Let’s set the scene. After 9 months of carrying your baby, you’ve finally gone through delivery and met your new baby. You have likely felt a range of emotions deeper than you ever thought possible, but now what? The first week postpartum can feel super overwhelming. Your old definition of “normal” doesn’t exist anymore, and, if we’re being honest, you were probably most focused on birth. So, what to expect going forward? Here’s a few of the big things:
What to Expect: The Joy of Meeting Your Baby
The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived. After hours of labor, you finally get to hold your newborn in your arms. It’s a moment of triumph and magic: your heart may swell with love and pride as you gaze at that tiny, precious face.
But here’s the twist: you’ll likely be exhausted, your emotions running high, and birth may not have been exactly what you envisioned. You may be floating on a cloud of euphoria and sleep deprivation realizing that birth is the beginning, not the end of the journey. Welcome to motherhood!
What to Expect: The Incredible Contracting Belly
You know that baby bump you’ve been sporting for the past nine months? It might stick around for a bit, but, baby, is it doing the work! Your uterus is a champ at getting back to its pre-pregnancy size, and it’s going to start contracting immediately after giving birth.
Cramping may come and go as your uterus shrinks back to its normal size, and if you’re breastfeeding, you may notice more cramping when you feed your baby. Take a deep breath and acknowledge all your body has done and continues to do!
Postpartum bleeding, or as it’s charmingly called, lochia, is common. You’ve just given birth, and now your body is shedding the lining of your uterus. This will continue for a few weeks, and it’s like having an extra-long, super-heavy period. Super fun, right?
Stock up on those maxi pads or adult diapers, because you’ll need them. And don’t be alarmed if you pass some clots – it’s all part of the process. Just remember to take it easy, avoid strenuous activities while your body heals, and always consult your doctor if you have concerns about your healing process.
The Hormonal Roller Coaster
Your hormones have been on a wild ride for the past nine months, and they won’t let up just yet. You might experience mood swings, tears, and moments of overwhelming joy – sometimes all in the same hour.
Blame it on those fluctuating hormones and the sheer exhaustion of caring for a newborn, and know it won’t last forever. Surround yourself with a support system that understands your emotional ups and downs, give yourself credit for all you’ve done and grace as you continue to do so much. And, if the emotional rollercoaster gets overwhelming or keeps going past 2 weeks postpartum, it might be time to connect with some professional mental health support. Becoming a parent is one of the biggest transitions of your whole life! You deserve some support through it.
What to Expect: Breastfeeding Challenges
If you choose to breastfeed, bring some tempered expectations! While it’s a beautiful and natural way to nourish your baby, breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally. Don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to get the hang of it.
Your breasts may become engorged, sore, and even leaky as they adjust to this new role. Give yourself patience, practice, and maybe a few lactation consultations. Remember: you’re building an entirely new skill set!
Sleep Deprivation, the New Normal
Remember all those nights you spent preparing the perfect nursery and stocking up on adorable baby clothes? Well, now it’s time to meet your new roommate: sleep deprivation
Your baby has their own schedule, and it doesn’t always align with your need for rest. Be prepared for long nights, catnaps, and feeling like a zombie. But don’t worry; this phase won’t last forever. Soon, you’ll adapt to the rhythm of your baby’s sleep patterns. But sleep deprivation during this time is serious enough so that you might want to do some planning beforehand.
Visitors and Support
In the midst of all the chaos and exhaustion, you’ll likely have a parade of well-wishers and visitors eager to meet your little one. While their intentions are good, it’s crucial to set boundaries and prioritize self-care.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to decline visitors if you’re not up for it. Your well-being and bonding time with your baby should take precedence during this delicate period.
What to Expect: Postpartum Body Changes
Your body has gone through incredible changes during pregnancy and childbirth, and it will continue to evolve postpartum. You might notice stretch marks, hair loss, and changes in your breasts and hips.
Remember that these changes are a testament to the incredible journey you’ve undertaken as a mother. Be kind to yourself and give your body the love and care it deserves. You’re a warrior, and your body reflects that.
Questions, Questions, and More Questions
Welcome to the club where questions outnumber answers, and it’s perfectly okay! Are you supposed to decipher the mysterious language of baby cries? Should you be a diaper-changing pro by now? Fear not, new parent extraordinaire, because having a gazillion questions just means you’re diving headfirst into the messy, magical world of parenthood. Believe us, you’re not alone in Googling things like, “Is it normal for a newborn to sound like a tiny, adorable velociraptor?” Spoiler alert: It probably is.
Confidence will come with time and experience. In the meantime, balance accepting the unknown with getting the answers you need from your pediatrician, a bestie with a baby, your village, or a postnatal coach. Because sometimes it feels good to know from the pros, and other times, it feels good to figure it out along the way and revel in the chaos.
While it may feel like a roller coaster ride, remember that you’re not alone on this journey. Embrace the highs and lows, lean on your support system, and soak in the snuggles. The first week postpartum is just the beginning, and you’re well-equipped to navigate it with grace, patience, and a whole lot of love. Welcome to the world of motherhood – it’s one heck of a ride!