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Ashley Edwards Walker
Contributing Writer

Mom’s Viral Photo Shows What the Aftermath of Childbirth Really Looks Like

Hint: It involves more than just oohing and aahing over your newborn.
PUBLISHED ON 08/16/2018

When it comes to childbirth, people often like to gloss over the hard stuff and get right to the good: that sweet little newborn. But the truth is, the physical pain and raw emotions don’t necessarily end in the delivery room—a fact Portland mom Autumn Benjamin decided to get very real about in a Facebook post that’s resonating with thousands of women.

Two days after Benjamin gave birth to her daughter Layla, her husband Kevin snapped a picture of her standing in mesh underwear, breastfeeding her baby while eating a hospital meal. It’s a vulnerable moment, and she couldn’t bring herself to share the photo with anyone at first. But she’s decided to use it as an opportunity to shed some light on what she was going through—and what a lot of moms go through—in those early postpartum days.

“I was in new territory,” Benjamin’s caption reads. “No one told me your belly doesn’t go down immediately. No one told me I’d be bleeding out. No one told me that I would spend hours crying and full of emotion. I remember just laying there in the hospital bed crying. I was crying because my baby girl was finally here. FINALLY! But wait…that means she isn’t protected inside of me anymore. And that’s a scary feeling.”

Most moms—new and otherwise—can probably relate to that feeling. There’s a reason motherhood has been described as walking around with your heart outside of your body. That’s just what happens once you welcome your little ones into the world.

In addition to the anxiety and the crying jags, she remembers being in constant pain. “No one tells you that typically with a ‘quick delivery’ comes a bad rip,” she says. “I ripped all the way up and down, and also side to side. The weeks following, I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t use the bathroom. I wore these big depends diapers. I never thought I would be normal again. Kevin had to help me do EVERYTHING from pee, to walk up stairs.”

Every birth is different, but whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section, it can take a toll on your body. And, as Benjamin points out next, the recovery process involves more than just physical pain.

“Being a mom is the ultimate sacrifice,” she writes. “You give up your body for 9 months to grow this little baby. You go through labor and delivery. You go through the emotions that come with childbirth. You let go of all shame as you walk around your house in diapers and ask your SO to spray warm water on your rip while you pee to avoid that burn. You spend tireless hours latching your baby and feeding your baby to establish and keep up your milk supply because you want to breastfeed so. damn. bad. You remain patient through leaps, growth spurts, and cluster feeding.”

Then she makes one more key point.

“But most importantly,” she continues, “moms give up who they were before they were a mother. Most moms give up a lot of their hobbies, dreams, and plans. Moms put their lives on hold so their babies can live out theirs. We deal with so many emotions that we internalize, just so we can be mothers to our babies. Don’t ever discredit a mother. You don’t know the half.”

While not every mom has to give up her plans and pastimes, Benjamin’s post has clearly struck a chord; it’s gotten more than 155,000 likes, 128,000 shares and 22,000 comments.

“Autumn, wonderfully written,” one commenter wrote. “I want to promise you that not all deliveries are the same. Some are better, and some are worse. I had a huge baby boy for my first back when they did episiotomies. It was rough for a few days. I breastfed, too. My second two were much easier. Bless you and hang in there. As you already know, it is so worth it!”

“Brave and beautiful!” added a second. “Trust me, you'll never forget this pain or the beauty of this moment, but you will also never regret it!”

As challenging as that postpartum period can be, having a baby is a wild and wonderful ride. If you ever need a reminder (because we all have those days), read up on these 25 reasons why babies totally rock.

PHOTO: Mark Laudato