Birth, breastfeeding, lack of sleep and adjusting to your new role as parents is HARD.

As someone that’s been part of the birth world since I was 18 I’ve seen a lot. I wouldn’t say I’ve been desensitized, because I care about you too much BUT I can be guilty of forgetting just how surprising it is to start this new little life of yours.

Even the most prepared, well read and consistently organized families come across things during birth and postpartum that they never expected and therefore never prepared for.

What makes me sad as someone that’s committed to helping you is how alone and isolated some new parents feel.

So I sat down and I thought about how we can make this better. I go in and out of homes every week reassuring people that the same things are normal and that other families all over the world are going through the same thing.

I guess when you’re exhausted and starting to lose it, it might be a little frustrating to hear that from me ‘the professional’ who slept all night and is only going to be with you for 2 hours.

So I thought I’d reach out to some moms I’ve worked with over the years and that are now part of my awesome Instagram posse to see if they’d like to share their experiences in their own words.

They did!!!!

So here are 12 mum’s & mom’s who were kind enough to share, in their own words what was hard or surprising to them.

1. Expect a lot of opinions….

“The thing I was most surprised about is how much push back we received on different parenting choices. I didn’t anticipate having to defend or justify our choices so often, or to so many different people. I have always said to listen to your gut, rather than the never ending advice you’ll get, but I wasn’t prepared for the “battle” that seemed never ending. We made, what we think, were the best choices for our son at the time, and would do it all again-but this time we are armed ready with the research, and the certainty and confidence of those choices.”

Emilie – San Diego, CA

 

2. When you need help, get help, it makes a difference

“Your body needs to heal and rest so say yes to all the help you can get. If you’re not used to handling newborns (which I was not… at all… never had I ever before), you should ask your nurses/midwives/lactation consultants for advice. I was terrified I’d break my newborn until the lactation consultant showed me a thing or two and gave me confidence to trust my instincts.”

Anne – Washington DC

 

3. “Mom Brain” is real!!!

“I’d like parents to know that having a baby means you forget about anything and everything that doesn’t concern the baby!

I always thought “mom brain” was an excuse but I’ve come to realize that if it doesn’t directly concern the mom part of my brain (as in concerns the baby or kids) then it’s not on my radar. Answering texts, phone calls and emails takes significantly longer now. I constantly lose my keys. I’ve forgotten my own shoes (but remembered the kids’) on multiple occasions. I don’t ever remember where I set my phone down.

The list can go on and on but to be honest I can’t remember the rest of it because… mom brain.”

Celena – San Marcos, CA

 

4. They want to breastfeed, ALL THE TIME.

“I really wish I had known how big a newborn’s stomach is. I spent so much time wondering if they were getting enough, since they’d be constantly nursing. If I had better education on typical newborn nursing habits, I think I would have felt more prepared and relaxed about it, which would only have had a positive impact in those first few days.”

Ariel – San Diego, CA

 

5. Say goodbye to sleep and fancy underwear

“There’s so much advice I WISH I had listened to.

Firstly the physical recovery, my vagina and my boobs don’t feel like mine anymore. Then when people said ‘you will never sleep again’ were 100% correct… I hadn’t prepared for that. Also why don’t people talk about granny panties more?

They are now go to (thongs = what thongs?).

Most importantly advice aside, I wouldn’t change a thing. I wish I had done this years ago, being a mum is amazing and he is one of the greatest loves of my life.”

Carley – Brisbane, Australia

 

6. Recovering with stitches is tough!

“Something that surprised me about postpartum recovery was how much easier those first few weeks are when you don’t tear. I had a minor 2nd degree internal tear with my first baby but it made recovery so difficult…much more difficult than I expected. I was not very mobile until about 8 weeks and had to use the peri bottle for 3 months!  With my second baby I had no tearing and recovery was a breeze.”

Melanie – San Diego, CA

 

7. Blood, so much blood.

“There is so much blood after the birth. EVEN IF YOU HAVE A CESAREAN. I thought it was like suctioned out or something. But no! It lasted 6 weeks for me.”

Jasmin – San Diego, CA

 

8  Trust yourself because this process in unpredictable!

“My first birth was traumatic, not because there was major blood loss or things that went wrong, but because my baby had turned breech in the last 24hrs prior to our induction and now I was having a C Section. I knew a CSec was a birthing option but in my mind I had mentally prepared to give birth naturally. 14 hrs after being admitted for an induction Sienna was born in the theater room. I struggled, I couldn’t hold her as they passed me her in theater, I had her in a football grasp and passed her off, as I was too preoccupied with my OB trying to stitch me up, I was so drugged up in recovery I don’t remember meeting her. I felt like I couldn’t connect with her in those first few days of being in the world and today that makes me sad.

