You have just been through the mountain task of nurturing a life inside your womb and delivering it in a process that took up a lot of your energy. The good news is that your little bundle of joy is in your arms. The bad news is that what you thought as a mountain task wasn’t one compared to what is ahead of you.
The Absolutely Normal Roller Coaster Ride
You are going through a set of emotional and physical experiences that are alien to you. Especially, if this is your first child, it is absolutely normal for you to feel like on a roller coaster ride. There is no way of getting used to it, but you can survive the ride.
There is no need to be ashamed of being exhausted. You grew a whole human being inside your body for 40 weeks and went through dramatic physical changes as well as frantic hormonal changes. You may be sleep deprived and lost some during delivery. If you had a C-section, you are dealing with little more loss of blood and pain as well.
What Is Normal? And When To Call your Doctor?
In the first few days of delivery, you might continue to experience pain because the uterus will continue to have contractions. Another phenomenon that you can’t ignore is engorged breasts and sore nipples. Your breasts will get used to the swelling due to milk filling in them and lactation within 10 days. It is normal to experience hot and cold flashes after delivery. These will continue for a few days until your body has adjusted to the hormone changes.
Do not freak out at the sight of dark red colour vaginal discharge with thick texture. They are the leftover blood, mucus and tissues from uterus called lochia. They will gradually change to whitish yellow and stop within six weeks. A sanitary napkin soaked in lochia within an hour indicates a heavy flow. You must reach out to your doctor in case of heavy flow continuing for several hours every day or the dark red colour doesn’t fade to pinkish red after 10 days because these could be signs of postpartum haemorrhage.
The area between your vagina and anus may be torn or cut and stitched by your doctor during vaginal delivery. It will take some time to heal and it is normal to experience pain till then. Make sure to maintain absolute hygiene to avoid infection. Sitting on a pillow will be more comfortable than a hard surface. More caution is required if you had a C-section because it takes more time to heal. If the incision becomes red or swollen, you must immediately consult your doctor.
Baby Blues or Depression?
The level of oestrogen and progesterone have rapidly dropped after delivery and your body is experiencing a drastic shift in the presence of hormones. As a result of this, you might randomly feel sad, irritated, angry, happy and overwhelmed. These are called baby blues and they are most likely to disappear within two weeks.
However, if you feel emotionally imbalanced and miserable with anxiety even after two weeks, you might be going through postpartum depression. It is a widely seen phase in women. And it doesn’t make your love and affection for the baby any less. So there is no need to feel guilty of your state of mind and be sure to reach out for help. Your doctor will suggest treatment that may include therapy, medication, diet, exercise and rest. You can overcome this phase with the help of your support system.
Regaining Physical Strength
Anyone who tells you that exhaustion after pregnancy is not to be taken seriously are wrong. Consulting a dietician is not an unnecessary luxury because you need to regain strength with a nutritious and balanced diet. Your health is significant for the baby as well, not only because you are lactating but you are the only person with whom the baby is bonded. It is essential that your body and mind nurture the little one with a healthy warm presence.
Sleep deprivation can have deep negative impacts on your body and mind, especially when you are in a vulnerable state like postpartum. It will be impossible to maintain your sleep cycle with the random routine of the new born. A peaceful sleep of eight straight hours is out of the question because your baby need to be fed in between or will have a crying session. The trick is to sleep when your baby is sleeping. Do not hesitate to take advantage of every nap session you get, even if it is for 30 minutes. It will help you store some energy by the time your baby wakes up.
It goes without saying that you need help. Ask for help and allow your friends and family to take care of you. Chores such as cleaning and grocery shopping are out of question now.
How Soon Is Too Soon?
It goes without saying that the six weeks after delivery is crucial and the couple need to be cautious. The mother’s body need time to heal. So exertion is not a good idea in these weeks. Exercise, swimming, heavy lifting and climbing stairs can overwork the internal organs and hurt the healing tissues. Having sex and using tampons can cause bacterial infection or reopen the healing tissues. You are most likely to recover by the end of sixth week.
If you are not feeling comparatively more energetic and stable by the end of eighth week, consulting your doctor and getting some advice will be the right move.