Every parent is some variation of nervous when embarking on the new adventure of parenthood, even if it’s not their first time. We are now in unprecedented times and are facing special challenges. Rest assured that even with those additional challenges, the fundamentals have not changed.
Parents are usually so excited for their new baby that they spend most of the pregnancy getting ready for labor and delivery, forgetting about the postpartum time. If you have not had a baby before, it can be hard to imagine what this time will be like, and no one can really understand what full-time parenting means until they have experienced it themselves.
The eyes-wide-open approach is best. Educate yourself by learning about the possible experiences that could occur during the postpartum period. It is also important to normalize certain postpartum experiences so you do not think there is something wrong with you. Instead, you should familiarize yourself with the warning signs to know when there is truly an issue that needs medical attention.
Here are some top things to expect during the postpartum stage:
- You will feel tired. Sometimes, the days and nights will all run together.
- Around 2 to 4 days in, your breasts will produce more milk. Your body has been making milk called colostrum since mid- pregnancy. Your breasts will suddenly feel very full, and there will be a noticeable increase in your milk supply. If you are choosing to bottle feed, you will need to bind your breasts. This tells your body to stop making milk.
- You will have bleeding, called lochia, for up to six weeks, In the beginning, it will be like a moderate to heavy period. Then, it will decrease to a lighter flow, turn pink and will last about 10 to 14 days. Finally, it will be a whitish-yellow color, spotting to light in flow, and will last for 2 to 6 weeks.
- You will likely have some pain. This pain can come from a tear, a cesarean section scar, hemorrhoids, muscular-skeletal aches, and/or sore nipples.
- You will have cramps. It is normal because the uterus needs to shrink down to approximately pre-pregnancy size. The cramps can be more intense if this is not your first delivery.
- Your body will feel very different and it will take time to heal.
- You will forget things. Try to have a pad of paper close, or set reminders or write notes on your phone.
- It will be recommended that you do not exercise until after you are seen by your healthcare provider at your postpartum appointment.
- You will feel emotional and this is because your hormones are shifting, you are sleep deprived, and adjusting to having a new baby. This feeling, often called “the baby blues,” is normal and usually lasts 10 to 14 days.
- You will be instructed to not have intercourse for at least six weeks or longer if you need more time to heal. You should have your postpartum visit first and chose a birth control method prior to resuming intercourse.