Pregnancy and childbirth can be such overwhelming experiences for a woman that she and her partner often forget to consider what happens when baby actually comes home. A good postpartum plan can be just as valuable as a solid birth plan (and perhaps more so, as postpartum allows for a little more predictability than childbirth). Your postpartum doula can help you narrow down your wishes before baby arrives and help ensure things run smoothly.
Here are 5 things you can expect in the first 5 days postpartum:
1. Breastfeeding is a learning experience. For everyone involved.
While breastfeeding is completely natural, it can take a bit of adjustment for the whole family. Baby has to learn to latch properly and stay awake long enough to get enough to eat. Mom has to learn to help baby latch properly (to avoid nipple pain) and to anticipate baby's hunger cues. Dad has to learn to support mom, physically and emotionally, through a new parenting hurdle. Older siblings have to learn that baby will likely need to eat a lot and mom won't be as readily available as they're used to.
Everyone should give each other grace. With time, breastfeeding will become routine and easy for all involved.
2. You will experience more emotions than you thought possible for one human to contain.
Baby Blues occur in 70-80% of postpartum women. This can cause a lot of mood swings. Your brain is flooded with all kinds of hormones and trying to balance itself back out, so a little emotional instability is to be expected. You may feel so happy and blessed to have your sweet little baby one minute and completely convinced you're not capable of caring for him the next. Just know that it's normal and it will pass. However, if it's not clearing up by 2 weeks postpartum, contact your medical provider to discuss the possibility of postpartum depression.
3. Going to the bathroom basically takes an act of congress.
Whether you had a vaginal or cesarean birth, you're likely to be pretty sore afterwards. Just standing up takes a lot of effort and can cause quite a bit of pain. Then you have to actually go in the bathroom and deal with the horror scene that is lochia (the blood and tissue that is expelled from the uterus after birth). It's like a menstrual period on steroids. The good news is it will taper off daily. If your postpartum bleeding slows dramatically for a few days then suddenly picks back up, you're likely being too active. Give your body the time and rest it needs to recover. It has just accomplished an amazing feat!
4. You've never been this hungry. Ever.
This is especially true if you're breastfeeding. Your body is burning extra calories to make milk, not to mention you just completed what could be compared to a marathon (though probably more intense). Your body needs fuel and lots of it. Putting easy-to-eat snacks next to your bed at night can help during night feedings, and a postpartum doula can help make sure you stay adequately fed while you worry about keeping baby fed.
5. You'll want to talk about your birth experience to even the least receptive audience.
No matter what kind of birth you had, you're probably going to want to talk about it. A lot. To everyone. You just accomplished this amazing thing and you have all these emotions built up, so let it out! If people don't want to hear about childbirth, they probably shouldn't be visiting a woman days after she's had a baby. A postpartum doula can be a particularly good sounding board for your story, as she's trained in active listening and her goal is to make you feel heard and supported.
Postpartum is such an amazing and emotional time. You need support and as much rest as possible. Don't obsess over what you think you “should be doing”. The dishes can wait. Sit/lay down and snuggle your sweet baby without apology.
You've more than earned it!
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