When I got pregnant, if I’d believed everything I heard about my life and body post-pregnancy, I might have cried for nine months straight. The way our culture presents the after baby part can be polarized: either it’s an unmitigated disaster from which you never recover your lost self, or it’s a blissful heaven of baby head smelling and snuggles and strangers telling you how adorable your infant is.
Of course, no one’s life experiences fall into one category, good or bad, and the same is true for your life and your body after this little person makes an appearance. What is for sure is that as a new mom you will eventually fall deeply in love with this child, and your heart will, like the Grinch’s, grow three sizes bigger.
1. Your bond will be immediate.
Not always, actually. Some moms just take longer to feel that intense connection. On the hilarious Amazon Prime show “Catastrophe“, new mom Sharon worries about her lack of keeping bonding with her infant girl, until one day, it just clicks. ‘There it is!’ she shouts at her husband, smiling at her baby.
2. Supermom is a complete and total myth.
Maybe Angelina Jolie is supermom, but she’s got a million bazillion dollars and Brad f’n Pitt at her side, so please, no comparisons. In your mind’s eye, you may see another mom you know who appears to be ‘doing it all’, but please know that behind her cool and calm exterior is some secret thing that she is just not. getting. done. Because doing it all is possible, but not doing it all well and calmly. Choose what matters. Let the rest be.
3. Your vagina will be cavernous.
Your vagina will be stretched out. For weeks. This is absolutely true. Not true is that your vagina will be forever stretched out to the point where your sex life is never the same. The magical V is made for this, hand-crafted by the very will of the Universe to deliver babies through it’s incredible self, so the bounce back is not a problem. The secret is to give a few months before sex. Don’t stretch the exhausted girl before she’s rested. Let the V be.
4. You will never sleep again.
This can be true, sure. But it’s not written in stone that you won’t get any sleep. The fact its that parents who have babies who don’t sleep well just talk about it a lot, loudly, because they are overwhelmed with exhaustion. The parents who have babies who sleep well and aren’t crying — and this actually exists — often just go about their lives. The amount of sleep you get also depends on how much help you have; if you have a partner who shares nighttime duties, you’ll definitely be getting more sleep.
5. Nursing totally ruins your wonderful breasts.
I have nursed my babies, and my breasts look amazing. I say this not to brag, but to offer a much needed perspective on this issue. All I hear about is women saying how their breasts look terrible after breastfeeding, or how they were ‘ruined.’ For one, nursing your baby is an incredible experience that results in some seriously intense (as in, tear provoking) bonding and feelings of love (it can take a bit to get to that point, but it’s worth it) and so is not ruining your breasts, but using them for their intended purpose. For two, with proper care, your breasts can continue to look great. I have worn a well-fitting bra constantly, have great sports bras to avoid bounce, rub oils on my breasts regularly while nursing, and have in general stayed in shape. If this doesn’t matter to you, fine, but if it does, there are things you can do.
6. You will feel very happy (or very sad).
The truth is, nobody knows how they are going to feel after their baby is born. You could have planned for this baby and dreamed of nothing but this baby and still find yourself seriously depressed afterward. Or, like me, you could have gotten pregnant at eighteen and been completely shocked, and after your baby is born find you’ve never been happier in your life.
7. You need to immediately get back into shape.
Having a baby is one of the most startling, amazing, confusing, wonderful and life-changing experiences you will ever have. You can make a choice not to minimize this incredible experience-all the good, all the bad-by focusing right away on how your body looks. It’s OK to not think about your body for a while. I PROMISE. It’s OK to let your body just be. It’s better than OK, it is actually part of what having a baby can teach you, if you are teachable. Take some of the intensity of your self-appraisal away. Be with your baby. Love your baby. Love your body.
8. Your partner won’t desire you as much.
So yeah, sex may be on the lowest totem pole for a while. That doesn’t mean your partner sees you as less sexy because you had/have a baby. It most likely means you guys are tired, overwhelmed, in love with the baby, and taking a break from the part of your life where you are all about the mojo. My husband has seen my guts piled on me during a C-Section (sorry, honey!) and it did not affect his desire for me one little bit. Or if it did, he’s never let it show!
9. You’ll be totally boring and stuck at home.
If you want to, you can go out with your baby, and yes, even travel. It usually depends on how motivated you are, although if you do have a colicky baby, travel might have to wait while you figure things out. Plenty of moms and families go out into the world with an infant, and there are lots of tips on how to travel with babies. If you don’t want to travel, but just want to go to local parks, beaches and gathering places, the right baby carrier, sling or baby backpack can let you move around with ease.
10. Your relationship with your spouse will be ruined.
The first two years after a baby is born are extremely different than the two before the baby, and obviously that includes your love relationship. If both of you go into it knowing that your time together is going to seriously but not permanently alter, and both of you commit to communicating and finding ways to stay bonded, your relationship can be stronger and more intimate than ever.
Related-ish: 20 Great Hacks For Millennial Moms To Get Down With