If you’re having a baby, you probably know you need diapers.
And you need a stroller, bottles, wipes, blankets, and a whole lot of other stuff. You might have thought about the soap they’ll need in the bath, and the toys they’ll play with, even if a bath and playtime aren’t their primary needs of an infant when they arrive home from the hospital.
But have you thought about what you, the mom, will need? The ice packs to help deal with pain and inflammation from the birth, the sitz bath to help you heal, the clothes that will fit your post-pregnancy body and help you feel like a person again?
Probably not. But a new book written by Destiny’s Child alum Kelly Rowland aims to get those items added to your pre-baby needs checklist.
Rowland’s book, “Whoa, Baby! A Guide For New Moms Who Feel Overwhelmed and Freaked Out (and Wonder What the #*$& Just Happened)” seeks to educate new moms and moms-to-be about the immediate aftermath of pregnancy and how it affects the mom physically, emotionally and physiologically. It’s about caring for yourself, not the baby.
In an interview with USA Today, Rowland revealed her toned tummy was the physical change that most surprised her.”I just saw a cover that I did for Shape and then I’m looking in the mirror going, ‘Oh, my god this is not the same body. How did this happen?’ And, I had to just keep reminding myself that, ‘You had a baby, Kel.’ But I was hard on myself. I really was.”
Rowland, who gave birth to her first child, Titan, in 2014, wrote the book with her obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Tristan Emily Bickman, said she had no idea what was awaiting her in terms of her own needs after she left the hospital.
“I remember looking for a book that told me what was going to happen after, and everything was about the baby,” Rowland said.
Rowland’s 16-year relationship with Bickman made it easy for her to call any time she had a question, no matter how small — or gnarly. And Rowland had questions about everything from the way she was recovering from the vaginal birth to the weird smell of her sweat to constipation to post-birth sex. Everything was different about her body, Rowland said, and because those changes aren’t things addressed in books like “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” she didn’t see them coming.
Bickman answered “every question,” Rowland said. “Big or small.”
And the answers didn’t dance around, even when they addressed some potentially embarrassing subjects, she said. Things like sex after baby — or lack of it — and healing after a vaginal tear.
“Little did I know that my real journey would begin after I left the hospital. Even with my relatively easy labor and delivery, I was still shocked by what happened to my body afterward,” Rowland writes in the book. “The excruciating pain every time I hobbled to the toilet, the HUGE floppy belly, and the days — make that weeks — of bleeding. And I thought pushing [baby] Titan’s head out was going to be the hardest part! In reality, getting the baby out into the world turned out to be just the beginning of a very long journey back to normal.”
Rowland wastes no time getting right into the realities of what happens to a woman’s body when she gives birth. The book reads like a frank conversation with a close friend, but with professional insight from Bickman about how common all these body’s changes are and the reasons behind them.
Rowland describes her own experiences throughout the book and doesn’t mince words when sharing some of the gory details of her post-birth body. Any thoughts of her celebrity or embarrassment had to be set aside, she said, because there’s bloating, bleeding, constipation, hemorrhoids and incontinence to deal with.
“I just felt the need to be completely honest,” Rowland said. “I kept telling myself, don’t think about all that extra stuff. Just be honest.”
After all, discussing the changes a woman’s body undergoes after giving birth shouldn’t be difficult or uncomfortable. A unique version of it happens to every mother, she said. “Your body is made for this. We are built for it.”
And remember, it’s perfectly Okay to accept the kindness of others, to help you on your journey.
“Whatever path you choose, accept whatever help that’s offered you whenever you can: Say yes to home-cooked meals from neighbors, and rides home from school for your older kids, or whatever it is that someone offers you,” Rowland writes in the book. “Whether it’s in the hospital or in bed with your husband or when your in-laws are over for a visit, just say YES.”
Diana Novak Jones is a local freelance writer.