Giving birth to your baby is a different experience for everyone. For some people, it’s wonderful and exciting, whereas for others it can be traumatizing. There are things that we are all told about postpartum recovery, but not all of them are an accurate reflection of what it’s like. Truth be told you can never fully prepare yourself for what this is like, but you can do some things to prepare yourself.
In this article, we’re going to address some key factors about postpartum recovery. Some of it is positive, and some of it isn’t so great, but it’s important to have as much information as you can to face what is to come. So, if you are a new parent, or you are an expectant parent, this one’s for you.
It’s Not Tiredness, It’s Exhaustion
Some babies just sleep. And they sleep. And they sleep. However, other babies do not do this, and they are up constantly, they don’t seem to want to sleep, or they take a five-minute nap and that seems to do them for the next six hours. It’s exhausting both mentally and physically.
We’re sure that you have all heard people talk about how tired they were during this period, but it’s far more like exhaustion than simply being tired. Now, if you are not someone who experienced this with your baby then that’s great, you had a great little sleeper! But, more often than not this is not the case.
Sometimes advice like ‘just sleep when the baby sleeps’ isn’t helpful, even though people think that it is. It’s not helpful for a few reasons, one being that there isn’t always an opportunity for you to do this. Or, it might be the case that you can’t fall asleep when they do. Whatever the reason you can’t sleep when your baby does, does not make you wrong for being exhausted.
If you are struggling to sleep, see if these tips help.
Your Body Doesn’t Quite Feel The Same
A lot of things change once you have your baby. You’re in this weird in-between space where you are adapting to not having your body back yet, while also not sharing your body any longer. It’s quite a weird feeling and not one that people are expecting, which is why it’s mentioned on this list.
Things are still not back to how they used to be and that’s quite a shock to some women. Your body takes time to bounce back, and sometimes it never fully gets there. For example, there are some women out there who have found that it takes them years to get back to a place where they feel as though their body is their own again. Other women get there quicker than this, but it’s not a race, you just need to let your body have as long as it needs.
You Will Constantly Question Yourself
It’s normal to question yourself when making decisions, but when you’re a first-time mom, that second-guessing hits a whole new level. Most new parents question every little decision that they make, even if they know that they are doing the right thing. It’s perfectly normal but can be super difficult to deal with. But, there is no quick fix for this I’m afraid. One day you will just wake up and have a little more conviction in what you are doing because you will have spent time learning all the different things that you need to know.
Try to take comfort in the fact that second-guessing yourself is sometimes helpful in the early stages when everything is new. But don’t let it keep you from doing something that you know is right to do. Trust your mothering instincts and learn from any mistakes you make along the way.
Postpartum Mental Illnesses
Here’s something that isn’t talked about nearly as much as it should be because people see it as taboo: postpartum mental illness. It is a lot more common than we like to think, and yet we hide our symptoms because it’s embarrassing to talk about.
This leads to a lot of feelings of shame and inadequacy for those people who are experiencing this, which is completely the wrong way to look at things. Postpartum depression, anxiety, rage, and other things like this should all be treated with the utmost care and importance. Struggling during this stage is normal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay or that you have to suffer alone.
If you or someone you know is suffering from any kind of postpartum mental illness, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. The longer you keep this hidden and the longer you allow it to develop, the worse it’s going to get. It might be the most difficult thing that you ever have to do but get help for your sake and the sake of your little one. In fact, this is some of the best advice for new parents that we have, because it is that important.
It’s Important To Watch Your Bleeding
When you are in the postpartum period, whether you have had a vaginal birth or a cesarean there is likely to be some bleeding. Your midwife or doctor should talk to you about this, but a lot of them don’t and just expect you to know that bleeding is perfectly normal for up to a few weeks after you have had your baby. It might be brown or red in color, or for those who have had a cesarean, it will likely be an orange color.
If you are at all concerned then you should speak to your midwife and they will check for you. But, as long as it doesn’t continue past a few weeks, it’s probably pretty normal. Do ensure that you are watching for any kind of changes though, as you are the one who knows your body better than anyone else.
You will also want to make sure your iron levels stay steady. I suffered from anemia my whole life until it got so bad that I had to have a hysterectomy to keep my heart from wearing out. Looking back now, I know that that major surgery was preventable with proper nutrition but I never had a doctor tell me heavy periods and anemia weren’t normal. Do yourself a massive favor and find a nutritionist or holistic doctor who will help you stay optimal and healthy.
The Opinions Of Others Don’t Matter
It’s very easy to get caught up in the opinions of others. When you are in your postpartum period you are often more emotional which means that negative things can damage your self-esteem, but in the end, they don’t matter. If people annoy you or upset you, stop listening to them. We know that this is easier said than done, but you do not need this kind of negativity in your life.
With that said, you will want to choose a few people who you love and trust to be there for when you need advice or some tough love. They will help guide you and walk you through the struggles we listed above. No woman should be left to navigate motherhood alone when there are people out there who can help bear the load when you need it most.
It Is Okay To Set Boundaries For You And Your Baby
Some people like to make new parents feel bad when they feel the need to set boundaries for themselves and their babies. But, you need to know that it’s completely okay for you to set these boundaries. That is your child, and the boundaries that you are setting should be respected. For example, many parents don’t want anyone to kiss their baby because of the potential risk of RSV which can be fatal to very young children.
If you choose to set boundaries, stand firm in your decision, reiterating the fact that this is your baby and those are your boundaries. The same goes for things like sleep times. If you are someone who is trying to get into a routine and people are constantly asking you to skip it ‘just this once’ because they want to do something, stand firm. You have every right to make the decisions that work best for you and your little one.
I don’t want you to walk away feeling dread or fear over the postpartum recovery because for all the negatives, there are amazing moments that make every bit of the journey worth taking. Motherhood helps you to grow into a new person and generally changes your life. Being as prepared as possible for the reality though is important, and with the information that we have given you, hopefully you feel a little more prepared. We wish you the very best of luck and hope that you enjoy this time as much as you can with your new little one.