The transition to new motherhood is not always an easy one. There are a lot of things that happen that you don’t expect. Knowing what to expect makes things a lot less scary. When things are less scary you feel more confident and are able to advocate for you and your baby more effectively. Here are some things to expect in the postpartum period:
Your milk will come in
Usually between postpartum day 2 and day 5 your mature milk will come in. It comes in fast. One time I remember laying down for a nap and waking up to breasts that were huge, hard, and full of milk. This was shocking.
The leaking that followed was shocking as well. Get a few kinds of breast pads to stick in your bra to absorb leakiness. Keep these with you, at least until your milk supply regulates and even beyond (if you let down unexpectedly).
There are disposable ones as well as reusable ones. I prefer the reusable ones for much the same reason I prefer cloth diapers. The chemical contents are, frankly, scary. In a pinch I have even used an insert from a pocket diaper, a washcloth, or at times even a sock (don’t judge).
Your baby is not born hungry
Despite what doctors and nurses may believe, babies are not born famished. They have been fed via the umbilical cord for 40 weeks continuously. In fact your baby’s stomach can only handle 5-7 milliliters of food. Your body knows this. This is why it produces colostrum in small amounts. Feeding a newborn more will not cause his or her stomach to stretch to accommodate more fluid, it will just cause your baby to spit up- a lot.
Your body may not bounce back
I hate to be the one to say this. Most often women do not walk out of the hospital wearing pre-pregnancy clothes. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Your body grew, carried, and birthed a person. Now it is preparing to feed that baby for several months.
Your body should not be expected to pop right back into pre-pregnancy form. Your stomach may be saggy. Your breast may be giant and rock hard. You may have stretch marks. All of this will change as you recover from birth. Your body may return to a similar shape as before, or it may not. Your body did an amazing thing, and is doing an amazing thing.
Breastfeeding will not ruin your breasts
Electing to bottle-feed will not save your breasts. They have already grown and changed during your pregnancy. So in away- if you choose to look at it like this way- your breasts were already ruined- may as well get some use out of the entire situation.
Some women do have their breasts return to like they never had babies others have the ‘windsock effect’ and others still have bigger breasts than before. Genetics is a good hint as to what will happen- but it is not a guarantee.
Having your baby caused a huge hormone shift. You may feel manic, hyper, euphoric one minute then a few minutes later feel depressed, anxious, or irritable. Irritability seemed to be the biggest thing for me. Everything bothered me. This is normal. What is not normal is having thoughts about hurting yourself or the baby. Just because it is not normal doesn’t mean it is unheard of. You are not alone.
You are not the first person to feel this way, nor will you be the last. What you do need to do is tell someone. Tell your spouse, mom, sister or trusted friend. Go to the emergency room. Tell your doctor. Feeling this way does not mean that you do not love your baby. It just means that your brain is having a hard time adjusting to the new chemistry.
Think of stretch marks as pregnancy service stripes. ~ Joyce Armor
There are so many things to get used to after having a baby. Everything is changing. There is very little will cause the kind of upheaval that having a baby will, you can weather this, promise.
About the Author: Christobel, is a London resident and loving grandmother. She enjoys connecting with people the world over and learning about eco-conscious living. Christobel also enjoys helping new mothers find their footing in their new roles. She offers advice on everything from diaper size to breastfeeding in a loving way.
Images: 1) Kathryn Rossiter 2) Photodune