All The Questions Every New Mom Googles After Giving Birth, Answered

Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional! I am a writer who happens to be a mother. The responses to the questions listed below are gleaned from personal experience and the research I’ve done in the aftermath of giving birth.

new mom computer baby on lap

How long does it take for your belly to go back to its normal size after giving birth?

Listen, it took NINE MONTHS for your belly to get to the point where it could house a full-term baby, so chill the fuck out. Give your body a minute, okay? Actually, give it several months. You’re probably still going to look pregnant for awhile. The speed with which your belly returns to its pre-baby shape depends on a lot of factors, including your pre-baby weight, how active you were before and during pregnancy, and your genes. From the second you give birth, hormones are already hard at work signaling your uterus to contract, which is step one in the belly shrinking process. Typically, it takes about 6 to 8 weeks for a woman’s uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy, lemon size. But it’ll be awhile longer before you look and feel like yourself again. In the meantime, be as healthy as possible without putting undue pressure on yourself. Your baby deserves a mama who doesn’t fixate on her weight and shape. There are sooooo many more important things to fixate on anyway, like how adorable that tiny child you created is.

Does your belly button permanently change after giving birth or does it go back to normal?

Although your uterus is likely to contract within 6 to 8 weeks of giving birth, you can’t expect your skin (or belly button) to return to its pre-baby condition THAT fast. Your skin needs a little more time, okay? So give it some room to breathe. The belly button was stretched to its limits while you were carrying your little one—your innie probably even became an outtie temporarily—and it may or may not eventually return to its more taught, pre-pregnancy shape and size. If you stick your finger in there post birth, it’ll probably feel a little wider, which is weird. Then again, you can get used to a belly button with a slightly larger circumference. In fact, you probably won’t have time to think too much about it in between changing diapers, feeding baby, and looking out for all of those adorable baby milestones.

Do stretch marks ever go away?

Bad news. Stretch marks do NOT go away, necessarily. They’re kind of like scars, in that they tend to fade over time (about six months after giving birth you can expect them to start looking less in-your-face, I-just-gave-birthy), but you can’t expect them to disappear altogether. There are a bunch of companies out there that will try to sell you various products that can allegedly reduce the appearance of stretch marks or eliminate them, but you’re probably better off saving your money. Moisture is great for the skin, whether you have stretch marks or not, so lube the fuck out of your belly and body with your favorite lotion or some coconut oil! But also maybe try to embrace your new, lined look! Each stretch mark is in fact evidence of the awesomeness that is the process of BUILDING A HUMAN LIFE. Without those lines, your little one wouldn’t have had a lovely womb in which to grow for 40 long weeks. So own ’em, mama.

Does the line on your belly go away after birth?

Yo! That line’s got a name, actually: Linea Nigra, which is fancy speak for “black line.” That’s right, that shit is D.A.R.K—darker than its stretch mark counterparts, which means it’ll probably need more time to fade (think a year instead of six months). Don’t count on it disappearing altogether, or trust any products that promise to make that happen for you. The good news? There is now a road map from your abdomen to your pleasure parts. So if your significant other ever gets lost, you can just point them to your beautiful, brand new happy trail!

Is it normal to have night sweats after giving birth?

Yes! It’s totally normal! It may be super troubling, because shivering in bed or on the couch as you sweat your ass off makes it doubly difficult to look after a newborn, but the unpleasantness isn’t usually a sign of anything abnormal unless your sweats are accompanied by a fever or some other odd symptoms. The good news? This is your body’s way of expelling excess water. Throughout pregnancy, you gained a significant amount of water weight that your postpartum body just doesn’t need anymore. So with each uncontrollable wave of shaking and sweating, just picture the number on your scale ticking down. It’s kind of like working out without having to exercise! Yay!

What are the main symptoms of postpartum depression?

If you think you may be suffering from postpartum depression (PPD), please do NOT stop here in researching your symptoms. I am grossly unqualified to provide help to those suffering from a serious mental health problem as I am NOT a medical professional. The American Pregnancy Association is a way more helpful resource than I am. As is the Mayo Clinic. And Maternal Health Now. What I can tell you is that PPD affects a lot of women, and that it often goes undiagnosed. While feeling exhausted and overwhelmed in the postpartum stage (also know as “the fourth trimester”) is entirely normal, feeling hopeless or consumed by guilt is not. Many women experience a bout of the “baby blues” in the first few days after labor. But if the baby blues don’t improve after about two weeks, you may be experiencing postpartum depression, and you should seek help stat. Possible symptoms and /or signs of PPD include the inability to make decisions, losing all interest in things or activities you once enjoyed, fixating on whether or not you’re a good mom, and considering self-harm. If you suspect that you have postpartum depression, it is NOT a sign of weakness, but rather a complication of pregnancy. Please consult a trained professional.

