The newborn phase is a wonderful time of life, but it helps to be prepared by knowing what to expect, good and bad!
The postpartum period can make a new mom feel happy, exhausted, overwhelmed, grateful, frustrated, and back to happy again, sometimes all within an hour! It’s an emotional rollercoaster, one for which many women are completely unprepared. Despite what anyone else goes through or tells you, it can be a wonderful, joyful period of life…if you know what to expect!
In all honesty, the 4th trimester with my first two kids was pretty rough. Both births weren’t what I’d expected and everything was all still so new to me, that I’ll admit I certainly didn’t enjoy it very much.
Fast forward 6 more kids and if there’s one thing I’ve learned after all these births, it’s how to love the newborn phase. It’s not that it’s become all that much easier (although my body has become more efficient at some things) but rather that I know what’s coming and I’m prepared for it. Once the fear and anxiety factors are gone, it becomes so much more enjoyable!
Without further adieu, here’s my list of 5 things no one adequately prepares you to experience during the postpartum period:
1.There will be bleeding, and lots of it. Think the worst day of your period, every day for a week and sometimes longer. I bled for less than two weeks with my easiest recovery and for close to 6 weeks after my c-section. It totally varies, but just know that it will happen and it will be a LOT! A good excuse to take it really easy those first few weeks and rest with the babe.
2. You’ll have random aches and pains that you’ve never had before: really tender nipples, aching uterus, sore girly parts, and sometimes more! I knew I would be sore, but my biggest surprise after my first birth was how bad the “afterbirth” pains would be (think intense period cramps). Your uterus continues to contract for days after birth, especially while breastfeeding and even after a c-section, and while it’s necessary to stop the bleeding and get your uterus back to normal, it’s not always a walk in the park! You doctor can suggest something to take if the pain gets to be too much.
3.You’ll ride a rollercoaster of emotions and will probably feel a little depressed for a few days. I have experienced “baby blues” after every single pregnancy; usually after about day 2 or 3 when the initial wave of visitors is over, I get kind of overwhelmed with a new baby and a transitional body and start feeling really lonely. After the first 3 births it kind of threw me for a loop, but now I expect it, recognize it for what it is and remind myself that it won’t last forever. Invite a friend over, get out of the house if possible (even just for a walk around the block) and you should be back to normal in no time!
(Note: if you’re still feeling depressed after a week or so, are having trouble bonding with your baby or having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, call your doctor right away! Postpartum depression, although not as common, does affect many women and can be treated. Don’t let yourself suffer unnecessarily.)
4. Your baby might have a hard time transitioning to life outside the womb. Some of my kids were great eaters and sleepers right away, and others seemed a little distressed after birth. I think it’s just a harder adjustment for some babies and the best thing for these little munchkins is to be in their mama’s arms. Being held skin to skin is especially beneficial for a baby in distress, and I love using the Nesting Days baby carrier pictured here. It’s like a wrap carrier (without all the wrapping) designed to be worn with just a nursing bra, so you and your baby can be skin to skin and you can still use your arms! I wear it around the house just like this, or throw a cardigan over it to go for a walk. I haven’t had a baby yet who didn’t settle right down after being worn up against me.
5. The first few weeks will be over before you know it; let the housework, meals and worry go and just enjoy resting with your new baby. As a certified addict to “getting things done”, resting is a very hard thing for me to do. But after each baby I’ve realized more and more how rare it is to have a few weeks where no one expects anything of us moms; we might as well enjoy it. Don’t leave the house (unless you need it for sanity), don’t make food, don’t clean, don’t go to church; take a cue from your baby and just eat, sleep and poop!
Having a baby is a crazy, amazing and eye-opening experience, but it’s what we women were made to do! Don’t let the unknown scare you; it’s one of the most awesome things your body will ever do for you. If you’re prepared for the not-so-fun stuff, you’ll be able to cuddle and enjoy your baby all the more.
Good luck, mamas!
Photography by Let Me See You Sparkle