When you first get pregnant, there are things you think about. You think about how painful labor might be. You think about how you will decorate the nursery. You think about what things you are and are not allowed to eat.
You don’t really think that much about what happens after the baby comes. Like the, when you get home part.
So, let’s talk about it.
1. Recovery Can Be Worse Than Childbirth
This isn’t always the case, but with my first, I was totally unprepared for how hard recovery can be. My labor and delivery was virtually painless, but it didn’t take long until I felt like I had been hit by a truck. The four feet between my hospital bed and the bathroom seemed like it might as well have been a mile. Days later, I still couldn’t stand up straight. It took weeks before I felt anything like myself. And that’s when ….
2. Sleep Deprivation Will Hit When You Think You Have A Routine
For the first few days and maybe even weeks, you run on hormones. You know when the baby wakes up, how long it takes to get him back to sleep and you even figure out how to pump one side after feeding from the other. You start thinking, “If I can get a total of 4 or 5 hours of sleep, I’ll be totally fine.” And you will be. For about 2 weeks. Then suddenly, the hormones start to wear off and the weeks of sleep deprivation hit you and suddenly you’re back to the first trimester when you couldn’t keep your eyes open.
The only problem is, the baby hasn’t really changed her sleep schedule and you desperately start googling how to get a 3 week old to sleep through the night at 2 am. Well, your three week old probably won’t sleep through the night, but you will get into a pattern of a new normal and you will learn to nap when the baby naps.
3. Every Naptime Is An Internal Battle Between: Eat, Sleep, Shower, or Clean
First of all, cleaning should not be on this list. Take it off. Seriously all you neat freaks out there. Take. It. Off. Your. List. At lea. st for a month. Insist that grandparents that are visiting the baby help out in this area and enlist your partners help. You are recovering from 9 months of pregnancy and childbirth, get someone else to do the cleaning for a little while. The other 3 are legit though. It doesn’t matter what you choose, you will instantly regret not choosing the other two.
Here’s my advice: Sleep. I do recommend taking a shower AT LEAST every other day, but this can be done when the baby is in a happy mood and can be put in the bouncer or swing right next to the shower. This will go a long way toward making you feel like a human being again. Meal prep can be done while baby wearing and eating can be managed while holding a baby (or someone else holding a baby.) The only thing that you cannot do with an awake baby is sleep.
4. The Postpartum Bleeding Is Real
Imagine the worst period you have ever had. Now multiply by ten. For some lucky women, it might just be like a regular period for about a week or so. For others, it’s a month long horror show where you start to question whether you have any more blood in your body. The hospital will give you gigantic pads, which you will probably actually need for a few days, but after that regular pads will suffice for as long as necessary.
5. Your Body Will Take Time to Go Back to Normal, More Time Than You Think
Walking out of the hospital, don’t be surprised if you still look 5-6 months pregnant. Even when the number on the scale returns to something that looks familiar to you, you may find that your body isn’t quite . . . normal. Your hips may wider, there may be extra flab around your stomach that wasn’t there before. 3 months postpartum with my first, I weighed 10 pounds less than the day I got pregnant. I hadn’t shopped for fall clothes for two years and finally feeling more like myself, I headed to Target. Big. Mistake. Even though the number on the scale said I was smaller, the fact that I had to go UP a size in clothes destroyed my new self-confidence.
The styles and silhouettes that had always been my go-to looks suddenly fit all wrong. After baby number 2 (and losing the weight again), I was never able to get back into my old clothes or my old size. Things just moved around. The best thing I did was embrace my new body and find clothes that were now flattering.
6. You Will Need To Verbally Express Your Needs
Nobody is a mind reader. Your husband will have no idea when you are exhausted and at the end of your rope. Even your mom won’t actually know what you need when you need it. That means you need to get really good at expressing your needs and expectations BEFORE you get to the end of your rope. The reality is that the majority of the baby care will fall on you, so you will need to be very clear about when you need help. Remember that this is all new for everyone, not just for you. And if people don’t seem particularly sensitive, ie, coming to visit too often, expecting you to bounce back to normal right away, or whatever, don’t be afraid to say so and draw some clear boundaries.
7. It Might Takes Months For Your Period To Come Back, Or Not
The internet is full of people saying things like, “I didn’t get my period back for 8 months” or “As long as you breastfeed, you won’t get your period.” All of that might be true, or it might not. Don’t be shocked and buy a bunch of pregnancy tests if you miss a few months. At the same time, try not to be disappointed if your period come back a month after the baby.
8. It Will Be Different For Every Mom and Every Baby
Just because your sister, and best friend all dropped the weight and went back to their regular routine five days after having a baby doesn’t mean that it will be that way for you. Or just because your mom had a horrible postpartum experience, doesn’t mean that you will too. If it’s not your first baby, don’t expect your recovery to go exactly like the last time. With my first, recovery was AWFUL. The second time around, I could have jumped up and gone back to my usual activities about an hour after having the baby.
There’s no way to predict how it will go for you, but take one day at a time, you’ll make it through.