1. You will be SORE. Whether your baby/babies arrives via vaginal birth or cesarean birth, it will feel as though someone has taken a sledgehammer to your lower abdomen, pelvis and lady garden. It’s. Going. To. Hurt. It’s going to hurt when you walk. It’s going to hurt when you go to the bathroom (TAKE the stool softeners they give you!). It’s even going to hurt when you hold your baby at times.
The solution? Plan Your Recovery.
Here’s the thing to remember… experiencing childbirth is a remarkable strain on your body. It takes a significant toll and you need to plan for a significant recovery.
Think about it – if we are injured or need surgery, we expect a period of recovery. We expect reduced activity, additional rest and time to allow our body to heal. We plan to have family, friends, or doulas available to help take care of us. In the first 6-8 weeks after Baby arrives, your body is doing amazingly fantastic work to heal and when we expect to bounce back quickly or rush to return to daily life, we do our body a disservice. Your body has worked so so hard for the last 9.5 months. It deserves the time and space to heal.
Everyone needs to be mothered sometimes, even mothers.
2. Brand New Babies Play Tricks on Us: The first night in the hospital, Baby usually sleeps A LOT. You’re thinking, “oh, she is so sweet and look at me… I am already doing fantastic!” THEN, night #2 rolls around and Baby *realizes* they are no longer snuggled tightly inside their safe spot (inside you) and FREAK OUT.
Night #2 begins the period of time which we like to call, “Why the heck are you crying!?”
The solution? Swaddle, shush, bounce. Learn to read their early cues for hunger. Identify his different zones and get him to sleep before he becomes over tired. Almost all parents struggle with this at first.
The key is to learn how and WHEN to respond appropriately.
3. You’ll Learn the *Real* Meaning of Sleep Deprivation: The first 3 months of Baby’s life (often called the fourth trimester) is a time known to parents as “survival mode.” Meals need to be quick and easy. Showers are few and far between. And 2 hours is the new definition of a “long stretch of sleep.”
Remember the all-nighters you pulled in college studying for exams? It’s just like that except it lasts for days on end and now you’re responsible for a tiny human as well (and oh yeah, recovering from that huge strain on your body called childbirth too).
Babies don’t organize their sleep until approximately 4 months of life. That means there is no rhyme or reason and certainly no semblance of a schedule. Sleep deprivation is the most common side effect for parents living through this four month time period.
If night time is less than restful, your baby gets to sleep some more the next day. As adults, we still have to function at a basic level of competence during the day. Think about it… Your sweet baby is having all of her needs met.
How are YOUR needs getting met?
The solution? It’s a two-part answer. First, learn how to set the foundation for healthy sleep habits even as a newborn. By implementing some simple habits as a parent and repeating them daily, Baby starts to recognize and even anticipate when it’s time for nap and the big sleep. Additionally, starting off on the right foot could lessen the amount of time needed to get Baby back on track when those sleep regressions roll around.
Second, remind yourself (frequently) that this is a temporary life phase.
Like all other challenging time periods you’ve faced in your life, you handle it the best to your ability. When work is really crazy and you don’t have time to get groceries, let alone make dinner, you order take out. When you can’t get a full night of sleep for a few months, you call in reinforcements. Ever hear of a night nurse or a night nanny? Now there’s something better: a postpartum doula.
Schedule time for meeting your sleep needs and let a professional stay by your baby’s side while you get a full night of sleep.
4. You’ve Never Experienced a Love Like This Before: For some mothers, they’ve felt an intense bond with their baby before birth. For others it happens weeks or months after birth. But when it happens, it’s a feeling so new and so intense it blasts that whole first love experience Right. Out. Of. The. Water.
Your brain is creating new pathways. Your heart is bursting. Your body feels the drive to protect and it can only be described as primal. You now understand the deep deep connection a mother shares with her child. This is a desire to protect. This is unconditional love.