The 7 Stages of Breastfeeding No One Warns You About

You’ve decided to breastfeed even before the baby arrives, and so there you are shopping for nursing bras. Everything seems so exciting. You’ve “estimated your size” and feel you’ll have plenty of room once your milk comes in. Life is swell.

Then the baby comes.

After the baby gets here, your milk arrives shortly thereafter — unless it takes a hot minute, which can happen — and then everything is totally different than you imagined.

Here are the seven stages of breastfeeding — the good, the bad, and the ugly — that no one else will tell you about.

The ‘oh crap, my nursing bras are too small!’ stage

You thought you sized correctly but you didn’t, and the bras don’t fit. You can barely squeeze a nipple in that vaguely ’80s bra with unnecessary flowers and other grandmotherly details.

contain yourself in the Band-Aids — I mean, the nursing bras — you bought.

Read More: The 7 Stages of Breastfeeding No One Warns You About

Milk Does a Body Good,

Laura

5 Embarrassing Things That Happen to Your Body During Pregnancy

Everyone talks about all the same parts of pregnancy: feeling the baby move, morning sickness, swollen feet, ultrasound pics, gender-reveal parties or peeing in the middle of the night.

But no one tells you about the embarrassing parts: the giant moles that will grow on you, the hemorrhoids, the mood-changing labia.

Yup, you read that right, and no, I’m not smoking anything funny.

Here are the things that only your very close girlfriends might reveal to you and that pregnancy books will only display in the back of the book (or in small letters).

1. Hemorrhoids the size of a prune or, worse, a golf ball

I remember the day I felt that hemorrhoid. I thought that a part of my colon was dangling from my rear end. That, or I had another anus or a tail. I was pretty sure I was going to die or have a tail for the rest of my life. I’m not talking about a cute, fake Playboy bunny tail — I’m talking about the tail of my intestines.

Read More: 5 Embarrassing Things That Happen to Your Body During Pregnancy

It Can Be SO Gross!

Laura

The 5 Types of Moms Who Take Maternity Leave

Yay! You’re having a baby. Your job threw you a party. Your coworkers said they’d miss you. They all can’t wait to meet your bundle of joy and hear all about your life as a mom … once you come back to work. You’re coming back, right?

You said yes—although perhaps, you might have crossed your fingers behind your back thinking, “We’ll see about that.” Or maybe you squealed earnestly that you couldn’t wait to get back to your best work buds. How could you survive without them? How could you survive without being in your work element?

Whoever you are on the spectrum of moms taking maternity leave, you’ll probably find yourself in one of these well-known types.

1. The Desperate Coworker:

You feel left out as you watch your coworkers post happy hour selfies on social media. You wonder, “Is that an inside joke about the delivery guy?” You call, text and comment, desperately trying to be included at work …. So much so, your coworkers have referred to you as the nagging younger sister.

Read More: The 5 Types of Moms Who Take Maternity Leave

Working Mom Life,

Laura

These 4 Signs Might Mean You Have Postpartum Depression

(PPD) is more common than you’d think. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 to 20 percent of women who give birth have symptoms of it. What’s more, you can begin experiencing PPD up to a year after having a baby, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

But how do you know you have it? While each woman is different, there are consistent themes when it comes to symptoms, say Mary L. Rosser, M.D., Ph.D., director, department of obstetrics and gynecology, Montefiore Health System, and Allison Kurzman, M.D., psychiatrist and clinical instructor of psychiatry at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

You may experience one, a combination of a few, or all of the symptoms, although it varies by individual, according to Rosser and Kurzman. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, those who have experienced depression or bipolar disorder before, have a family history of mental illness, had medical complications during childbirth, or lacked emotional support from a partner, family, or friends during pregnancy could all be at an increased risk.

Read More: These 4 Signs Might Mean You Have Postpartum Depression

Are You Depressed?

