Postpartum Recovery: First Week At Home With Baby

Today I want to write about something that rarely gets discussed: postpartum recovery. I often hear moms say recovery was harder than the labor itself and that many of them felt unprepared to deal with all that postpartum recovery entails. I was also a part of this group of moms who knew very little about what follows labor & delivery and how to transition into home life after the birth of a new baby.

I remember feeling much more pain than I anticipated and going through emotional ups and downs that I wasn’t prepared for. They called it baby blues, but at times it felt more intense than “blues.” In fact, there were sleepless nights when I was suddenly gripped with worry that I wasn’t cut out to be a mother. Everything felt so fragile, so raw, so new…and I felt I wasn’t quite ready to tackle the challenges facing a new mother.

Ten years and two children later- this time I knew exactly what to expect and equipped myself with the knowledge and team of people to help me through the recovery process which made the transition from pregnancy to postpartum a lot smoother, joyous even.

I remember feeling much more pain than I anticipated and going through emotional ups and downs that I wasn’t prepared for. They called it baby blues, but at times it felt more intense than “blues.” In fact, there were sleepless nights when I was suddenly gripped with worry that I wasn’t cut out to be a mother. Everything felt so fragile, so raw, so new…and I felt I wasn’t quite ready to tackle the challenges facing a new mother.

Ten years and two children later- this time I knew exactly what to expect and equipped myself with the knowledge and team of people to help me through the recovery process which made the transition from pregnancy to postpartum a lot smoother, joyous even.

Two weeks into postpartum recovery, I’m currently feeling good overall. I can use a few more hours of sleep of course, but it’s more like light tiredness not I’d-kill-for-extra-sleep kind of fatigue. I’m eating well, my number one focus being producing enough quality breastmilk for the baby, and taking care of myself by not lifting heavy things and not doing house chores that require lots of bending over, pushing and other strenuous movements. I even hired postpartum help who helps with all the cooking for my family, which frees up my time and energy to focus on the baby.

In fact, the past few weeks feel like luxury, as I know what awaits me once the help leaves and I’m left to take care of three kids all by myself. But for now, I’m soaking up the new baby smell in the air, and taking full advantage of this time of rest, relaxation and bonding with the little one. I just wish I knew better than to “do too much” with my first two children and took better care of myself with all my pregnancies, not just this one.

D-week1-33

First week at home

We live and we learn, right? Now I want to reiterate some important points to keep in mind for your own postpartum recovery. Please note these are my personal observations and may be different for other women.

1. You will be extremely tired

You will most likely feel the initial “high” of meeting your baby for the first time, which I’d like to call supercharged love hormones. Scientifically, your body produces extra dose of endorphins right after delivery to make you feel this way, and emotionally you are on cloud nine at the beauty of your little one.

Once the initial high fades, extreme fatigue will hit you both physically and mentally. The birthing process is called “labor” for a reason. It’s the hardest work your body has ever done and you will be extremely tired.

Once the initial high fades, extreme fatigue will hit you both physically and mentally. The birthing process is called “labor” for a reason. It’s the hardest work your body has ever done and you will be extremely tired.

Even though I had a relatively smooth delivery, I was beyond tired hours after the baby was born. The exhaustion was so severe I felt like passing out during the first hour of skin-to-skin time. I don’t remember feeling THAT tired, ever, and I don’t know how I got through breastfeeding those first 24 hours at the hospital. Everything is a blur and it felt as if every last bit of energy and life has been sucked out of me.

And it has– I just gave birth to a new life.

So whether or not you feel tired immediately or hours after delivery, be sure to get plenty of rest and sleep those first few nights. And be sure you have someone right by your side to do the diaper changing and help with feeding by bringing the baby to you and putting the baby back to sleep.

Similar to labor, postpartum recovery is like a marathon. You have only begun your recovery, so be sure to take it easy and save your energy because there are many sleepless nights ahead of you.

Similar to labor, postpartum recovery is like a marathon. You have only begun your recovery, so be sure to take it easy and save your energy because there are many sleepless nights ahead of you.

2. You will still look pregnant

I didn’t know this the first time, but you will still look pregnant even after giving birth. You will definitely feel lighter and may even shed 10 pounds or more, but your stomach will still be stretched out and you will still look like you are 6-7 months pregnant.

Your body went through 10 months of changes to create a new life, and it will take at least 6 months to a year to feel like yourself again. For many women, this process takes even longer. So mentally prepare yourself for this and do not be discouraged to still be wearing maternity clothes even after you return from the hospital.

3. There will be a lot of pain

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there will still be a lot of pain after delivery whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section. If you delivered naturally, you will experience weeks of bleeding that is much heavier than your menstrual period. You will also experience painful cramping as your uterus contracts back to its normal size as well as backache, pelvic ache, shoulder ache…you get the point. You just pushed out a baby, you will feel its aftermath from head to toe.

