes. It was like having the flu with a high fever; it took about a week to even out. For a while, I also got extremely dizzy in the shower. I couldn't stand for more than a minute or two and ended up taking baths because I was afraid to pass out and fall. This ended once my blood pressure stopped spiking and falling a few weeks after I had the baby. In addition to standard postpartum healing, it's wild how many of our bodily systems have to reset after we have a baby."
24."Postpartum hair loss! It usually starts about three months after giving birth, so it’s often unexpected and overlooked. My hair loss occurred right at my hairline. It took a few years before my baby bangs grew out!"
Do you have something to add about your own experience? Tell us in the comments or write it in this Google form!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.