Both you and your newborn will go through a period of transition immediately after giving birth. It's going to be tough to readjust to a constantly shifting schedule and physique (again!). And you may be experiencing some emotional difficulties as a result of being caught off guard by this new phase of your life, but that's okay.
The first few weeks can be overwhelming for new moms.
In the days and weeks after giving birth, it's common to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. You may not know what to expect, and you may need support from family or friends. It's important to take time off to bond with your newborn, so as much as possible, focus on your baby and on healing.
After giving birth, about 15% of all women will suffer from postpartum depression. In fact, up to 10% of pregnant women suffer from mood disorders as well. When a mother's mental health is in decline, the entire family suffers.
If you're feeling lonely and anxious and feel like no one from your family understands you, reach out for support from an online community like Postpartum Support International (PSI). PSI has a global membership with regional coordinators in all 50 states and over 36 additional countries, with headquarters in Portland, Oregon. They even offer a free phone chat with professionals on Mondays for Dads!
You'll need to prepare for changes both physically and emotionally.
In the first few weeks after giving birth, your body will undergo a lot of changes that can be difficult for some people to adjust to. You'll likely have an increased appetite, which may cause you to gain weight fast. Some women find that their breasts swell significantly in size during breastfeeding, causing sagging skin and tenderness around them.
In addition to these physical changes, it's also important for you to be emotionally well. Being able to talk about your pregnancy and birth journey makes it easier on everyone involved! Having someone close by who has been through this before will help ease anxiety while providing tips on how to best deal with this certain baby “issues” such as what to do with a colicky baby. And yes, it could even be someone who doesn't live nearby but willing to talk to you about your struggles.
Sometimes, it’s just confusing. But it’s all part of the process of healing and taking care of a newborn.
Your hormones are different. A lot of moms have found comfort in using a maternity pillow during pregnancy. After delivery, you may also find that it's harder to sleep. Use your maternity pillow to help you sleep better or aid in feeding your little one.
You’ll have a million things to do (wash baby’s bottles, clean their room, prepare food for yourself), but remember that you don’t have to do it all at once. Divide what needs to be done in small, manageable tasks throughout the day.
You're likely going to want to get back into some of the things you used to do before getting pregnant (like running marathons), but first take care of yourself by taking time off from work until your body gets more comfortable with its new normal.
Reach out to family and friends for support.
As you begin to recover, your baby will need a lot of attention. If you're breastfeeding, the extra weight and strain on your body can be physically demanding—and it's not just about the physical demands. Your mind and emotions are also affected by postpartum depression, which makes it hard for you to focus on anything besides caring for your child.
You’ll have your hands full with the baby, which means that one thing that moms need right away is help with mealtime preparation and cleanup. Don’t feel guilty about having to pay someone to help you around the house. Some moms feel that they’re not what a perfect mom should be when they can’t keep up with household chores and meal preparations. No parent is perfect!
If you’re reading this and still pregnant, consider enrolling in parenting classes. Workshops on parenting are beneficial for all parents, not just those who are new to the role. Parenting classes can provide a plethora of information that would be difficult to obtain otherwise, even if you read parenting books and blogs often and keep up with the latest research. By spending a few hours in the company of other parents and parenting experts, you can tap into their wealth of knowledge.
You'll want to make sure the baby is safe and comfortable when you're resting or sleeping.
It's important to use a pillow to support your back, as well as a nursing pillow for the baby. A maternity pillow also provides support for both you and your baby at the same time, especially while you’re nursing.
After giving birth, many women report increased back pain from lifting, carrying, and breastfeeding their infant. The simple act of bending over to lift a baby in and out of a crib can cause discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and back. In order to get some rest and let your muscles recuperate from the day's activities, a maternity pillow can be a massive help.
Finally, there are body pillows that provide more extensive support than any other type of pillow available on the market today and they can help make postpartum recovery easier by allowing you more freedom of movement while still being able to rest comfortably throughout the day.
Taking care of yourself does not mean being selfish.
Have you ever heard of the quote, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”? This adage emphasizes the importance of putting one's own needs first before worrying about those of others. Although the concept is simple in theory, putting it into practice may be trickier.
If a person does not take care of their body, then they will not be able to provide for their family or themselves in other ways. Without proper nutrition, sleep and exercise routines, there is no way for them to function properly as parents or individuals.
Postpartum can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be as long as you know what to expect and have a good support system in place.
Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition that affects up to 10% of women who give birth. It's important for new mothers to understand that their symptoms are not just normal postpartum blues—they should seek help from a doctor or mental health professional if they experience these symptoms:
- Feelings of sadness or despair; loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed; persistent thoughts about death or suicide.
- Changes in sleep patterns that include waking too early (more than once an hour) and difficulty falling asleep again until well past midnight even though you need sleep for your baby's development.
- Low energy levels; fatigue on top of physical exhaustion from being pregnant/nursing.
- Drastic changes in appetite