The 10th Month of Pregnancy???

by Guest Contributor

A special treat from Kelly who writes at our sister site 5 Minutes for Parenting.

From 5 Minutes for Parenting

By Kelly

This is my last Pregnancy Journal post, friends, because (cue the angels and confetti) I am no longer pregnant. Baby Kieran joined our family on May 7 (birth story is here), and we’ve been head over heels ever since. I am grateful the editorial staff here at 5 Minutes for Parenting (read: Stephanie, Susan and Janice) graciously gave me a few weeks off so I could stare at the newborn.

But I’m back now, and before I close the chapter on this saga, I feel compelled to mention the hidden month of pregnancy — the month after the baby arrives.

This postpartum period can be just as bizarre and uncomfortable and messy as the 9.5 months leading up to it.

Consider:

1. You’ve had the baby, but you might not look like it. This is especially true the first week after childbirth. My own son looked at me a week after Kieran was born and asked, “You’re not having another baby are you? Because your tummy is huge.”

2. Nothing fits. Maternity clothes are baggy in all the wrong places. Your normal wardrobe isn’t going to see the light of day for another 6-8 months. Which probably means you’ll need to go shopping for a few new pieces to get you through the in-between. And there are few things more depressing than going clothes shopping just a few weeks after having a baby. (Note to Old Navy: Install a fun house mirror in one of your dressing rooms and designate it for new or expecting moms. You’ll be golden.)

3. You will be in the likeness of Pamela. Breast engorgement strikes all new moms, whether they chose to breastfeed or not. It’s intensely uncomfortable and (honestly) just weird. I love nursing, but those first few weeks of my body adjusting itself to the new routine can be brutal. See also: bleeding nipples due to a child with a Dyson-like sucking reflex and gushing milk due to bovine DNA.

4. Your emotions will rise and fall more dramatically than the Himalayas. Even if you don’t struggle with the baby blues or postpartum depression, you will have moments in the weeks just after childbirth when you will think it entirely reasonable to kill someone for asking to hold the baby without offering to douse themselves in Purell first. Then, three seconds later, you will cry uncontrollably when that same person says the baby has your eyes.

“I’d Almost Forgotten That”

And then there are a few after-effects I’d throw into the “I’d Almost Forgotten That” file. These might not happen to every postpartum woman, but they always happen to me.

1. Night sweats. About two weeks after I have the baby, I start to wake up every night drenched in sweat. Medical professionals say night sweats are the body’s way of shedding excess water that built up during pregnancy. OK. Fine. But it’s really cold when you have to get up to feed a newborn every three hours wearing pajamas that could be wrung out over a sink. I suggest wearing cotton fabrics to bed and keeping a fleece blanket nearby. It can help keep the shivering to a minimum while you’re feeding the baby, and provide a cushion between you and wet sheets when you’re ready to climb back into bed.

2. Hair loss. Most women report that their hair gets extra thick and lustrous during pregnancy. I haven’t experienced that, probably because my hair is so thick normally, it has no room to grow. (Although I will say I noticed my hair getting huge at the end of this last pregnancy, but not in a good way. Do you remember that episode of “Friends” where Monica goes to Barbados, and in each recurring shot, her curly hair gets bigger and bigger and bigger because of the humidity? Yeah. I felt a little like that. Only with straight hair. Straight hair that looked oddly triangular on my head from all the volume.) Anyway. Whether you notice a chance in your hair during pregnancy or not, chances are you’ll notice a great hair recession shortly after the baby is born. My hair is already falling out in large clumps. Thankfully, this is a good thing for me. As long as I remember to take the hair balls off the shower wall. I haven’t had to do that for a while now.

3. After pains. For the uninitiated, these are uterine cramps triggered by breastfeeding. From a medical point of view, they are a good thing, because they help shrink your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size. From my point of view, they hurt like heck, and they get worse with each subsequent baby, so ow-ow-ow. Until Kieran, I didn’t know it was possible to nurse and writhe at the same time. Live and learn.

But you know what? It’s worth it. Every pain, every sag, every pound, every ache. It is absolutely worth it. There’s a reason many women endure the bizarreness and uncomfortableness of pregnancy and childbirth for almost a year — and then sign up to do it all over again. Because when you look into those bright newborn eyes, you find love.

Have any bits of wisdom or weirdness to add to this discussion of the 10th month? What was your experience? I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Kelly blogs at Love Well and breastfeeds a baby 14 times a day — and not necessarily in that order.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Allison June 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Oh man, I totally forgot about the night sweats. Ugh, I hated that.

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2 Maggie June 10, 2010 at 10:41 pm

So true….I had my second just over 6 months ago and had completly forgotten about night sweats and the after pains (which were horrible this time).

My older guy (5 years old) looked at me six months later and said…”you look like you still have a baby in your belly”….nice

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3 Shay June 10, 2010 at 10:56 pm

This is all sooooo true! The hair loss was one of the worst parts for me!

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4 se7en June 11, 2010 at 3:33 am

Congratulations on your new babe… Oh I am so with you on the tenth month and I have done this more than a couple of times and I forget every single time!!!!
I wrote about the things I had forgotten after our last born was born, if you would like to take a look: http://www.se7en.org.za/2009/10/20/se7en-things-you-forget-about-newborns-and-newborn-mums

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5 Debs June 11, 2010 at 6:59 am

Oh wow, i thought the sweating thing was just me, glad that’s not actually the case!

I just remember it taking Sophia a bit of time to get used to my smell after I took my first shower at home – she was born on the wed and obviously I showered in the hospital, but then at home I don’t think I managed to get one until the weekend, and she was most unsure about mummy smelling so different!

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6 MJ June 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I really wish I had been better prepared for my postpartum body! The whole “nothing fits” thing really had me frustrated. I hate the idea of having to have separate clothes for so many stages of childbearing, forget that even in my size NOTHING fits 6 weeks after having a baby. They just don’t make cute clothes for women with post-baby bodies…

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7 Courtney June 11, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Oh I so love this post. I am concluding the “10th month” now with our second baby. And everything seems to be more intense this time around. But looking at my princess, I agree it is all worth it.

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8 MacKenzie June 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Yes, the whole belly thing. I was told several times that it took 9 months to put on the weight so make peace with the idea of it taking 9 months to get it off. That I understood but I really wish someone had told me to avoid looking at my stomach that first week.

And your right about the clothes thing too. Lucy is two weeks old so we are starting to venture out more but I only have one pair of stretchy pants that fit and I have absolutely no desire to go shopping. I wish I had done that while I was impatiently waiting for her to arrive. Luckily my husband doesn’t mind doing laundry often.

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9 Jennifer June 13, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Wow! This bring backs memories of when I had my baby girl last December. Don’t forget about the lack of sleep! That is the biggest part of the 10th month that I remember. Now, six months later, I am still working on losing that baby weight but baby girl is so much easier to take care of. All the struggle is so worth it…they are so precious! Congratulations!

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10 Stephanie June 15, 2010 at 3:06 am

I agree. It’s all worth it! Every ache and pain and strange symptom.

So sorry about the bleeding nipples! I experienced the same thing with both of my girls – ouch! But, again, it was so worth it. :)

Oh, and I hear you about the night sweats! That definitely happened to me too.

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