For many, the post-delivery days in the hospital are kind of a blur. Nurses are in and out of the room at all times, visitors are stopping in or calling nonstop, and us new mamas are in and out of sleep, staring in awe at our new babies. We can’t wait to get home to our comfy beds and our own showers and finally put that nursery to use! And yet, when we do get home, nerves start to settle in. Suddenly we are responsible for changing, feeding and bathing this little one, without the convenience of the nurse “call” button handy.
I remember feeling both relieved and overwhelmed the first day home with Ladybug. Every time she slept (which was nearly all day) I watched her chest to be sure she was breathing okay. I constantly checked her skin to be sure she wasn’t too hot or too cold. It was hard to close my eyes and rest, although I needed it. Each day after was the same, but with added worries: How many wet diapers did she have today? Is she getting enough milk? Am I burping her correctly? And my biggest concern was actually the first bath…not knowing how or what to use. Our setup was nothing like the hospital’s and I wasn’t able to witness Ladybug’s hospital bath (I was finally sleeping after my 24-hour labor) so I had no real idea what to do. We managed to get it done, but let’s just say, I dreaded bath-time for the first few months and always had my hubby help me. It just made me so nervous.
And it’s not just the newborn stuff that you are dealing with when you get back home–it’s also the road to recovery that can be a bit much for some. Each woman has a different labor and delivery experience as well as a different tolerance to pain. Some choose the epidural, some opt for a “drug-free” birthing experience. C-section or vaginal, home or hospital, every mama has to recover. Tearing is common in vaginal deliveries and can range from single stitch tears to multiple stitch (such as in my case…not fun!) and can make healing a bit more difficult. Sitting on the couch, bed or chair was a nightmare for me for the first two weeks. I had to sit with a pillow under my bottom at all times. And car rides to the follow-up doctor appointments were horrible! Using the restroom was not only painful, but a 10 minute process as well.
As most know, bleeding can be heavy for a while after birth. I personally had one heavy week followed by a medium week before the bleeding finally started to fade. This may sound a bit graphic, but every time I used the toilet, I also had to cleanse my stitched area with a squirt bottle of water, let it air dry, spray with a numbing agent (amazing product that the hospital sent home with me…I highly recommend it!), replace my sanitary napkin and throw on a couple of witch hazel cooling pads on top. It was such an ordeal! When company was over or I was alone with the baby, I often avoided using the restroom because it took so long.
Aside from these physical curve balls, there is also the hormone overload to deal with. We cry because baby is perfect and we are happy. We cry because we are in pain and sad. Or, a lot of the cries are just because we are so very tired and just feel like crying. In most cases, these hormones will eventually balance out on their own. However, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself and your partner or close family member of the signs for Postpartum Depression. PPD, as explained here, is a very common and serious issue that new moms face and can often go unnoticed if those around don’t know what to look for. Be sure to reach out if there is any concern for PPD as it is very treatable. Keep following MinuteForMom.com, as we will cover the topic of postpartum in the near future.
The first few weeks at home may certainly be rough, but of course well worth it. The less you have to do around the house, the better. Having pre-made frozen meals and housework assigned to close family or friends will give you time to heal and bond with baby. Make a trade…those who want to see your little sweetheart will gladly take on a task in exchange. Also, prior to arriving home, it may be a good idea to inform visitors of your privacy wishes. Everyone will be so excited to meet the baby and you may not have the heart to turn them away. Perhaps try keeping the first day home quiet and private while you make yourself comfy (as much as you can anyway) and maybe even get some much needed sleep. If there is ever a time to sit and do absolutely nothing, it’ll be now. And actually, you won’t be doing “nothing”, as you’ll be caring for baby around the clock. Welcome to mommy-hood!