Congratulations, you are no longer pregnant! You have a beautiful baby, probably the most perfect baby the world has ever known, and you are eager to speed through your post birth recovery and enjoy your new life as a mom.
Knowing what to expect can help you feel in control, as well as allow you to take the time needed to get back on your feet faster.
Postpartum bleeding is normal, but it is not like regular menstrual bleeding. The bleeding is generally much heavier and can include large clots. Passing clots as large as golf balls can be normal.
Bleeding lasts anywhere from 2-6 weeks and tapers off slowly. The discharge changes as you heal from bright red to a milky pink. If you revert to heavier flow, or back to redder discharge your body is telling you to slow down.
Weight loss after pregnancy varies from woman to woman. Some women shed those extra pounds and snap back to their pre-pregnancy shapes in days. Others find that as it took about a year to grow a baby it takes another one to get their bodies back.
Anything within this time span is normal, so don’t worry if it takes a while to get back into your size 6s. Eating healthy meals and exercising regularly will help you get there.
Feeding: Eating for Two?
If you are breast feeding your infant it is important to remember you are still eating for two. It takes the body an additional 500 calories each day to sustain breast milk production; more if you are feeding twins or a particularly large baby.
Remember that getting those additional calories is not enough. 500 extra calories derived from chocolate and fried cheese may satisfy the caloric requirement but isn’t nutritious for either you or your baby.
Having feelings of being completely overwhelmed is perfectly normal after delivering a baby. Another little secret is that feelings of disappointment and guilt are likewise common, especially among first time parents.
Give yourself a break and allow yourself to pass through these feelings. Getting enough sleep and moderate exercise will help you feel more even keeled. The best medicine is to hold and cuddle that new baby of yours.
If these feelings persist, or you feel apathetic about the baby it could be more serious than simple baby blues and you should seek help from your spouse, a trusted friend or your doctor. Remember, post partum depression can affect you after any deliver, not just your first.
Return to ‘Normal’
If the reality of the postpartum experience is not what you expected and sends you reeling, it is a good idea to slow down. Post birth recovery is not the same for every woman; just because your friend was up and about two days after having a baby does not mean you will be.
Giving yourself time to heal does not have to mean that you are sentenced to drudgery and misery, so don’t get dressed for two weeks, but take that time to really enjoy your new baby. Sleep when she sleeps or play with him when he is awake. You will feel back to normal in no time, and you’ll be really glad you allowed yourself the time to bond with your baby as your body healed.