What’s the difference between shaking your baby and rocking it?

I know, I know. It’s kind of confusing. Where does the line between “rocking” and “shaking” lie? They warn you about not shaking your baby, and you get it. Violently shaking a baby is a terrible idea! But considering just how fragile a newborn is, it can be tough to know when rocking or bouncing the baby might inch its way into shaking territory. The answer is to be as gentle as possible. And if you sense that your movements are being driven primarily by emotions—particularly negative emotions like frustration or exasperation—stop whatever you’re doing, put the baby down somewhere safe, and give yourself time to regroup. Even if the child is crying, it’s always a good idea to give yourself a little break if you’re starting to feel super annoyed at the world and/or your baby. Don’t be ashamed if you need a few minutes to yourself now and again. Babies are super demanding little creatures and tending to them is a full-time (often thankless) job.

Why is my baby head-butting my chest so much?

Your baby is hungry! When a baby pecks at your chest, it’s because they want the boob or bottle. That head-butting motion might seem odd, but it is actually a natural reflex known as “rooting.” Some infants begin rooting within the first hour of being born—that’s how natural it is for them to hunt for food. Luckily, a baby will often root before it tries crying in signaling that they’re hungry. So take the cue! Feed that baby! Otherwise, they’re sure to start wailing if that’s what it takes to get the “I’m hungry” message across.

Is head bobbing a symptom of Tourette Syndrome or is my baby really just that hungry?

Your baby is most likely that hungry. Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome don’t typically present until a child is between ages 3 and 10, so that head butting / pecking / rooting around is most likely a signal that your baby needs to eat. Again.

What is mastitis?

Mastitis is the catchall name for any infection of the breast tissue. If you’re breastfeeding, you are prone to developing lactation mastitis. Symptoms of mastitis mimic the flu (fever, sweats, soreness, fatigue, etc.), with one very special addition: Your boobs will feel as hard as rocks! Your beasts might also look red and feel extremely tender because they’re so inflamed from the infection. The cause of lactation mastitis is a blockage in the milk ducts, which can happen if your baby isn’t latching properly, or if they favor one breast over the other. If you’re one of the many women who develops lactation mastitis (1 in 10 breastfeeding women will develop it at some point), the good news is that it’s generally curable within a much shorter timeframe than the typical flu. And guess what the best cure is? Breastfeeding! That’s right: The cause and cure of this prickly dilemma are the exact same. More power to you, Mother Nature. Seriously, though, if you continue to breastfeed, the backup of milk in the ducts will eventually subside, bringing your boobs (and you!) great relief.

How do you know if you have mastitis?

Your boobs will hurt like hell! They will also feel harder than you ever thought possible. You might also see redness on your chest. Sometimes, women also develop an accompanying fever. Yes, it’s hard being a woman. But think of how awesome it is that you’re capable of providing your baby every single nutrient it needs for the first year of its life! You’re amazing, mom.

Do I need to see a doctor if I have mastitis?

It’s always wise to consult a medical professional, who can diagnose you officially and prescribe antibiotics if necessary.

How do you treat mastitis?

Most importantly, call your doctor before listening to any Internet instructions. If you’re breastfeeding, many recommend continuing to breastfeed, which can do wonders to speed up the healing process. Drinking lots of water, wearing loose fitting bras / tops, and getting lots of rest can also help. Oh, and take warm showers, which can relieve the pressure in your chest (read: trigger leaking!).

Will my nipples lose all sensitivity after they’ve hardened from nursing?

