I am a mother. Isaac joined us on the 18th March 2018 in a great gush of joy. Full birth story to follow.
Six weeks on, I have had some time to reflect on the first few weeks which were mostly filled gazing in wonder at our creation and getting used to a whole new life purpose. With motherhood, came some strange little issues I had not foreseen. I had read dozens of "what they don't tell you" articles about pregnancy, birth and beyond but this is my list of what they didn't tell me.
There is a whole section of Boots devoted to absorbent products. They are like normal products any average women may choose to buy for periods etc, except these are supercharged. Take pads for example, Normal pads are kind of thin and discreet and come in neat little packages. Maternity pads are HUGE, thick, fat, industrial type cushions which you can absolutely see when worn under a pair of jeans. My partner spotted the monster just as I was going out on one of my first post birth outings. Not encouraging - at all.
2. ADULT NAPPIES
These are also found in the Boots absorbent materials section and are absolutely brilliant. They are marketed at the post-natal woman and also anyone incontinent. We are both encouraged to buy massive stretchy soft pull on nappies which look a bit like big knickers except they have no nasty seams and literally hold a gallon of liquid without leaking. I secretly loved wearing these and defy any woman to walk out of hospital after giving birth to a baby without one of these on. Sometimes I walked around the house just wearing these and wondered why no one had gifted them at the baby shower.
3. WATERS BREAKING
There are squares of waterproof absorbent plastic pads which accompanied me for two days and 3 nights as I was in labour. I made sure I whipped one under me whenever I sat down just in case my waters broke. I honestly don't know what I would have done without these except to sit or stand in the bath or shower for the whole time, waiting for the waterfall. Ironically, it is also the one absorbent thing I felt like I needed all the time but never actually used until the waters finally gushed out in the last few hours while in hospital. My midwife congratulated me and told me to just leave my pants (and dignity) off and just shuffle around with a few of these tucked under me until the baby arrived. Waters breaking doesn't just happen in one neat go, it continues for hours after and varies from water to blood to other non-descript "fluids".
4. BREAST PADS
Continuing with the theme of leaking fluids, I had NO IDEA what would actually happen when my "milk came in". I had heard the term before but just thought it meant I would just start producing normal breast milk about 3 or 4 days after giving birth (the first few days you produce colostrum or "liquid gold" - very good stuff which doesn't turn your boobs into rocks). when it "came in" - I was horrified. My boobs grew within a few hours to about 5 times their normal size, they hardened like rocks and none of my specially bought nursing bras even came close to containing them and their squirting milk. Que emergency Amazon prime orders for next day delivery of humongous nursing bras and a sad farewell to sleeping without ugly bras stuffed with double layers of breast pads. After that horrendous discovery, I was told they would calm down in a few days, that it wouldn't always be like this. They were wrong. With my hungry baby, my boobs are doing a good job of keeping up the supply. He is a milk monster and as I type this I have him lying across my lap, a boob conveniently dangled above him for instant and constant access.
5. NURSING FASHION
As soon as you add "maternity" or "nursing" to a clothes search you lose all sense of fashion. It's no wonder many Mums feel frumpy and the word "mumsy" exists. I needed to buy new clothes with easy boob access and have come across some ingenious designs. Spot the boob in the photo below which shows baby guzzling away incognito. The best brands I have come across are Topshop and er, that's it. Asos have some nice things but also some awful ones that needed sending back in disgust. If anyone knows of any good small brands, please let me know! The problem with wearing normal clothes is that they don't have the clever little flaps or openings which mean that you end up flashing the sensitive public and ending each feed with big wet patches on the bunched fabric that got caught in the milk stream.