Pregnant with our 2nd child, childbirth scared me even more the next time around. I knew VBAC was an option but I didn’t want to get to 8 cm dilated and be told I needed another c-section and feel like I failed again. So I chose to have an elective section even though the first was medically documented as being the same but this time I was in control. I mentally prepared for it. Focusing on my breathing, what I did and didn’t want to happen in theater and how I would meet and hold my new baby. This was my healing birth.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt right from birth and dealing with babies is that they are totally unpredictable but you have to believe in yourself and that you are strong enough to handle whatever they throw at you because you get thrown different shit every day and sometimes going with the flow is better than against the grain!! The first time you deal with a situation you have no idea but the second time the situation presents itself you do understand better and can take back that bit of control.”

Emma – Brisbane Australia

 

9. Be prepared to feed the big kid and the little kid!

“My first had weaned herself off the boob whilst being pregnant with our second but once Paityn came along she was back on, there are only 18 months between my girls!! I remember the first time I had to feed both of them at the same time… I was with my husband, thank the Lord, and we were in a train station car park and they both wanted some milk!! So here I was sitting in the front seat of the car, with very little room, trying to feed them both. It was a weird yet amazing experience!!”

Emma – Brisbane Australia

 

10. Tongue ties happen and I wish I’d known that sooner!

“I wish I knew about tongue ties. I took a breastfeeding class and in retrospect I cannot believe that they didn’t even mention tongue ties. My son was tied, and we were lucky to get him a revision at 6 days, but that was still more than enough time to cause nipple trauma, slow weight gain, and extreme stress with the hospital not offering tie revisions and pressing us to give formula. I also had an idea in my head that if he had any formula at all he would refuse the breast. After the revision we got back on track and were exclusively breastfeeding by week 3. I wish I had known to ask about tie revisions, and how the hospital addresses babies born with ties that affect breastfeeding.”

Christie – San Diego

 

11. Be ready for anything, things can change

“Before and while being pregnant I had a plan of what I wanted my birth to look like and what I wanted and didn’t want. While having a plan is great, I now know that sometimes your plan needs to be flexible in order to deliver a healthy baby. We took the Bradley method class, finished it and by 38 weeks found out our daughter was breech and I had to have a c-section.

Completely different than wanting a non-medicated vaginal birth. Not only was I scheduled for a c-section but she decided to come a day earlier than scheduled. Be ready for anything and be willing to let go of your plan if necessary.”

Nora – San Diego

 

12. This experience is Truly empowering

“What was unexpected about birth for me was just how empowering it is. I know you read that everywhere and people say it, but it’s really true. When the baby is placed in your arms and all of the emotions course through your body, it’s exhilarating and difficult to explain. As for breastfeeding – I did not expect it to have difficulties. I expected it to be beautiful and inspirational like the books and pictures say. I didn’t expect to need so much nipple cream, SO many breast pads for leakage And to eventually need the support of a lactation consultant. It became beautiful and inspirational, but not without support first!!”

Amy – Oceanside, CA

 


 

The above are open and honest experiences from people just like you.

Some of you might relate! Those of you about to become parents… expect the unexpected.

Everybody struggles with different things.

Most people will agree this can be an surprisingly difficult but amazing journey.

So support each other where you can, get professional help when it’s needed and get ready for anything!

If you enjoyed reading this and/or found it useful, let me know! Better yet share it and let your friends know.

If you have a personal story you’d like to share I’d love to chat. Real moms helping real moms makes a big difference. Follow us on Instagram @birthnow and let me know what you have to say!

If you’re local to San Diego and need help, book now.


My name is Marie I’m a board certified lactation consultant in San Diego! If you’re a new mom, soon to be new mom or know someone who could benefit from some friendly help or advice please see my services here.

 

When I was 18, I delivered my first baby. It wasn’t an accident, I didn’t happen upon someone about to give birth in the street, it was completely legit.

I was supervised in a small but busy NHS hospital while working towards my Bachelor of Science in Midwifery (yes, that’s a real word!) through a University in the north of England.

It was nerve wracking, but amazing. I was hooked!

Fast forward 10 years, I got my degree and worked for a while in England before hopping over to Australia. While down under, I worked in large inner city hospitals in both Brisbane and Sydney, in both high risk units and Midwifery led birth centers.