I get it. You are angry AF that you even have to consider this possibility. You’ve worked your butt off to build a baby throughout 40 weeks of pregnancy, and now you’re doing everything you can to help it survive by giving it the nutrients it needs through breastfeeding. And they’re telling you that breastfeeding your baby might forever impact your nipple sensitivity??? I mean, to some degree it makes perfect sense. If you think about the fact that a tiny human is suckling your nipples several times a day for weeks on end, it makes sense that that body part would be impacted longterm. But you don’t WANT to believe it. Here’s the thing: Some women report that their nipples are forever changed from breastfeeding, either in color, shape, size, or sensitivity. But others report that their nipples don’t change at all from nursing. And still others claim that their nipples change, but eventually go back to exactly the way they were pre-pregnancy. In short, there’s no way to no what will become of your nips until you’ve lived to tell us all the story.

Why does breastfeeding hurt so much and why did nobody tell me this?

It’s weird, right? You know so many people who were once babies, and so many people who’ve had babies. But NO ONE bothered to explain just how painful the process of feeding a baby from the breast is. As your baby latches onto your nipple, you envision shards of glass cutting through your most tender flesh. It hurts like hell! This beautiful, “natural” process might just be the end of you. I have no idea why no one mentioned this previously.

How old does a baby have to be to use a pacifier?

It’s up to you, really! And your baby. Some parents forgo pacifiers altogether because they fear the effects on the baby’s palate and worry about nipple confusion (when a baby has trouble switching between the breast and a bottle and/or pacifier), but experts are torn as to whether or not such concerns are at all valid. Others dive right into the pacifier waters as soon as the baby’s born because their baby clearly likes to suckle, even when he or she isn’t feeding. As parents, it’s natural to try anything and everything to soothe your baby, so maybe don’t agonize for too long over whether or not you should try a pacifier. Your time is probably better spent trying it and seeing what happens.

What color is my newborn baby’s poop supposed to be?

For the first few months of your baby’s life, while his or her diet consists entirely of liquids, expect their poop to be liquidy, too. Makes sense, right? Typical newborn poop is either yellow, green, or brown. And it’s usually very liquidy or pasty, though it may contain little flecks as well. Basically, if your baby’s poop looks like spicy brown mustard or melted caramel, you’re ALL good. An awesome thing about newborn poop is that it doesn’t smell all that bad. In fact, it sometimes smells rather sweet rather than stinky.

What is meconium?

Meconium is the sticky, green, tar-like stuff that comes out of your baby’s butt before it can actually poop like a regular human. It’s composed of everything your baby consumed while he or she was still inside your uterus—things like intestinal epithelial cells, lanugo, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, and water. A few days after birth, once the infant’s intestines are cleared of all the meconium, they’ll start pooping fecal matter (aka poop) that is typically less thick and sticky and a different color.

How often is a newborn supposed to poo?

Once your baby graduates from expelling meconium to pooping like a real person, the frequency with which they poop depends at least in part on how they’re fed. If your feeding your baby formula, expect up to 4 gifts of stool per day. If you’re breastfeeding, expect about 3 to 4 very liquidy stool gifts per day. That said, a baby’s bowel movements can ebb and flow. There may be a day of six poops, or a day of grand singular poop. As long as they’re continuing to pee (an indication that the kidneys and liver are functioning properly) and the super pooping phase (or lack of poop phase) doesn’t persist for too long, don’t worry too much. If you can’t help worrying, just pick up the phone and call the pediatrician for that extra dose of reassurance you know you’re coveting.

How often is a newborn supposed to pee?

Your little love bug will probably only pee once within the first 24 hours of its life. But don’t worry! You’ll have plenty of opportunities to change multiple diapers a day in the forthcoming months. Over the first week of your baby’s life, expect approximately one more wet diaper each consecutive day. By the end of week one, you’ll most likely see 6 to 8 wet diapers per day. If you’re getting annoyed by the frequency with which your baby burns through their disposable underpants (unless you’re one of those Earth mamas using cloth diapers), just think about how each pee is a sign that your baby’s internal organs are functioning properly. Yay!

If a baby’s poop is supposed to be liquidy, how do you know if it has diarrhea?

This is a VERY good question. Newborn poop typically looks like diarrhea, so how are you supposed to know if your baby is suffering from diarrhea? I asked my pediatrician this question and he said that if your baby has diarrhea, there will be a crazy amount of the liquidy poop. Like, WAY more than usual. So if your baby’s doing way more liquidy poops than they typically do in any given day, it could be a symptom of illness. Be sure to check in with your doctor if you suspect there’s a problem.

How long will it take for me to lose the baby weight?

