There’s a lot going on in the first few postpartum days (and weeks) after returning home with your newborn. Even if you already have children of your own, you can forget what it was like during the initial adjustment phase. From the physiological to the emotional, we wanted to provide a cheat sheet to help you prepare for that first phase of postpartum life.
Tips For Adjusting to the Initial Postpartum Days
Prepare yourself for the abrupt adjustment from being pregnant – to not
It took your body about eight- to nine months to grow your baby and expand your pregnant belly. Then, with some abrupt pushing – or a C-Section – that belly is immediately emptied. In the meantime, the connective tissues that hold the pelvic organs together have shifted and stretched, and you’ll be able to feel this every time you stand up or use your abdominal muscles.
This is totally normal – as are the uncomfortable to painful contractions that occur as your uterus begins to shed the rest of the lochia and tone itself back up again. Be gentle with yourself.
Surround yourself with absorbent materials
A lot of fluids are involved with the postpartum phase, and the more absorbent materials you have on hand, the less laundry you’ll do in the long run.
- Sanitary pads – Keep pads attached to your underwear to catch the lochia (bloody, vaginal fluid that lasts for about 10- to 14-days.). They’ll also come in handy as you adjust to postpartum incontinence, which should begin to resolve itself with time and your attention to rebuilding pelvic strength.
- Towels – Until you and your baby are on a more set breastfeeding schedule, leaking milk is more like a gush than a trickle. Nursing pads are great but rarely sufficient during the beginning stages. When you’re home, consider using folded towels inside your shirt to save your clothes and sheets. They’ll also come in handy if the baby pees on you during diaper changes and the copious amounts of spit-up that are common when a baby overeats or if their tummy is upset.
- Clean gauze for incision drainage. If you’ve had a C-Section, your incision will drain as it heals. Keep the area clean and dry – and use sterile gauze to absorb the leaky serum.
It’s best to accept that you’ll be leaky, damp, and (potentially) smelly for a little while…but that’s par for the course with new motherhood.
Readjust ideas about timing and scheduling
Everything takes unbelievably longer when you have a baby. Getting from your bedroom into the car for a quick grocery errand can take about an hour (no joke) by the time you’ve packed the diaper bag, fed the baby, changed a diaper, changed your shirt from the spit-up, fed the baby again and are ready to go. Be flexible and forgiving about anything resembling timetables or schedules.
Women’s Health Associates wishes you a warm, heart-filled congratulations on the birth of your newborn. We’re always here to help if you have any issues with your pregnancy or the postpartum period, and there’s no question too small for us to take on.