The postpartum period brings so much change.
Even if you felt fully prepared to welcome a new baby into the mix, there's a lot of details and questions that you might find yourself missing the answers to now that your baby is here.
One of the best parts of our job as postpartum doulas is helping new parents feel confident as they navigate postpartum life.
Let's get you some of the answers you need.
Ah... the golden question.
It took nine months for your baby to grow and your body to change, so it won't disappear overnight. Be patient with yourself! Your uterus needs time to shrink back down in size. It typically takes about six weeks for your uterus to heal and return to it's "normal size" but everyone's body is different.
Don't rush yourself to the gym. Recovery and pre-baby body takes some time. Aside from having birthed your baby, your uterus has a placenta-sized wound that needs to heal.
Eat nutritiously, get as much rest as possible, and gently re-introduce some activity back into your routine. Being active can be as simple as taking a walk around the block or even going outside to get the mail. Most importantly, listen to your body! Dial back the activity if you're feeling increased tiredness or if you have any increase in postpartum bleeding. (And of course always check in with your provider about safe exercises for you.)
Obviously giving birth - whether surgically or vaginally - takes an exorbitant amount of energy. But why do you still feel so tired?
Even if you're one of the lucky ones getting some valuable sleep during the postpartum period, the stress of this huge new responsibility may be creating some physical and emotional fatigue.
Taking care of yourself is so important. With a postpartum doula's support it's easier for you to devote some time each day to sleep and self care. Take regular naps and eat healthy foods that will provide sustained energy.
It's okay to feel tired, you have a lot on your plate.
Rearranging your priorities, to-do lists and chores will keep you from that horrible treading water feeling, and less stress means you'll feel more refreshed! It's so hard not put your own self care on the back burner when you have a new baby, but taking care of yourself is a big part of caring for your baby. Your energy will return, just take some baby steps each day to help it along.
It's unsettling to feel all the aches and pains of the first few days postpartum in addition to postpartum bleeding. While unpleasant, bleeding is normal and all a part of the healing process (yes, even if you gave birth via cesarean section). Lochia or the discharge that happens after delivery starts with a fair amount of blood and changes in consistency and color for about a month on average.
Throughout the first few days to two weeks, bleeding will begin heavy and taper off to spotting in most normal cases. If the bleeding is persistent and heavy, or if bleeding picks up again after initially tapering off, it could be a sign of something more serious like late postpartum hemorrhaging or even infection. Pay attention to your body's changes and contact your care provider if you have any concerns regarding your postpartum bleeding or recovery.
You might not feel too sexy right away, but hey... humans have needs.
There's such a huge range of "normal" when it comes to bringing intimacy back to your postpartum life. Your healing postpartum body may (or may not!) be ready for some intimacy physically before you're emotionally feeling back to yourself. Or you may be yearning for some more emotional connection with your partner well before you feel physically ready to connect. It's also completely normal for new moms to feel "touched out" after spending so much time being needed by their babies.
Emotionally, you're likely a cocktail of hormones, emotions, and stress when you hit the six week mark recommended by most doctors to get back into the swing of things. Once your postpartum bleeding is nearly over, you should be physically ready for sex.
Communicate with your partner about how you're feeling.
If you aren't feeling particularly sexy or you're uncomfortable, talk it out to stay on the same page. Find what is comfortable for you to bring the spark back in your love life. (And if you are experiencing pain during sex, talk to your provider. Many women benefit from some sessions with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist to address a number of postpartum problems from pain during intercourse, to painful periods, incontinence and more.)
Getting back to feeling yourself can take some time.
Dedicate some extra time to self care in your routine, and allow yourself to heal and enjoy this time to bond with your little one.
The healing process can be a long road, our doulas are there to support you through every step of your journey.