Laura

8 Things Your Partner Will Do During Your Labor Instead of Being a Birth Coach

Your partner is so excited about having a baby that, at times, you feel as if they could totally bypass your involvement in the whole baby-making matter, except for the whole labor part (minor detail). Then during the labor, your partner sounds like a sportscaster and posts photos and updates to Facebook the entire time you writhe in pain. You were sort of hoping for a little help with those deep breaths and pushes . . . but sometimes you have to take what you can get.

Read through for eight things your partner will probably do instead of strictly being your birth coach while you’re in labor.

1. Be a sportscaster.

Your partner is probably going to be on their phone texting the play-by-play of your labor: OK folks, she’s about 3 centimeters dilated. Doctor thinks things are progressing well. But suddenly (fumble!) labor slows down. Doc says we may have to take next steps.

You’re probably going to sit there waiting for them to come do all that fun breathing and supportive stuff you saw in the birth class videos, but instead, it’s more like a round table of NFL chat.

Read More: 8 Things Your Partner Will Do During Your Labor Instead of Being a Birth Coach

Can’t Help Him/Herself,

Laura

What to Expect a Day, Week, and Month After Having a C-Section

When I had my C-section after 24 hours of labor and four-plus hours of pushing, I was terrified and had no idea what to expect. So I know first-hand that whether you choose to have a Cesarean or you end up needing one due to complications, it’s comforting to be armed with as much info as possible regarding the recovery process.

You may not be able to move much. If you had an epidural for the procedure and it was left in place, you’ll have limited activity, says Clark Johnson, M.D., an obstetrician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. It’s usually taken out the first day post-op, though, so you should regain mobility pretty soon.

You could be in a ton of pain, or it might not be so bad. This will vary based on numerous factors, says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. These include: your own general health before the surgery, whether or not you were in labor beforehand, and whether or not the C-section was scheduled or an emergency one. You’ll be given pain meds every four to eight hours, depending on your level of discomfort, says Melissa Walsh M.D., ob-gyn attending physician, department of obstetrics, gynecology, and women’s health in the Montefiore Health System.

Read More:What to Expect a Day, Week, and Month After Having a C-Section

It Takes Time to Heal:

Laura

6 Things That Will Happen INSTEAD of Your Birth Plan

You are seriously invested in having a beautiful birth! You read every baby, pregnancy, and birthing book that exists on the planet and know what your mucous plug does and how Braxton Hicks feel. By the end of your pregnancy, you could have coached the birthing class yourself and sometimes, you were the teacher’s pet. You told yourself you wouldn’t be afraid and could manage the pain. You were most articulate though with your birthing plan. You handwrote two copies to give to the nurses, who when you handed it to them, looked at you like you were not in labor, but indeed, smoking crack, as they walk away from you knowing your birth plan is simply another piece of paper!

No matter how you envision your birth plan going, here are a few things that will happen instead of that glorious experience you concocted!

1. Your Partner Will Fall Asleep at the Wheel 

Instead of being at your side cooing sweet nothings, counting as you breathe and reminding you “You can do it!” about halfway in, your partner will fall asleep. Your sweet vision of being some superbirthing duo falls to pieces in just three hours or less. You consider stabbing him or her in that peaceful slumber.

Or worse . . .

Read More: 6 Things That Will Happen INSTEAD of Your Birth Plan

Plans Always Fall Through,

Laura

That Bulge Above Your Belly Button Might Not Be a Food Baby, After All

Imagine this scenario: You’re a few months post-pregnancy when—bam!—you notice a bulge above your belly button. WTF is going on? Did your baby leave something behind? Nope. You might have something called diastasis recti.

What Is Diastasis Recti, Exactly?
“The condition happens when your abdominal rectus muscles separate and the tissue between the muscles thins,” says Melissa Walsh, M.D., ob-gyn, attending physician in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and women’s health at Montefiore Health System. While you may or may not notice a bulge above your belly button, there’s another test for diastasis recti: If you attempt to do a standard situp and place your fingers between your abdominal muscles, and feel at least two fingers (or two centimeters) difference between them, you could have this issue. The (sort of) good news is that although diastasis recti can be uncomfortable (sometimes causing lower back pain), it’s more of a cosmetic issue than a medical one.

