The first few days after you give birth seem like a whirlwind. Diapers are everywhere; the baby seems to feed constantly; everyone is adjusting to this new little life and in there somewhere, is a woman who is going through the most challenging time in her life postpartum.
I must admit that I am not a medical professional by any stretch of the imagination. Anything I post here in the blog is a direct reflection of what my personal experience was. I am just writing in the hope that it may help someone who is going through a similar time.
The first week post delivery are quite surreal in terms of becoming a new mom. But what is more challenging is recovering from the major physical experience that is childbirth. We spend so much time preparing for the delivery that sometimes we forget that there is a time after that. The following is roughly a timeline of how the first week of recovery looks like for a new mom.
DISCLAIMER: Please be warned, some of this may be TOO MUCH INFORMATION, but I wish someone had told me… I would have felt a little more normal than I did at the time. Also keep in mind I had a vaginal birth without any drugs, and everyone is different so your recovery might not mirror mine exactly.
Woohoo! You’ve just given birth! Congratulations! The first day, you will totally be high on endorphins. Although you are exhausted from the physical experience of childbirth, you are elated and most likely not able to sleep. I mean I cannot blame you, look at the little nugget of perfection! Amid the breastfeeding clinics and the visitors, you have already begun to recover.
- During delivery you will have lost a great deal of the weight that you gained.
- You will have delivered your baby, the placenta and all the amniotic fluid. So it’s an instant 17-20lb weight loss right there.
- It is completely normal for you to not be able to stand.
- You will be very sore. *TMI Alert: everything down below will be swollen and puffed up. Do yourself a favour and DON’T LOOK!*
- You will begin to produce colostrum which is a substance that is a thicker and higher calorie which is enough for your baby for the moment. Breastmilk comes in a few days.
- Breastfeeding is challenging. Be kind to yourself. The baby has to work just as hard as you. Be persistent and patient. It is totally worth it when you both begin to work together!
- You will notice that you are experiencing cramps when you breastfeed. This is your uterus decreasing in size.
- Rest, rest, rest… as much as you can, when the baby is sleeping.
Much like the first day, you will be in a daze. I remember I felt like I was going through an out of body experience. The endorphins will begin to recede and you will feel sore when you try to walk. Don’t worry, it will get better.
- Eat well and drink as much water as you can. It makes a world of a difference in your energy.
- You may still not see breast milk coming but you still have to latch your baby and feed her colostrum. This is preparing your body to produce breast milk. the more you feed your baby, the more you will produce.
- Peeing may be very difficult and passing a bowel movement may seem like an impossible act but you have to try.
- You will experience postpartum bleeding – this can feel like a heavy cycle that can last for a month. Stock up on those granny pads – total life savers!
- Try to limit your guests, although this may not be possible, but your really need the rest. In between handling feedings and changing the baby, it will all seem a little overwhelming so rest as much as you can while baby sleeps.
Most hospitals will release you on day three provided that your baby and you are recovering well.
- They want to make sure you are able to latch and feed baby at regular 2 hour intervals. If latching your baby is tricky, please reach out for help if you want to breastfeed your baby moving forward.
- They want to make sure that your uterus is continuing to reduce in size and is doing so in timely fashion.
- They want to make sure you have passed a bowel movement because that is an indication that your system is working fine.
- Your sore body will not hurt as much at this point and walking will be less of a challenge.
- This is about the time I began to produce milk so that was exciting. If you keep feeding baby from your breast, this will happen for you as well.
- The cramps will continue as your uterus continues to get smaller.
When you get home, give yourself time. You are starting a brand new life. Don’t rush to get into a routine right away, but rather focus on spending time with the baby and retaining your energy for night duty. The nurses are not going to be there to wake you up so take good care to eat and rest up as your baby does.
- You will be sore down there still. Try sitz baths. Sitting in a warm salt bath will ease the discomfort and help heal your hurting parts faster.
- Make sure you take your prenatals to ensure your body is taken care of while you begin to produce milk.
- Because of all the breastfeeding that your body is getting used to, your nipples may begin to crack and hurt. I found that using coconut oil helped keep it moisturized. I also used nipple cream. One of my closest friends opened my eyes to Dr. Jack Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment (Ask your Doctor to prescribe this to you as soon as you see that regular Lansinoh nipple cream is just not cutting it.) It saved my life..I mean nipples… it’s practically the same thing!
- At this point, it may make sense to start wearing a post pregnancy support belt. It helps shrink the belly faster and offers support to your insides as all your organs begin to go back to where they lived before your uterus expanded and took over that real estate.
- Your hormones are going crazy. Really. It’s actually nuts. you may feel excited, sad, anxious, happy, overwhelmed all at the same time! This is completely normal. When this happened to me, I actually broke down. I totally lost it. My nipples were cracked, the breasts were engorged, I was so tired, and all the feels came crumbling down around me. I strongly urge you to talk to anyone that you feel safe with. Your partner, best friend, another mother are all there to support you. They know this is a life altering experience for you so they will help you feel more normal. Just remind yourself to be gentle to yourself. It is SO SO important. You have to know that you will be just fine!
Please remember that you are still in recovery. Please make sure your are resting as much as possible and are eating and drinking well. Water is your best friend. Keep taking your prenatals. You are on the road to getting yourself healed. Your baby is now feeding on your milk and waking up every two to three hours to feed. You should see to it that your body and baby are your first priority for the next few weeks till your body heals completely. It is a good idea to pre cook during your pregnancy and have meals that can be heated up during this time. This way you are not spending hours on your feet when you could be resting.
The first week will zoom past you in the blink of an eye and all this will seem like a blip in the grand scheme of things, but while it lasts, make sure you are well prepared and most importantly, kind to yourself. It will make a world of a diffrence!