What To Expect When You’re Expecting may illustrate what a typical pregnancy is like, but there are certain aspects of childbirth that affect us in ways we DON’T expect.
Childbirth is typically a roller coaster ride of emotions -scary, awesome, painful, & overwhelming, with an occasional, “Oh my God, I’m going to DIIIIEEE!!” thrown in for good measure. There are moments you anticipate, & then there are the upside-down loops that take you by surprise & make you want to vomit (sometimes literally).
New mom Autumn Benjamin’s viral Facebook post describes just how life-altering the experience of giving birth to her daughter Layla was. Although she debated sharing her experience, she wanted others to know that they were not alone if they felt physically and emotionally vulnerable following childbirth.
Autumn chose to share details about “the hard parts of the aftermath of giving birth” for the specific purpose of letting women know that if they could relate to any of these aspects, they are not alone. And based on the 120K shares that the post has as of this moment, it’s clear that her message is genuinely needed.
Featured with her post is a real, no-holds-barred picture of Benjamin taken by her partner Kevin two days after giving birth to Layla. Most moms can instantly relate to it; witness the multi-tasking of feeding baby while trying to get in a bite of her own meal.
The belly, still swollen, because despite what celebrity moms project, the vast majority of us don’t leave the hospital in skinny jeans.
And the mesh panties… ah, those panties! I’d be lying if I didn’t say I fell in love with those things postpartum (and admit it- you did, too!).
But beyond the obvious aspects of Autumn’s picture are the more subtle shifts that rock a new mom’s world. She describes the surprise of bleeding so heavily following birth- while yes, we moms are told to expect that, it can still be alarming to see it for the first time.
I can tell you for sure that after my first child was born, I was fairly sure after an hour of bleeding that I was definitely dying. Definitely. I assumed no one could lose that much blood & live. It’s a lot of blood, people.
And the pain. You try & prepare for it. Too often when we talk about the pain of childbirth, the response from some is a variation of “Suck it up, buttercup- women have been doing it since the beginning of time.” But for some moms like Autumn, the postpartum pain of a serious vaginal tear can make adapting to motherhood even more difficult & overwhelming.
In her post, she described in detail her own experience:
“I ripped all the way up and down, and also side to side. The weeks following I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t use the bathroom. I wore big depends diapers. I never thought I’d be normal again.”
Graphic, huh? It is, but it’s REAL. It happens, and while it’s an obviously squeamish aspect of giving birth, it’s important to talk about.
While we might expect our lady parts to be a bit…raw, it’s the rawness of our emotions following birth that often catch some new moms by surprise. Autumn beautifully describes the conflicting emotions:
“I just remember laying there in the hospital bed crying. I was crying because my baby girl was finally here… FINALLY! But wait… that means she isn’t protected inside of me anymore. And that’s a scary feeling.”
We expect postpartum hormones, but processing them is another story. What Autumn nails in her description is that exact upheaval. It’s ALL.THE.FEELINGS. It can be overwhelming. And when it’s coupled with physical pain, it can leave a new mama struggling to navigate through her “new normal”.
While the overwhelming majority of post comments have been supportive, a few detractors dismissed Benjamin’s comments as merely “things you should have already known” or negative.
Those that say such things miss the point. Autumn deliberately chose to highlight the rough spots. In her own words, her reason for sharing is:
“I just want other women to know that experiencing these things is totally normal. You can read every book there is about childbirth, but nothing prepares you for when it’s actually happening in the aftermath- never be afraid to reach out to someone and let those feelings flow.”
And based on the overwhelming, heartfelt response her post is receiving, she’s clearly succeeded.