Read More: That Bulge Above Your Belly Button Might Not Be a Food Baby, After All

Is it a Food Baby? Or Not?

Laura

4 Things C-Section Moms Don’t Want to Hear

I had a C-section. Not by choice, but because after four hours and counting of pushing, the baby was stuck. I took a break and tried again. Five hours later? Still no baby. So I had a C-section. It felt extremely weird lying there in a cross position. As a half-Jewish girl, I sort of felt like I was lying on a crucifix as they did the operation. The sensation of my organs being moved around was absolutely freaky, and afterwards, on my very first night in the hospital, I almost pooped myself because I couldn’t get up and my former husband was sleeping in the hospital visitor bed next to me. He couldn’t hear me trying to wake him to help me, but thankfully, a lovely nurse came and I didn’t make a show of myself. Poop crisis averted, only to lead to many poop crises brought to the world by my breastfeeding daughter. Oh, C-section! You were an interesting experience.

There are a few things, though, that as a woman who had a C-section, I would rather not hear from someone ever again.

Read More: 4 Things C-Section Moms Don’t Want to Hear

Ssh,

Laura

The Baby (ies) I never had: A Plea to the Medical Field

I was at the park today with my daughter when it happened. All it takes is one sight,smell, taste, or sound, and I remember my last pregnancy.

Summer time reminds most people of pools, ice cream, sunburn, long days, sweaty nights, sex on the beach, and reggae until the break of dawn.

For me? I am able to conjure up all those things, but I also remember vomiting. I remember vomiting, vomiting, and vomiting. I remember a very cruel family member standing at the edge of my bed telling me to “Put on some lipstick. Maybe it will make you feel better. Hurry up and get better.” This person was saying this after I had been unable to keep anything down–food or liquid–for four days…despite being on IV fluids around the clock and the highest dose of Zofran, an anti-nausea medication through my PICC line. My doctor had been telling me I was a candidate for TPN and steroids, yet I was only 7 weeks pregnant. Side effects are: birth defects and death.

I remember trying to eat watermelon. I remember calling people desperately for help. Help with laundry, cleaning, meal-making for my daughter and husband. I remember the pleas of “Mommy, pick me up, pick me up!” from my 16-month old.

I remember the nastiest piece of garbage resident, who treated me like a piece of garbage as I lay there on a hospital bed, barely able to urinate, despite being on fluids for two whole weeks, around the clock.

I wonder when I will ever be okay with this. That I won’t have that baby, or another baby most likely, ever.

That I will never feel the kicking of a child inside me again. That I will never see an image on a screen of my soon-to be child, and wonder who he or she looks like.

That when my daughter looks longingly out the window at other kids, that I will most likely, never give her someone to play with.

I hate that a special and lovely day with my daughter at the park is ruined by this memory that came up from nowhere. It took the sight of one familiar object to bring me to this place I had forgotten for quite some time.

Some people think I’m whiny because hey, I have one beautiful and healthy child. I should be grateful. Who cares if I threw up and my body basically shuts down when I’m pregnant? No Big deal. I should just accept the losses, and move on, and shut up.

Guess what?

When men discovered the cure for the erectile dysfunction, the world shouted hurray. Plenty of men with worthwhile penises needed this cute, and I can’t blame them for wanting it.

I want to know, OBGYN’s around the world, when are you going to educate yourself on hyperemesis? Some people puke when they’re pregnant, sure, but then there are others who do more than just puke. We puke until we lose teeth, ruin our bodies, lose our vision, and lose our babies either to miscarriage or abortion. Some women die.

