I thought I was SO prepared. I did everything right during my pregnancy, had a healthy baby, and I was ready to rock it at home. But within just two days of being home, I was on the phone to my pediatrician in desperation. Bringing baby home was anything but easy for me!
Your first baby can be a daunting thought – all the preparation in the world is unlikely to ease the anxiety that can be felt. Even doctors and pediatricians get overwhelmed when they bring their firstborn home from the hospital. You aren’t alone!
What to Expect After Labor
Before we go onto the topic of caring for your baby, let’s look at what you can come to expect the day after labor. First, you’ll likely have all-over pain derived from the stresses of labor. Your arms and legs are likely to be sore.
One point to note is that although aching legs are normal, you should ask your doctor if you get symptoms of tenderness, warmth or pain in the calves – this can include swollen or red veins. This is important as these symptoms could indicate thrombophlehitis – a condition when veins become inflamed due to blood clots. Pregnant women are more at risk to this condition because the vein walls tend to relax a little during the pregnancy. You can greatly reduce the chances of thrombophlehitis by walking soon after your delivery.
Other symptoms from pregnancy include stretch marks (which usually fade a few months after the birth, darkened areas of skin (the linea nigra and aerola are common), and a line running from the belly button to the pubic bone. You may also notice some hair loss about three months after birth – this is due to the change in the level of hormones and can be expected to stop within a couple of months after starting.
Lovely, eh? But these are small prices to pay for our bundle of joy.
Now that we are aware of a few of the common issues that mothers face immediately after childbirth, lets go on to caring for your new baby.
First Days at Home
The first few days home from the hospital are important for both baby and parents. As parents you will have gone through an intense birth process that is unlike anything else you have ever experienced. As a new mother you will be drained, both emotionally and physically New dads often have feelings of being overwhelmed by the huge responsibility he now faces.
During your first days at home, it’s wise to limit the amount of visitors that you welcome into your home becaus. You’ll need a lot of time to recover from the birth process. Other than your immediate family and good friends you might want to ask other friends to wait a week or two before they descend on you with gifts and wanting to hold the new baby.
New mothers will want to pay attention to the way that they feel so that those “baby blues” don’t creep up and surprise you unexpectedly. It is normal to feel a bit out of sorts and sad for the first couple of weeks after giving birth. Your body is going through some major physical changes after the birth of your baby.
Your hormones will be changing and you likely will be feeling a lack of sleep. It is important to remember that this is natural and to allow yourself a good amount of time to recover from this. If you find yourself feeling more and more depressed it is advised that you should discuss it with your doctor to see if you are suffering from “postpartum depression.” Symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Overwhelming feelings of sadness and depression accompanied by crying.
- Having little or no energy.
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
- Having no interest in your baby or being overly concerned and worried about your baby.
- Weight gain accompanied with overeating or weight loss accompanied by not eating.
- Insomnia or oversleeping.
What if I get Postpartum Depression?
If you do have postpartum depression then there are a few ways that you can try to beat it:
- Try and get as much rest and relaxation as possible. When the baby is asleep use this quiet time to get some rest yourself. Nap when baby naps—this is what I did and it helped a lot.
- Be more understanding with yourself and do not put yourself under too much pressure to “get back to normal”. Ensure that your family is aware that you need help with housework and so on.
- Try to limit the time that you spend just alone. Keep your mind and body relatively active (for example by taking short pleasant walks).
- Get professional help if the depression seems to be ongoing.
- Discuss with other mothers their experiences after birth. You may find that your friends and family members also went through the same issues as you.
During the first few days at home your family will be adjusting to the additional member of your family. If you have other children at home you may be dealing with feelings of jealousy as the new baby takes center stage.
Make sure that you include your other children in the day-to-day activities that are part of the new baby’s routine. Remember that you are trying to adjust to some huge changes in your life so allow yourself the understanding and care that you would give to family and friends in your situation.
Be kind and patient with yourself, mama!
Hugs and kisses,
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