I was also lucky enough to spend some time in the Jungle with an aboriginal community in Tropical North Queensland. After 5 years in Australia I made the move to San Diego California, which is where I live now!

The whole time I’ve been traveling from place to place, I’ve been delivering babies in quite literally every setting you could imagine.

So, what have I learnt? A LOT!

I hope to be able to write about all the interesting parts!

One thing that always makes me happy, that seems to transcend age, sex, culture, religion, social background, understanding or interest is that EVERYBODY loves a birth story.

This includes sharing theirs or asking me to share some of mine. My 90 year old Grandmother approaches a birth story with the same enthusiasm as a guy I might have dated in my early 20’s, the same as my hairdresser, my dentist, that friend I have that thinks the whole thing is disgusting and plans never to experience it herself, even the guy that sold me my car when I first landed in Australia – come to think of it so did the guy that sold me my car here in San Diego!

Why? Why on earth does everyone I meet, no matter where in the world I meet them, want to know a birth story, or share theirs??

I’ve thought about this a lot and the conclusion I’ve come to is the same reason I love birth and have made it my career. Birth connects us in a way that I don’t think anything else can.

It’s wonderful, unpredictable, unbelievable, intense, hilarious, terrifying, empowering, exhausting, unique, unexpected, life-changing, as well as thousands of other things, the list is never-ending.

The best part is, all of these things are true for everyone that’s ever given birth or witnessed birth throughout time.

It doesn’t matter how much money you have, where you grew up, where/how/if you were educated, how well you’ve prepared for it, how little you’ve prepared for it, what you do for work, if you work at all, whether you have a team of 10 people in the room with you or whether you came alone. This event has such a huge impact on anyone that’s ever lucky enough to be near to it.

Guys in their twenties that really have no concept of what it’s like and are curious, they want to know the ‘gross’ parts. If I had a dollar for every time a guy (and quite a lot of girls too) asked me “Do women really poop?”, I could have retired already. Yes, they poop – sometimes they don’t realize and if they do, they don’t care!

I certainly don’t care and any good Midwife has perfected the art of removing the evidence before anyone has time to worry too much about it. I had a patient’s husband once describe us as “poop ninjas” – a title I never thought I’d have, let alone love!

My grandmother loves to hear all the happy stories. Did they cry? What did the baby weigh? Was she happy afterwards? This helps her relive her birth stories and I never tire of hearing them.

I find a lot of women love an opportunity to share their birth stories and why not? I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that can’t give you a detailed breakdown of the day their baby was born. This goes for birth partners too!

Whether it’s curiosity about a process you know nothing about, or a welcome opportunity to share one of the most memorable experiences of your life, talk about it!

Birth expectations often get completely shattered by the process, which, even when it goes exactly to plan and is considered “normal”, can feel anything but!

I witnessed my first birth from the corner of a room in a birth center as a petrified 17 year old thinking the whole time “there’s no way this is normal, why aren’t we getting help”, but it was! Luckily, I had an experienced Midwife to debrief with – most people don’t.

So the point of writing this is to say, talk about it! Ask about it! Debrief with one another! Know that everyone else was probably completely dumbfounded by the experience too!

Let’s learn to expect the unexpected, let’s laugh about the Midwife that keeps telling you the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you is “normal”. It might make us feel warm inside remembering our ‘birth day’, it might make us laugh out loud, it might prepare us for the fact that almost everyone poops and that’s okay!

Hopefully it will let us see the big picture. We all birth the same, we all get scared and surprised by the same things, none of us are guaranteed the perfect birth, most of us experience something which surprises us. In this way we are all connected.

Connected in the most basic, primal, instinctual way – no matter who you are, we all got here the same way, via the same process, it just happens to take many forms.

Empathizing, sharing and being curious about the unpredictability of birth gives us the ability to see that, when you take a lot of the day-to-day things away, we’re all not so different after all!

 


 

My name is Marie I’m a board certified lactation consultant living in San Diego! You can read more about me here. If you’re a new mom, soon to be new mom or know someone who could benefit from some friendly help or advice please see my services or send them my article about getting the most out of your lactation consultant!

Marie Hobden

About Marie Hobden

I qualified as a Midwife in the UK in 2010 and have been lucky enough to help thousands of families, from all walks of life, in 8 very different hospitals, across 3 different continents.

I’m now based in San Diego, CA helping to normalize breastfeeding for new and expecing families.

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