When will you give a shit, doctors of the world, that some of us can’t just take a little ginger and crackers? That Zofran, the cure-all for those with average or sometimes severe sickness, isn’t a cure-all?  That Reglan, another common nausea drug, while helpful for some, drives the rest of us crazy? It made me have neurological tics, tightness in my throat, and anxiety like you wouldn’t believe. And with all that, it still didn’t make me feel a lick better.

I just want to know that other than one researcher from UCLA, the medical field cares.  That other than helpher.org. people are listening and creating change for those of us with hyperemesis. People had a hey-day when Kate Middleton was diagnosed with hyperemesis, but even her case doesn’t come close to describing what the most extreme patients like myself dealt with.

Please care medical world, and OBGYNS of the United States of Opportunity.

I will probably never dare to get pregnant again, unless I end up with more support and my career can take another year leave of absence, but I care for my daughter, who is at risk of having hyperemesis in pregnancy since I did.

I want my daughter to not have it like I did. I want her to have as many babies as she likes and can care for, (maybe she won’t want any–that’s fine!) without having to compromise her health, marriage, and life.

I want other daughters and women who still want kids and have had HG to have that chance that I probably will never have.

I care because it robbed me of a healthy pregnancy, and robbed my daughter of a sibling. It shot my career, finances, and pursuits in the foot, and strained my marriage.

I want people to start caring. Pregnancy is not supposed to be some death-enabling stunt. It is supposed to be hard, yes, but not life-risking. Science has helped many women conceive babies, so why not start to help those who struggle after conception?

I was given one amazing and intelligent daughter. I never forget that. I never forget a moment of what it felt like during pregnancy. The first year of my daughter’s life was literally one of my happiest years ever. I was so strained during pregnancy that post-birth, I feasted on all the oxytocin nursing provided me with. I looked at my daughter daily and felt a gratitude words cannot express. I know many cannot have that feeling. That cribs are empty and hearts are void for life for some folks who cannot have kids.

This doesn’t make my losses, our losses, any smaller.

One day I will have to sit down with my daughter and tell her about my three pregnancies. I will have to tell her about how hard and sad they were at times because if I don’t, she may succumb to it in her own pregnancies, and I want her to understand if she does, her feelings are normal.

Many women with hyperemesis gravidarium do not recover fast after birth. Many women suffer post-partum depression and anxiety, PTSD, and numerous physical issues. For the longest time, I could not go into my bedroom for long without feeling panic and sadness because I had lived in my bedroom sick as a dog, all to end up with nothing.

I measured my life in minutes. I could only get through an hour. My chest burned, my heart rate was beyond rapid–150 laying in a bed–and my vision blurred.

I want my daughter to have better.

It’s time to learn about the condition OBGYN’s. You’re not all that savvy in this illness. Medical professionals need to be trained. Nurses, techs, doctors, etc. The nurse who looked at me with my PICC line and said, “Oh just morning sickness,” should have gotten kicked in her uterus for her insensitivity, but I was living on ice chips, and didn’t have the strength.

For those of you in New Jersey, I wanted to share that my OBGYN at the time, Dr. Van Horn, was amazing and compassionate. My high-risk doctor, Dr. Fernandez was as well. In my last pregnancy, Dr. Tal was direct, caring, and educated. Miriam Erick, a nutritionist an HG specialist, was also supportive and helpful to me.

There are professionals who care, but the amount is minute, and the lack of knowledge and treatment in the medical field is astounding and disgusting.

Wake up, people. Women are suffering, and the costs to treat HG patients in the hospitals are astounding. It’s better financially to provide better treatment.

For those family members whose wives, daughters, sisters, or cousins are suffering, try to be empathetic. Imagine starving for days on end. Months. Imagine vomiting for days on end. Months.

Do you think you would be happy?

I may never see another positive pregnancy test again, and if so, may I survive it, but I think for a very long time, I will always say good-bye to those babies.

Goodbye to you that I never knew. Goodbye to you who daughter will never call brother or sister.

Good night to you, and let peace come onto me.

Maybe there will be a summer in which I do not cry for you and miss you.