What actually happens after birth?
Much of pregnancy is spent worrying about labour - when will it happen? How will it happen? How will I know what to do? Will I cope? (the answer to the last question is yes, yes you will) So we spend a lot of time Googling, reading, asking questions and taking classes, arming ourselves with everything we think we'll need in order to have the perfect birth for us. Before we know it, baby has arrived and we realise we haven't prepared ourself for this bit. The taking baby home, feeding, caring, growing bit. So naturally, it can feel pretty shocking and overwhelming. I have compiled a list of sorts below, in the hope that it might make you feel a little less blindsided after birth.
You will probably be in pain for a week or so after birth – whether you had your baby vaginally or by C-Section. Don’t be a hero – take the painkillers, use the ‘padsicles’, rest in bed or on the sofa for as long as possible, get your partner to wait on you hand and foot.
Walking will be hard. Sneezing and laughing will be uncomfortable. So will going to the toilet. This will pass, but in the mean time keep walking slow and to the minimum and when going to the toilet bring a bottle of water to pour over yourself (down there, not your head!) to ease the sting.
Breastfeeding can be painful or painless, difficult or easy and more often than not each woman will feel all these things at some point during her breastfeeding journey. The first three weeks can be tough; you and your baby are learning a new skill so a bit of difficulty is to be expected! If it isn’t going as well as you’d hoped then ask for help (some brilliant organisations are listed at the bottom of this page). If it really isn’t working out for you then bottle-feed! Don’t let anyone (including that little voice in your head) make you feel bad about it. Remember, bottle or breast – fed is best.
When you first get home with your new babe and you begin to navigate life as a tribe of 3/4/5, you might have some crazy and overwhelming thoughts and emotions. This is normal. Keep talking to your partner/parents/friends about how you’re feeling, rest as much as you can (sounding like a stuck record now aren’t I?) and try not to let these feelings consume you. Your hypnobirthing Up breaths will be valuable when feeling stressed or anxious.
Don’t try to do too much in the first couple of weeks and keep visitors to the bare minimum; just stay at home with your family, preferably in bed. If anyone kicks up a fuss (who are these people?!) remind them that babies are still cuddly and delicious at 3-4 weeks old.
Your body is not going to look the same for a while. This is ok. Remind yourself that the squidgy flappy bits gave you a baby and then try to forget about it. You made and birthed a human being and the body that did it is beautiful.
Enjoy the sweet, hazy newborn days. This sounds obvious but it can go by so quickly and before you know it normal life will start again. You will miss the slow, sleepy, milk drenched days when they are running around drawing on your walls and posting your credit cards into the DVD player.
I hope this helps. It can be a pretty intense time, those first few weeks, but they can also be magical. Just remember you are not alone, thousands upon thousands of Mothers are going through the same thing right at this very moment. We are a tribe.
Breastfeeding Advice and Support
Image: Mother and Baby Underwater by Quentin Blake