There’s no way to answer this question, really, because it depends on so many factors that vary from mama to mama, such as your pre-pregnancy weight, how active you were before and during pregnancy, and, of course, your DNA (that genetic material you passed onto your baby!). The important thing to remember is that it took about 40 weeks for you to build your baby, so you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to lose the pregnancy weight within a certain amount of time. Give your body some slack, yo. Let it do it’s thing without stressing out too much because GUESS WHAT? Stress is bad for losing weight. Actually. The “stress hormone,” cortisol, will prevent you from losing those stubborn pregnancy pounds. So ~*breathe*~, and give yourself some room to get there, honey.

How long should I wait before going back to the gym?

In the typical case of a natural / vaginal pregnancy that didn’t involve any complications, most doctors recommend waiting roughly six weeks before exercising again. Remember, your body went through some pretty traumatizing shit. It needs a minute to get itself back together, and you need some time to regain your strength.

Is it normal that I can’t control my own bladder after giving birth?

Unfortunately, lack of bladder control post birth is entirely normal. Think about it: You just stretched the muscles down there like crazy to squeeze a melon-sized baby out of your vagina, which, until now, was only ever stretched enough to fit a penis or a giant dildo inside it (or whatever else you’re into). Your bladder was right in the middle of things, so it needs some time to regroup. It’s going to take a few weeks or even months before your muscles tighten back up, so be patient. For now, just remember to escort yourself to the bathroom a reasonable amount of time after chugging water. Eventually, your body will go back to providing you with that crucial “time to pee” cue that prevents you from wetting your pants regularly. In the meantime, don’t shy away from wearing a pantyliner.

How long should it take me to regain control of my bladder after giving birth?

It all depends on your personal ~*birth story*~, and your body. It could be a few weeks, or a few months. Or never. Some women still pee a little every time they sneeze years after giving birth. The best way to ensure that your muscles tighten back up so that you regain bladder control is to do Kegel exercises daily. Luckily, Kegels can be done just about anywhere, so they’re easy to incorporate into your day to day. It’s also kind of fun to tighten and relax your pelvic floor in the middle of a meeting or a lunch date. Think of it as a special secret between you and your vagina.

How many ounces of breast milk is a newborn supposed to eat in one feeding?

While feeding habits vary from baby to baby, a typical newborn starts off consuming two to three ounces in one feeding, and they eat every two to three hours. One month in, the average baby consumes roughly four ounces in one feeding. If your baby’s not a normie in this category, maybe celebrate their difference rather than trying to get them to conform to the aforementioned schedule.

Why do my boobs feel like rocks?

Your breasts will start to get rock hard when their ducts are filled with milk, which can be expelled either through pumping or breastfeeding. Think of your hardening breasts as a custom time-to-feed alarm clock. Your baby has all the power to alleviate the overflow simply by suckling. If your breasts are painful and /or appear to be irritated, it could be a sign of an infection called mastitis, caused by a blockage in the milk ducts. Consult your doctor for an official diagnosis or ctrl-F your way to my responses on all questions regarding “mastitis.”

Is the baby supposed to eat from both breasts every time she feeds, or should I be rotating from one breast to the other for each feeding?

It’s up to you, really, and your baby. Some babies clearly prefer one breast over the other, and will feed mostly from their favored breast. In response to baby’s desires, that breast will end up producing more milk. Other babies will be less picky about the boob from which they feed. Still other babies will change their mind from time to time, favoring one breast and then the other. The good news is, your body knows what to do! Trust in your boobs to produce the right amount of milk for your child. In boobs we trust is your new motto!

Are you supposed to pump both breasts simultaneously?

Yes! It’s not at all self-evident, but pumping is meant to be a dual boob activity. The reason is that pumping one breast tends to trigger the other into milk production mode. Have you noticed how your right nipple tends to lactate while you’re breastfeeding baby with the left breast and vice versa? The same phenomenon is at work when you pump. So if you only hook up one boob to the pump, the other’s going to leak precious drops of boob juice gold anyway. In the name of collecting every precious drop of breast milk, hook up both boobs at once!

When should I start pumping?