If you delivered via c-section, recovery may be even harder. You just went through huge abdominal surgery so you will be bed ridden and find it difficult to do anything except feed the baby. Be sure to take care of yourself and take it easy especially during the first few weeks.

You may also be swollen, red, itchy and bruised depending on how your labor and delivery went. This time I had itchiness on my back where I had the epidural and developed rashes. I also had swollen feet for days followed by headache and body chills in the first week.

Most importantly, do not rely on pain medication and overwork your body.

Most importantly, DO NOT RELY ON PAIN MEDS AND OVERWORK YOUR BODY! I didn’t realize this after the birth of my second baby and foolishly thought I was okay because I couldn’t feel the pain. I wasn’t really okay, just heavily medicated with strong Motrin, so this time I made a conscious effort not to take so much medication and just listen to my body. After the first week, I stopped taking medication altogether so I can feel some of the pain. This way I can ensure that I wasn’t doing more than my body can handle. Do not fall into the medication trap. Even if you feel okay due to meds, you need rest.

4. You will need help

I cannot reiterate this enough– BE SURE TO GET HELP. I didn’t get much help after the birth of my second baby and ended up coming down with postpartum depression after 3 months due to lack of sleep and pushing myself too hard. I think I felt bad that others had to help me with my first daughter that I took on too much with my second.

Looking back, I should’ve taken things more slowly during the postpartum recovery period instead of running on empty from day one. Another crucial life lesson learned; you can read more about that chapter of my life here.

Remember, your recovery is just as important as your baby’s health and growth. Take care of yourself and your needs as well because your motherhood journey has only just begun. Let others take care of you, so you have enough energy to take care of the baby once the help leaves.

Let others take care of you in the first few weeks, so you have enough energy and willpower to take care of the baby once the help leaves.

5. Breastfeeding will begin immediately

breastfeeding-postpartum

Breastfeeding will begin immediately even before your breastmilk comes in. From the moment your baby is born, you and your baby will be attached together for what feels like around-the-clock feeding. He or she will have to learn to latch correctly and the breastfeeding journey will begin the moment the baby is born.

When I was learning to breastfeed the first time, it didn’t feel natural. I had to learn how to hold the baby correctly and deal with cracked and sore nipples while my uterus is contracting back to its normal size. It was painful and I wanted to quit so many times. I also learned that breastfeeding means less sleep, because I have to be the one feeding or pumping every 2-3 hours instead of relying on others to feed the baby for me. (You can always pump, but it’s important to do this frequently in the early weeks to keep up your milk supply.)

If you have your mind set on breastfeeding, know that it’s going to be a long journey and keep going. It will get easier and you will master the process. Eventually you will find breastfeeding to be such a beautiful and joyous endeavor and will miss it one day when your baby becomes more interested in other foods.

If you have your mind set on breastfeeding, know that it’s going to be a long journey and keep going. It will get easier and you will master the process. Eventually you will find breastfeeding to be such a beautiful and joyous endeavor and will miss it one day when your baby becomes more interested in other foods.

In the end, postpartum recovery is difficult but doesn’t have to be dreadful. Be sure to plan ahead and do what you can to have enough help and support around you in those early weeks.

In the end, postpartum recovery is difficult but doesn’t have to be dreadful. Be sure to plan ahead and do what you can to have enough help and support around you in those early weeks.

Be sure to prioritize your recovery along with baby’s well-being. Taking care of yourself is not only for yourself but also for the baby because your motherhood journey is only beginning and things will get even more challenging in the future. Don’t feel guilty to just lay around and do nothing but feed, soothe and bond with the baby.

You and your baby deserve this precious time together because like every mother will tell you, it all passes in the blink of an eye.

What did your postpartum recovery look like? If you liked this post, please pin the image below. It helps other new mothers find this post for information. 

Also, check out my Ten Postpartum Essentials List to help you prepare for the big day!

postpartum-cover-3

Angela
Share:

11 thoughts on “Postpartum Recovery: First Week At Home With Baby

  1. Emily

    Great post!! I loved all your points. And bravo for hiring postpartum help!!! That is so important. I took it pretty easy the first couple weeks postpartum, and I was prepared to look 6-7 months pregnant afterwards, but I don’t think I was prepared for the exhaustion! I was so lucky & blessed to have my mom stay with us for 3 weeks & thankfully I let her mother me and do all the cooking and cleaning. I’m sure that it will be even more important to have help with a second babe!! Thanks for sharing all this, mama! xo

    Reply
    1. Angela | Mommy Diary Post author

      Yes I really don’t think I could’ve done it without my mom and postpartum help. After trying to do it all by myself, and failing, I learned to accept help even if it means spending extra money and time into it. My health and well-being are so important for the baby, you know? With a second it gets even more hectic but it’s manageable as long as we know what we can and can’t do..just my humble opinion! Thanks for reading Emily!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *