“Call your doctor if you have blood clots the size of golf balls” means that up-to-golf-ball size blood clots are not uncommon postpartum. You shouldn’t be passing any clots much larger than a quarter after you check out of the hospital, though, and call your doctor or midwife if you do. (see this article for other reasons to call a doctor postpartum)
Your newborn will have cartoonishly large, red genitals, and baby girls sometimes drip a little fluid from their nipples and even sometimes get a small spot of blood in their diaper like a teeny period. This is from the huge surge of your hormones that the baby gets during labor and birth. All will go back to normal in a few hours.
Your baby’s first poop is a horrible-looking thing, and the umbilical cord’s kind of gross too. The cord will fall off on its own, but until it does it’s normal for it to be shriveled, black and a little smelly (though not infected– let you pediatrician know if there’s bleeding or pus around the stump).
Crying babies will make your milk eject. Once your milk comes in a few days after birth, hearing a crying baby– any baby, even one on TV– will make your nipples gush milk. You’ll want to line your bra with breast pads or cut-up maxi pads. Orgasms may also make you squirt milk.
Crying babies will also make your uterus constrict, which will mean gushing blood in the first few weeks postpartum. If you’ve just given birth you’re also not supposed to use tampons– so get yourself some real quality maxi-pads for leaving the house (and don’t wear white).
You will resent your partner. When you’re the one who’s given birth, is feeding the baby with your own body and soaking maxi pads, throw in some massive hormonal crashes and rushes and some post-traumatic stress from birth, and it’s pretty common to feel that nothing your partner does is enough. Try to be nice. He’s also gone through a huge life-changing event. He may have seen some things you didn’t. He also probably hasn’t slept in days. Of course it was a bigger event for you, of course you’ve been through worse and you have slept even less, but the fact is, no help will be enough to make the first weeks easy on you. Having your mom, a postpartum helper or close friend there also to help cook meals, do laundry and clean can make a huge difference. Once you’re out of the woods in a few months, you’ll probably like him a lot more.
Breastfeeding hurts, sometimes a lot. The first few days, before your breastmilk-production really kicks in, starting to breastfeed can hurt. Like seeing stars, biting-a-washcloth painful. Having a c-section can make it even worse, because the medications and shock of surgery can delay milk production, meaning a extra hours or a day or so of not making much milk while your baby sucks intensely. Sometimes the pain is from a bad latch, but even experienced moms with latches perfected by certified consultants report experiencing three or four days of pain. Then, once feeding is established, you will barely feel nursing at all– if you can stick with it, in a month or two you may be able to breastfeed literally in your sleep.
You will have visions of horrible things happening to your baby. Ask any mom and you’ll see– after birth it’s very common to have flashes and/or nightmares of horrible things happening to your baby. One mom told us she was frightened as she sat by a fire with her baby, then suddenly a thought popped into her head of throwing the baby into the fire. She’d planned for, wanted and adored her baby, had no urge to hurt him and was scared and confused as to why that thought jumped into her mind. Other moms have report similar things– seeing a truck, then suddenly imagining the baby under the wheels, or seeing a dog and suddenly imagining it mauling the baby. Nightmares about leaving the baby on a bus or looking for the baby to find it’s gone are also common. None of this means you don’t really want your baby or secretly want to cause harm, but actually the opposite– the human mind is always scouting out dangers and running through scenarios of terrible things that could happen, even when you’re not fully conscious of it. You may also find that having someone walk between you and the baby makes you tense up.
Sometimes love will feel like work. You may have moments of deep and profound soul-searing love for your baby, but also times when you don’t feel like getting up and soothing, feeding and changing that diaper. Sometimes the baby will seem like a little alien and you may feel like you’ve made a huge mistake or you can barely handle mothering. But showing up and doing the job is love, too– don’t think you’re not a good mother if you don’t feel romantic, cheery love all the time.