Many doctors advise establishing a breastfeeding routine, which generally takes at least a few weeks, prior to introducing the pump to your already overstretched nipples. If you plan to pump from the office, many a lactation consultant will tell you it’s a good idea to begin pumping about a month or so before you return to work so you can get accustomed to the practice. For some women, however, waiting isn’t an option. If you’re intent on feeding your baby breast milk but your baby isn’t latching properly, or a medical issue prevents you from nursing, you may have to start pumping immediately. There’s really no “right” approach to pumping, so figure out what works for you if pumping is something you even plan to do!

When is the best time of day to pump?

Never! Because PUMPING SUCKS! Kidding! Kind of. Pumping is a good thing to do if you can’t be around your baby all the time but you want to keep up your milk supply. It’s also a great way to build up a stockpile of frozen breast milk so you can continue feeding your infant the stuff after weaning and/or enjoy a night out with your baby daddy without worrying about what your kid will eat while you’re not physically present to let them suckle on your nipples. For many women, milk production is at its highest during the morning hours, so if you’re going to squeeze a pumping session into your day, try to do it an hour or so after your morning feeding. But if you’re someone who seems to make more milk come nightfall, pump then. You are your own best breast whisperer, so listen to your body, particularly your mammary glands.

Is it okay to give my newborn formula in addition to breast milk?

Breast Is Best enthusiasts might SCREAM at the thought, but guess what? How you nourish your baby is entirely up to you. FED IS BEST!!! If you fear you’re not producing enough milk and/or breastfeeding just isn’t working out how you hoped it would, there’s no harm in leaning on an alternate food source. The important thing is that you stay calm and do what you must to enjoy being a mother as much as possible. Don’t let the societal pressure to breastfeed exclusively prevent you from figuring out what’s best for you and your child.

Are bowlegs normal for newborns?

Yup! Turns out newborns are pretty much all bowlegged. Weird? Not really, if you stop and think about how they’re positioned in the womb. There are different degrees of bowleggedness, of course, so if you’re concerned about your child in a young Forest Gump kinda way, just alert your pediatrician and they’ll monitor your baby’s leg development. Seriously, though, don’t fret too much over those bowlegs as they’re likely to subside as the baby ages. By age three, most kids’ legs straighten out entirely.

How long will it take for the umbilical cord stump to fall off?

Typically, the umbilical cord stump falls off at around two weeks of age. At that point, you’re free to give your baby his or her first bath. While the stump is still intact, please don’t touch it!!!! And try to be sure that your baby’s clothing doesn’t rub up against it too much as the stump could get infected. I don’t care if you’re one of those people who can’t help picking at a scab—your baby’s umbilical cord stump is NOT to be messed with. Let that little piece of flesh rot and detach all on its own. Let it sit there peacefully until it’s good and ready to fall right off. And maybe don’t be one of those people who saves the stump because it’s literally a piece of gangrenous flesh. Ew.

Is it true that a newborn can menstruate a little from ingesting her mother’s hormones?

Yes! It’s true! Kinda weird or kinda cool, depending on how you look at women’s menstrual cycles in general. Anyhoops, the fact is that a female infant might very well bleed a little from her vagina at two or three days old as a result of withdrawal from hormones she was exposed to in the womb. If your baby girl menstruates during her first week of life, thankfully for her, it’ll probably be the last time she does for about another decade.

Is it true that a newborn can develop tiny breasts as a result of consuming maternal hormones?

Did your pediatrician mention that your baby girl might develop teeny tiny breasts of her own right after birth? They weren’t lying! It’s true! For the same reason that your baby girl might actually menstruate a little immediately after entering the world via vaginal canal (see above), the girl might grow little boobies, too. Crazy, right? But also cool.

What are the little white dots on my baby’s face?

Newborn skin is super fresh and sensitive because, well, it’s brand spankin’ new! Babies are prone to developing lots of different rashes in their first few months of life. Luckily, most of them are totally harmless and will disappear all on their own. The tiny little white dots on your baby’s face are an example of a totally harmless skin condition with a special name: milia. The cause? Just some blocked oil glands. It’ll take a few weeks, but eventually those ducts will get bigger and open up, and those irksome little bumps will disappear. Whatever you do, don’t try to pop them or pinch them. Leave your baby’s face alone!

How much milk should I be able to pump from a breast in one sitting?

