The birth of your baby is an exciting time in your life. Before your baby arrives you may think to yourself how your life after baby comes, will be wonderful. You may think it’s going to be magic rainbows, lollipops, and sparkly unicorn poop, I’m sorry it’s not. Don’t get me wrong there will be more happy moments then sad. Life as a new mom is hard, sometimes sleepless, selfless work. Motherhood is a job that takes its toll on all of your body. After your baby arrives it may take time for you to get back to feeling like yourself. The media makes life after baby magical and it can be, just not all the time.
Physical recovery after birth is hard on a body. You may expect to bounce back to your pre-pregnancy weight after birth and for most women thats not the case. Every body and every pregnancy is different. Take it easy on your body. Getting back into an exercise routine too early can make your recovery take longer. Before baby if you were working out regularly you may bounce back quick or it may take time. It’s important to remember the weight you gained in pregnancy took min moths to put on, it may take you nine months to loose it. If you had a vaginal birth you are going to be sore, like really sore. Pushing a baby out uses all of your vaginal muscles, which is hard work, so you will likely be swollen. If you are brave enough to look in a mirror at your freshly birthed a baby vagina remember it will go back to normal. The ice pack pads, witch hazel pads and the perineal irrigation bottle will be your vagina’s best friend for a little while. When you birth by cesarean your body not only heals from the incision site but also your uterus. Abdominal muscles were cut open to help deliver your baby. These muscles will hurt, so the Dr will prescribe pain medication which can make you constipated and have hemorrhoids. Your uterus will need to be massaged no matter how you birthed your baby. This process will be painful, it feels like contractions. Another way your uterus shrinks back to its normal size is through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which can cause uterine contractions and lochia. Lochia or postpartum bleeding will happen for a few weeks after birth, yes even If you had a cesarean. For some women breastfeeding comes natural in the beginning and others have to work hard to keep up. Breastfeeding can cause sore cracked nipples, this can be due to positioning or latch. Every one will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, they are right and they are wrong. You can try to sleep when the baby sleeps but then your less likely to get a shower in, eat or use the restroom. This is when good postpartum support comes in to save the day.
The process of birth brings on many emotions. The media has left this stipulation on birth that you should be happy and glowing with a happy baby in your arms. This does happen on occasion, but most of the time you are mentally and physically exhausted. There is a chance you could feel overwhelmed. The needs of your baby are coming before your partner, your household, and your own needs. Anxiety can creep in and think to your self “Am I enough, can I do this?!”. For the first couple weeks you may cry, feel sad or irritable for no reason, this is called the baby blues. Baby blues can last about two weeks. If you are feeling depressed and/or your baby blues last more than a couple weeks ask your Dr or postpartum doula for help. You may have postpartum depression. Medication is not always the answer to this mental illness, support groups and counseling can help a lot. Your emotions can take over your mind if you let them. You may feel guilty if you take time for yourself. Please try not to feel guilty for taking time to care for yourself. I believe taking care of yourself the hardest and most important part of your postpartum life. About six weeks after you have a baby your partner may want to have sex. For most women they don’t even want to be touched, let alone have sex. This pressure from your partner can put a strain on your relationship. Try to remember your relationship came before your baby. If you make time for just the two of you your relationship will become stronger than ever.
The first hour of life is important for bonding between the baby and its family. Skin to skin during this first hour helps the baby regulate it’s temperature and helps with milk production. Bonding with your baby is physical and emotional. Im sure you imagine the moment you meet your little bundle of joy like a scene from a movie. A happy mom, a smiling dad and a cooing baby swaddled and looking up at its parents. This can happen, but most of the time mom has a look of relief on her face. Relief that the baby is out labor is done, I can sleep and I can eat but mostly sleep. If you don’t get to bond right away its ok. Bonding is not about the quantity it is about the quality. The reality of bonding after your baby is born, your hair is a mess, you can’t remember if you brushed your teeth, and your baby is just staring up at you like you rule the world and you are an amazing mom! Whether this is your first baby or your fifth baby you will learn baby love is real. Bonding can look different for every parent and even different from the first baby to the next baby. Remember if you are feeling down to talk to someone about it.
Feeding your baby can be stressful. It can take a toll on your emotions and on your personal life.Before your baby is born you may expect your baby to eat, sleep, poop, pee, and be happy. In reality breastfeeding is hard, tiring, and can hurt. In the early days and months your baby and you are getting to know each other and learning how to breastfeed together. Take time helping your new nursling learn to properly latch. Try not to get frustrated. Ask for help from your postpartum doula or a lactation consultant if you are having any problems. When your milk first comes in your breast will feel full and heavy, nursing should relieve the pain. If they feel like you might have rocks are on your chest you may be engorged. If you cant get baby to latch on right away try hand expressing some milk either into a bottle or onto a spoon to feed to baby later, then try getting baby to latch on again. Some mothers find after trying to breastfeed they are unsuccessful and thats ok! You can try pumping to express milk if you cant not get baby to latch. A fed baby is a happy baby. Remember how you feed your baby isn’t important, you are caring for your baby and don’t let the people who say other wise affect you. Also try not let unsuccessful breastfeeding get to you. If you are feeling down about it try talking to someone like a postpartum doula, a counselor or a friend.
When you have a baby you will need time to recover, heal and bond with your baby. Time to rediscover your self, and create a new normal. This time requires support. Many moms expect family and friends to come over and help with what ever you might need. Unfortunately most family and friends only come to see the baby. Before baby is born you can make a post part plan. A postpartum plan can help you organize the chores and other house hold items you can have people help you with when they come over. I’ve had moms post a note on the door asking people to run a load of laundry, hold the baby so mom can shower or eat, or bring food for the family. All of these things are so helpful to a family when a new member is born. A postpartum doula is an awesome support person. Postpartum doula’s help with light household chores, make sure you get a meal and a nap, help with feeding issues and much more.
Life with a new baby can be wonderful, terrifying, tiring, sleepless and beautiful. Remember there will be a time when all of the scary things I just told you will fade away. You will feel like you again, you might even feel like new you. Take time for yourself even if its just a few short minutes. Enjoy those sweet newborn moments where your baby is content and starring at his or her beautiful mom. You are enough, you are a strong capable mother!
If you are interested in learning how to prepare for postpartum life please contact The Nurturing Doula, LLC for information on a personalized Childbirth Education class that includes preparing for postpartum life.