9 things only women who have gone through childbirth understand

Mesh panties, memory loss, exhaustion and afterbirth pains.

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  • Whether you give birth in a hospital or at a birthing center, with or without an epidural or via cesarean section, going through childbirth admits you into the vast club of women who have the shared experience of going through the worst and best moments of their lives simultaneously. And you suddenly have something in common with every other mom out there: your personal birth story.

  • While every woman's story is different, the following are some things most moms can agree on. Which of the following childbirth experiences do you relate with?

  • 1. Postpartum memory loss is real

  • Something strange happens when that newborn baby is placed on your chest. All the pain and discomfort of the last few hours and months is suddenly wiped from your memory. It doesn't matter that you're tired beyond all belief or partially naked or still in pain - none of what has happened to your body in the last nine months matters anymore because you're holding in your arms the little human that caused it all, and you couldn't be happier.

  • 2. When you're in enough pain, literally nothing can embarrass you

  • It's perfectly natural to feel nervous at the idea of the lack of personal privacy during childbirth. You are, after all, going to have to get undressed in front of any number of nonfamily members at some point in the process. But most women find that when labor pains hit and the chips are down, privacy concerns go out the window. Suddenly, you find yourself making all kinds of inelegant sounds and walking around in various states of undress without caring who sees you. Extreme pain and sheer focus on the monumental task at hand can do that to a person.

  • One mom said of her experience, "Somehow it's not weird to have a million people in your room looking in between your legs. In fact, sometimes you kind of want them to because it means something might finally be happening to get that baby out!"

  • 3. You've never felt so obsessed with the sound of a heartbeat

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  • During those nine long months of pregnancy and then through labor and delivery, no sound is quite as important to a mother as the sound of a strong, healthy heartbeat emanating from the doppler or sensor the doctor places on her stomach. It's the first sound you hear your baby make and its reassuring presence through the months reassures you that everything is going to be OK. You almost miss it after the baby's born in some strange way.

  • 4. Mesh panties never felt so comfortable

  • Following childbirth, it takes some time for your body to rid itself of the excess blood and tissue your uterus developed during pregnancy. Moms everywhere swear by the mesh panties hospitals provide that help hold sanitary napkins in place in the first days and weeks after your baby enters the world. At this point, fashion is the last thing you'll be caring about.

  • 5. It's possible to sleep in any position

  • You've never been as happier or as exhausted as when you're a brand new mom. After the effort of labor and delivery and then keeping up with feeding an infant around the clock, moms often find themselves nodding off at all kinds of surprising moments: in the middle of a conversation, for instance, or while eating dinner or while sitting propped up in a hospital bed with lumpy pillows and all kinds of wires feeding into your arms. None of that matters when you're an exhausted mom who just needs to sleep.

  • 6. Afterbirth pains can feel like labor

  • Unfortunately, labor and delivery doesn't end with the entrance of your baby into the world. Of course, you might not notice delivering the placenta when you've got a beautiful new baby in your arms and the pain of contractions is finally over.

  • Your uterus isn't done with you, though. In the hospital, a nurse comes in every few hours after delivery to massage your uterus to make sure it's shrinking back down, and the faster this happens, the quicker the bleeding stops. It can also feel almost as painful as labor. These afterbirth pains often get worse with each successive pregnancy and are commonly felt during breast-feeding in the first few days following giving birth.

  • 7. You've never felt so happy to hear a baby cry

  • That first wail an infant makes on entering the world is the most beautiful sound its mother has ever heard. Somehow the little cells that began dividing all those months ago have developed into a real, tiny human and that first cry confirms that you and your baby have finally completed your first journey together.

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  • 8. Breastfeeding is no walk in the park

  • For something that is supposed to be one of the most natural processes in the world, breastfeeding isn't as simple as you'd think. First-time moms, in particular, might be surprised by how steep the learning curve is as neither they nor the babies have ever done it before. Suckling is instinctive for babies, but that doesn't mean they know how to nurse efficiently. Luckily, hospitals and birthing centers often have on-site lactation consultants that can help with any questions you may have.

  • 9. Using the bathroom never seemed so scary

  • Following childbirth, many women dread their first few trips to the bathroom, especially following a severe tear or c-section. Luckily, doctors usually try to help make these trips a little less terrifying by prescribing a stool softener to help everything go a little more smoothly.

  • Babies seem to grow faster than ever once they're safely delivered into the world. Before you know it, your baby will be transitioning from stroller to trike and you'll be regaling a new generation of first-time mothers with tales of your birth experiences. The Strolly is the perfect transitional stroller for the active mom and toddler.

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Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.

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