The important thing about pumping, especially in the early weeks, is not to freak out over how much milk you are or aren’t producing. Don’t call up your mommy friends and ask them how many ounces of milk they produced during each pumping session because you’ll end up with a slew of different answers, none of which apply to you necessarily and all of which stand to make you feel bad about yourself for no good reason at all. Pumping is not a comparathon so don’t make it one. If breastfeeding is going well for you and your baby (if it isn’t, don’t feel bad about it!), your body will adjust to produce as much milk as your baby needs. That amount should increase, naturally, after the first few weeks of your baby’s life. If your baby is gaining weight at a pace that pleases your pediatrician, you’re doing just fine. So don’t fixate on numbers, or ounces-per-session. Trust your instincts and your body’s ability to give your baby exactly what he or she needs.

Is it possible to die from exhaustion?

Allegedly, it is possible to die from lack of sleep. There’s a reason why keeping people awake for extended periods is an actual torture tactic. As any new parent can attest, being sleep deprived sucks butt! It can also be quite dangerous. You don’t want to let yourself get to the point that you’re so tired you might do something dumb like drop the baby or roll over them in bed. It’s up to you to recognize that you’re tired AF and to do something about it, like call on a friend or relative to help you out for a few hours so you can take a nap.

At what point will my baby start sleeping through the night?

Every baby is different, so there’s no official answer to this question. Some parents are lucky to have infants who sleep through the night around 6 to 8 weeks, but others will be waking up with their baby every few hours up until 6 to 9 months. Another thing to note is that some babies will sleep through the night but then regress to not sleeping through the night at certain points. And then there’s always the chance that your baby gets sick, or starts teething, which might interrupt their established sleep patterns. You really can’t predict whether you’ll birth a “good sleeper” or not, or if and when your baby’s sleep patterns will shift. Basically, now that you’re a mom or dad, you can count on feeling a tinge of nervousness every single night when you put your baby down. It’s kind of like the feeling you used to experience at the blackjack table right as the dealer flipped a card over, except that you stand to win zero dollars.

How old does a baby have to be before you start sleep training?

Oh boy. This is one of those topics that inspires serious ire amongst “experts” and their diehard followers, all of whom stand staunchly by their differing opinions on the matter. Some think it’s cruel to sleep train an infant, while others will tell you it’s beneficial to both baby (who needs adequate sleep for critical brain development) and the family overall (which needs its sleep as well). Some mothers cannot bear to let their child cry without interfering to soothe them, while others insist that encouraging a child to self soothe is a critical skill that will serve them well throughout life. In her book, Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman notes that most French babies seem to sleep through the night starting at 8 weeks, not because French babies are genetically predisposed to sleeping more soundly, but because French parents seem dedicated to facilitating good sleep habits early on. According to Druckerman, they do this partly by pausing slightly before addressing their infants’ cries from day one, a subtle but impactful move that lets a baby know their cries will not always be answered immediately and gradually teaches self-soothing. In the end, you have to make a choice that works best for your family, whatever that may be. Here’s an article listing the various techniques for sleep training.

How long will it be before I can poop like a normal human again after giving birth?

It’s a legit struggle to poo postpartum, which is SUPER annoying, right? Difficulty pooping is the last thing a new mom wants to deal with. But if you think about what your body just went through, it makes total sense that it would be tough to poop. Your stomach muscles, which help push that fecal matter through your bowels, have been stretched and weakened like crazy throughout the 40 or so weeks you were pregnant. Plus, a lot of women need stitches after a vaginal delivery and still others develop hemorrhoids or constipation. All of these factors conspire to making pooping a bit of a problem after giving birth. Here’s the good news: Pooping will go back to being mostly a joy that brings you abdominal relief more than anything else. You just need to be patient for the first few weeks after delivery. Gradually, your sphincter muscles will regain strength and you won’t have to wince as much while squeezing the stinky stuff out of your butthole.

How long will it take my vagina stitches to dissolve?

Typically, it takes about two to three weeks for perineal tearing to heal after birth. The vagina stitches you got will actually dissolve on their own so don’t think too much about them. When you go in for your first postpartum checkup at around four to six weeks after delivery, your obstetrician will assess the situation down there, and, mostly likely, give you the thumbs up to start humping again. If you’re feeling any postpartum pain in the perineum, just be sure to mention it to the doc, okay?

How long before I can have sex again after birth?

