The First Week
Those months of nausea and researching unique baby names are finally over, and now the next chapter begins. This first week home as a new family will have its own unique challenges and adjustments as you all get to know one another.
Your body is going to be healing and beginning the process of returning to its pre-pregnant state. Your breasts will be producing colostrum, the thick nutritional gold that is all your newborn needs for the first several days. Soon you may feel your milk come in and your breasts may become engorged as your body transitions to milk production. Nursing your baby on demand, whenever they show any signs of hunger, can help relieve the pressure and regulate your supply. Mild to moderate cramping, especially during breastfeeding, may surprise you as your uterus shrinks back to its original pear size. The bleeding, orlochia, will also be fairly steady this week as your body discharges the last physical vestiges of pregnancy.
Of course depending on how you gave birth you will also be healing from any stitches and tenderness. “Padsicles” can really help to soothe a sore perineum. Listening to your body and trying to take it easy this first week will ensure that you have the strength to build back up to your normal routines in the weeks to come.
As Your Body Changes
As your body changes and adapts to the needs of your little one, your hormones will also be surging. This may mean that your partner may find you randomly sobbing these first days over inexplicable things. When combined with the intense emotions overcoming you, it can be hard to tell what is normal. If you or your partner feel like you may be suffering from more than the “baby blues” talk to your midwife or doctor and check out www.postpartum.org for more information.
Sleep is generally one of the hardest adjustments and one of the most infamous of challenges that comes with your new family member’s arrival. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones who were able to sleep soundly at the end of your pregnancy?
More than likely, though, you haven’t been able to sleep for a full night in a while. This first week home will be a time of healing and recovery for both you and your new baby. With a tiny stomach, your newborn will probably be nursing around the clock as your body works to produce the perfect nutrition. Keeping baby in your room to sleep in a bassinet beside you or in your bed can be hugely beneficial to maximizing the amount of sleep you get. For more information on safe sleep choices for your family click here or visit KellyMom.
Time to Adjust
The sweet bundle in your arms might be your picture of perfection right now, losing you in their innocence and milky breath or they may resemble your elderly neighbor. Bonding with your child might not come as naturally as you expected and it is absolutely okay to give yourself, and your partner, time to adjust. Take care of yourself by ensuring your basic needs are met (eating and drinking can help your emotional and physical health tremendously) and enjoy the little moments of peace with your baby.
Friends and family will probably be posting their wishes for a speedy recovery and a peaceful baby on your Facebook wall as well as knocking at your door. Visitors can be wonderful – and stressful – during your first week home as a new family. Being honest and open with well-intentioned guests about how you are feeling can help keep them from becoming overwhelming. Encourage visitors to bring you snacks and meals or to help you out with anything else you may need (like tossing a load of laundry into the wash). A quick note on your door with general guidelines can be a great way to avoid awkward conversations and any “lingerers.”
As you navigate these changes you will receive unsolicited advice from just about everyone you come across. You may already be an expert at weeding through it all and plucking the gems that appeal to you, or you may feel overwhelmed with it. Finding your own path as a parent will be full of twists and turns that no amount of google-ing and late-night baby forums will be able to predict. Through it all, and especially this first week, be kind to yourself and know that you are doing the best that you can.