The beautiful, the brutal and the downright ugly. 

Let me preface this by saying I am but a humble mother of one and that until I miraculously birthed a tiny boy, I was in blissful ignorance about the realities of new motherhood. 

Sure, as a dietitian by profession, I knew about the nutritional requirements of a breastfeeding mum, but only now having experienced that insatiable omnipresent hunger do I really know, you know?  

The rude shock of childbirth and its groundswell of hormones and emotions, instantaneously gave way to the even ruder one of being charged with the round-the-clock task of keeping a human baby alive.

In the 30 days after birth, I found my baby spew-splattered sleep-deprived self asking on repeat, why no-one ever told me these things about new motherhood. So here, I pay it forward – the BS-free reality of that first month, in my experience. 

1. Your world will become smaller – existing between the couch, toilet and fridge mainly – but all the richer for it. 

2. You will never fear a bowel movement more than that post-birth poo required for you to leave hospital. Black will also be your only colour choice for undies for the foreseeable. 

3. The guests that bring food and put their cup and plate in the dishwasher before leaving are the most welcome. The others? I’ll bite my tongue. 

4. You will discover strengths you didn’t know you had and fears you never knew existed. 

5. Your newborn will sleep through car horns and fire alarms, but have an uncanny knack for opening their eyes the minute you close yours to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. 

6. You will compare. And it will suck. Your sleep. Your baby. Your post-birth body. 

Your hair will also never be greasier, and you won’t care. Image: Lyndi Cohen.

7. On that, you will realise there’s no such thing as one post-baby body. Already I’ve had several. There’s the deflated stomach, the engorged boobs, the leaking, the hair loss, the body I’m learning to be proud of. 

8. You will need an engineering degree to master the muslin cloth breastfeeding privacy screen – and eventually give up. 

9. You will ask why it’s called witching hour when it lasts way longer than 60 minutes.

10. You thought a hangover made you thirsty, until you experienced the Sahara desert equivalent to breastfeeding thirst. 

11. You’ll realise the tiniest bodies can make the most profound imprint on your heart. 

12. You won’t want to sleep like a baby, but rather, like your husband. 

13. Whatever your expectation of motherhood, you will have to adjust to the actual experience – and you’ll ‘should’ yourself on repeat. 

You will sniff their head (and bum) more times than you can count. Image: Lyndi Cohen

14. You will wonder why everyone focuses so much on the birth, when there’s no epidural for the relentlessness of motherhood. 

15. The only other thing as unrelenting is your breastfeeding appetite. You will be ravenous. You will need to honour your hunger and eat intuitively when you can and not by the clock. 

16. You will smell another human’s bum repetitively throughout the day without even blinking. 

17. Your bladder will take on superhuman qualities, especially when stuck under a sleeping baby. 

18. Your camera roll content will change overnight, from the odd selfie or food photo to scrolls and scrolls of baby spam, which you’ll look at the minute your baby is asleep. 

19. You will sometimes feel like you’re now only the purveyor of the child, overlooked and undervalued. 

20. You will learn the hard way never to make eye contact with a baby on the verge of sleep. 

21. You will genuinely feel that having a shower and brushing your hair is worthy of an OAM. 

22. If you’re breastfeeding, when the cluster feeding hits, you’ll question if your baby is broken and what’s wrong with you.  

23. You will catastrophise, have scary thoughts and serious new parent anxiety. This is normal. 

You will try to juggle your old and new life, with varying success. Image: Lyndi Cohen

24. You will lose interest in food. The $26 poke bowl delicately eaten with chopsticks will be happily replaced by peanut butter toast you ram into your mouth with one hand. Extra points if it’s wholegrain. 

25. You will pine for your pre-baby body. You’ll look back at old photos and wonder why you hated your ‘old’ body so much. This will teach you to appreciate this current, new body you have. It’s no ornament – it grew your baby after all. 

26. You will be in recovery, even though it’s tough to give yourself permission for this. Whether it’s your vagina or stomach, more often than not there’s a cut somewhere. 

27. You will say the phrase “lucky they’re cute” on repeat.

28. You will appreciate your parents and all they did for you, especially your mother. If your loved one is gone, you will miss them terribly and yearn for them to have met your baby, their grandchild. 

29. You will feel crappy for not replying to people’s well-meant texts, adding them to your mental load. Ugh. 

30. You will feel fragile yet never more certain about some things. Listen to your instincts. You’ve got this.

This story was first published on kidspot.com.au and is republished here with permission.