Most healthcare providers recommend waiting four to six weeks after delivery before having sex. Sound like a long-ass time? Maybe, but not in the grand scheme of things. You need to give your body time to recuperate—for the cervix to close, your perineum to heal, and your muscles to strengthen. If your partner’s getting antsy about reinvigorating your sex life, tell them to CHILL THE FUCK OUT. You might just want to wait another four to six weeks after getting the official okay to boink, and guess what? That’s okay! Your significant other can wait. You’ve done enough of the work over the last year, so the least they can do is be patient!

Does breastfeeding impact a woman’s sex drive?

Breastfeeding is a whole THING. I mean, first off, it’s hard work. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you’re tethered to your baby (or a pump) pretty much constantly. It’s no wonder that feeding your baby a boob-juice-only diet would impact your mind and body in various ways. According to Susan Kellogg Spadt, PhD, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology from Drexel University, “It is fairly common for breastfeeding women to experience a waning of desire, even months after delivery.” In addition to the fact that most new moms are capital “T” Tired, a lack of sex drive in breastfeeding women is partly caused by hormonal shifts. Estrogen (linked to vaginal moistness and flexibility), is lower in breastfeeding women. As is testosterone, which is tied to libido strength. Meanwhile, levels of prolactin (tied to lower sexual desire) are higher in breastfeeding women. Then there’s the issue of “intimate touch.” Some assert that the process of breastfeeding satisfies a woman’s need for human contact, so they’re less likely to look to their partners for touch. Overall, it’s absolutely within the realm of normal not to want to bone while you’re still breastfeeding, even months after birth. Your sex drive will return, but probably not until after your child is weaned from the breast.

How many additional calories should I consume while breastfeeding?

Most experty types seem to agree that a breastfeeding woman needs about 500 additional calories per day to maintain her milk supply. But that doesn’t mean that you should down a donut a day rather than making healthy choices. Not all calories are created equal, so think more apples, less waffles. For reference on quantities, here’s a helpful article that’ll give you a sense as to what, exactly, 500 calories looks like in different foods. On a side note, definitely don’t try to diet while you’re breastfeeding because cutting too many calories will decrease your milk supply, rendering you relatively useless as a human cow.

Does what I eat affect my breast milk?

According to Kelly Bonyata, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, what a woman eats while breastfeeding is more critical to her own health than her baby’s. Bonyata says exactly what breastfeeding moms everywhere have been waiting to hear: “Guess what? You can drink caffeinated beverages (in moderation), have an occasional drink, eat what you want and still provide your baby with the absolute best nutrition and immunological protection – mother’s own milk.” Cheers to Mother Nature, who designed the female body to provide her babies with all the nutrition they need through her milk, even in times of hardship or famine.

How many times do you pump in one day at work?

If you’re a working mom in the good ol’ US of A, chances are you’re returning to work when your infant is six months old or younger. At that stage, if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to express milk about every three hours. So if you work an 8 hour day and commute an hour each way, that means you’ll have to pump about three times a day. Don’t worry too much about setting a time because your breasts will harden when your milk ducts are ready to be depleted. As soon as you start to feel that discomfort, escort yourself to the lactation room and do your thing. Here’s a helpful article listing pumping strategies for working mamas.

Are breast pump parts dishwasher safe?

Many new pumps come with parts that are indeed dishwasher safe. Yay! Otherwise, getting in the nooks and crannies of all those parts would require a serious amount of attention (and Q-tips). To be absolutely sure, of course, re-Google this question with the brand name of your particular pump. If you’re concerned about how to keep your pump clean in general, here’s what the Federal Food and Drug Administration has to say about it.

What is cluster feeding?

You’ve literally just settled into some semblance of a routine—feeding your child every two to three hours or so—when your baby starts to demand food hourly or MORE. Cluster feeding is the phenomenon whereby your baby suddenly seems hungry way more frequently than usual within a certain timeframe. It can persist for a couple days and then subside altogether, or happen at the same time of day for several days on end before things revert to normal. How do you know it’s happening? Because your baby is fussy and or cries more than usual, the one and only effective means of communication upon which they can rely.  Some believe that cluster feeding occurs in conjunction with growth spurts. Simply put, the baby’s hungrier because they’re temporarily growing at an increased rate. Typically, cluster feeding episodes tend to abate by four months of age.

How do I know if my baby is having a growth spurt?

