Postpartum is a wonderful time! It’s also a time of new adventures and sometimes a few plot twists.
Of course, the best part of postpartum is the time you get to spend holding your beautiful new baby. Sometimes, the time spent in after care can be startling, especially to new mothers, so let’s break down what you might be feeling during this time. Remember though, these are general thoughts and each of us are different. Some women bounce back, seemingly overnight, others take a little or a lot longer.
- It goes without saying, your body is changing…again! Your uterus is shrinking back into place, your other organs have a little more breathing room and it might be that you have a couple of stitches or so to tend to.
- Your vaginal area can be sore and tender, with some bleeding as well, for several days. You may find that the more you exert or over do, the heavier the bleeding. Take it easy during the first few weeks of postpartum.
- Your breasts will be preparing for a nursing baby. When your milk comes in, you will feel pressure and some pain as they become engorged. If you are choosing to bottle feed with formula, there may be a few days of discomfort while your milk dries up. Whether you nurse or pump, be prepared for some nipple tenderness as they begin to perform this duty of feeding your baby. With proper latching, the pain is short lived and each day, improves a great deal.
- Fatigue is a normal part of postpartum, in part because of the energy it took to develop a baby, the stress of labor and delivery and now, lack of sleep as you get into a new rhythm with your newborn.
- Your hormones are going to be all over the place as they shift back into life without a baby growing inside. This can lead to weepiness, anxiety, depression and an overall feeling of being out of control with your emotions. Along with the difficult feelings, also comes overwhelming joy and wonder. It’s normal to feel everything, even all at once.
- Finding balance can be a tricky thing during this time, especially if you have other children so it isn’t uncommon to feel overwhelmed.
How can you best care for yourself during the postpartum period?
Start with assembling a great team of pediatricians, obstetricians and gynecologists. If necessary get a psychologist or counselor on board as well. Surround yourself with loving and attentive help whenever possible.
Another vital tool to have is communication. As much as we would love for those around us to be mind readers, they aren’t. If you are struggling with feelings of depression, anxiety, overwhelm, or even joy beyond anything you have ever felt before, learn to find the words to express what you are feeling, and what you need. Even if you don’t know what you need in the moment, working together with your partner, you can find the best answers for each situation.
Do not try to be super mom during this time…and by the way, ‘this time’ can last for weeks, to months. Don’t expect that your postpartum recovery will be a quick as your best friend’s or your sister’s. Just let your own story unfold as it may. Each woman is different and comparison will only steal your joy. Remember that it took so much energy to grow and feed this tiny human while it was in your womb, it’s going to take time for your body to recover, even after the general aches and pains subside. When we are tired and weary, our emotional state will be more precarious as well. Get as much sleep as you can. We hear this all the time, but it is true!
Be aware of your emotional well being. Make sure you stay in close contact with your healthcare providers if you are struggling with depression. Postpartum can often bring on serious and life threatening depression. Don’t wait until you are feeling extreme despair. Getting medical care and treatment will be one of the greatest gifts to yourself, and your family.
One of the best habits to adopt during postpartum is that of flexibility. If you are trying to keep everything perfectly scheduled, you will find it’s a lot like trying to steer a river. Right now is the time to roll with it. If sleeping all day, when your baby sleeps and up all night is how things are working out, go with that. It won’t last forever. Eventually, your baby will adjust to life on the ‘outside’ and your once normal life will return.
Postpartum can be a tricky time, but it is also a wonderful time! Spend as much time as you can just resting with that little babe in your arms. Get to know every inch of their sweet little face. These days go so fast! Remember, Madison Women’s Clinic has your back. We are just a phone call way to help you navigate these amazing times!