Somewhat hilariously, the symptoms of an infant growth spurt can vary widely. And by “vary widely” I mean “be opposite things.” Your baby might sleep like a log for extended periods of time while growing precipitously, OR they might sleep much less. As if things weren’t difficult enough already! Other symptoms of a baby growth spurt include crying more frequently (sigh), fussing more often (sigh again), or acting clingier. Effectively, it’s super hard to pinpoint whether your baby is going through a growth spurt. But as long as you’re tending to their changing needs the best you can, you’re doing your job, mama.

How old does a baby have to be to eat solid foods?

According to the Mayo Clinic, by age four to six months, your baby will be ready for some solid food. And guess what? Your baby will actually signal that they’re ready to tackle something other than breast milk or formula. Pretty cool, right? Those signs include: holding their head up steadily, sitting up with support, mouthing their hands and/or toys, and seeming super interested in whatever you’re eating. Look out for the cues, and follow your baby’s lead.

What kind of solid food does a baby eat to start?

Imagine you had no teeth and had never eaten food—ever. You’d need something simple to start, right? That’s exactly how it works for your toothless little child. Beginning at about four to six months, your baby might be ready for solid food. If you suspect that they’ve reached this point, just double check with your pediatrician. And plan on starting simple. Offer your little one single-ingredient foods without any salt or sugar. After introducing a new food, wait three to five days to introduce another. That way, if your baby has an adverse reaction to a certain food, you can pinpoint the culprit and eliminate it from their diet. Iron and zinc, (found in pureed meats, single-grain, iron-fortified cereals, beans, and lentils) are super important nutrients for your baby during the second half of year one, so keep that in mind when selecting the foods you intro. Gradually, offer your baby mashed up vegetables and then fruits, continuing to wait three to five days in between each new food.

How old is a baby when it starts teething?

Teething can start anywhere between 3 months and 12 months, and there’s no magical sign (surprise, surprise) that will tell you it’s happening for sure. Some babies will actually demonstrate zero signs of irritability, while others will become incredibly fussy while their chompers are finally pushing through. The crankiness is due to soreness in the gums starting a few days before a tooth finally pokes through. It takes about three years for all 20 primary teeth to emerge, so that means you’ll be dealing with teething as a parent for quite some time.

When do babies start to crawl?

Crawling is a major milestone—for babies, but maybe more so for the parents who can no longer count on their child remaining stationary. Generally speaking, most kids begin to crawl around 7 to 10 months. But they might be in motion long before they’re actually crawling. You can expect some shuffling around on the bum and other attempts at motion as early as six months. So don’t get too comfy leaving baby on his or her play mat for extended periods of time. Those golden days of not really paying attention will soon be long gone! But remember, you signed up for this shit, so you might as well embrace it!

When do babies start to smile and laugh?

In the first few weeks of life, you might think your baby is smiling at you, but it’s really just a reflex. (Maybe it’s better you don’t know that. It’s kind of nice believing that your infant is already super grateful for all you’re doing to keep them alive.) Alas, infants are incapable of demonstrating their appreciation of all your hard work for quite some time. The first true smile, which will melt even the coldest heart, generally happens somewhere between six weeks and three months. Luckily, the real deal is worth the wait! Finally, a reward for all of those diapers you’ve been dutifully changing and all of those crying fits you’ve been stifling in between reassessing your decision to parent in the first place.

When do babies start talking?

You might THINK your baby’s speaking well before they actually are. It’s tempting to hang onto a few syllables within the string of weird sounds your baby starts making as early as three months old—to find the “ma” or “pa” or “yes” or “no” hidden within a slew of gobbley-gook that means absolutely nothing. But it usually takes at least six months for a baby to formulate an actual word. And if you’re into communicating in full sentences, you’ll probably have to wait until your kid’s between 1.5 and 2 years old for them to string some words into fun short sentences like “My pee stinks!” and “That’s MY toy!!!”

When do babies start walking?

On average, babies start walking somewhere between 9 months and 1 year. If your baby seems to be more of the sedentary type, however, that’s okay! It doesn’t mean they’re lazy. They might just feel like making mom and dad wait to snap an Insta story of this all-important milestone. Some kids don’t embrace the biped life fully until 16 or 17 months of age. True story. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I adore the following, in no particular order: knee-high tube socks, acrostic poetry, and my little brother. Click here to learn more!

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