December 3, 2011

The week after birth – what no one tells you

If you don't want to read the truth about the week after birth, skip this post, but I know there are women out there who will appreciate this information, because I know I would have and no one tells you about it.

  • You will hurt. No one tells you how much you will hurt the first week after birth, and you will continue to hurt into the second week if you had anything less than a perfect birth. But you heal fast. I was ok by day 9. Plan for this. Have people there to support you with food, cleaning, laundry, and errands those first two weeks. Don't plan on giving all of those tasks to your partner. It’s critical that you and be be nested up in the bedroom able to focus on yourselves and the new baby those first two weeks – up to a month if possible.
  • You will be leaky. Yes, I said it! And here comes the best kept secret advice anyone gave me…
  • Buy one (1) package of Depends women's projective underwear (yes, adult diapers, lol). You will thank the lords above for this advice when the time comes. Wearing these are so convenient and allow you to recover and care for your newborn without added worry. They are like a wearable pad—not anything as bad as you think, and it's only for a few days. Ok, there, I said it. You can thank me later.
  • You will need information. Have reference books/manuals for how to take care of a newborn no matter how much studying you did or classes you took – your mind will not be able to process like it did prior to birth, and you have never done anything like this before. So have some good reference books on hand. (The Internet is horrible when you need reliable information fast.) Click here to see the books I recommend.
  • You may need external help with anything from newborn care, feeding, sleeping, pain control, or post-partum depression. Do not not try to do everything alone with your partner. Do not be afraid to reach out to a family member or friend, a healthcare provider, a lactation consultant, a lactation support group, or a post-partum doula. Too many people think they have to do everything alone--it's crazy! It would be wise to make a list of resources prior to having the baby, so that you don’t have to rack your brain trying to figure out who to call after the baby is born. But whatever you do, reach out to someone for any need - large or small. Anyone who has had a kid and caring service providers will bend over backwards to support you. They know how critical the first month is after birth. And just a little tip or encouragement here and there can help a lot, so reach out. Click here to see some great resources in Denver.
  • You will be waking up every 2-3 hours. It’s normal and can be debilitating. And it take its toll. But it will end. If you and your partner need sleep to be able to function, there are strategies. Call a family member or friend. Our post-partum doula helped us put a routine in place for us to get sleep. Yes, it can get that bad, but again, everything gets better.
  • You may need to feed your baby formula if breastfeeding doesn’t get going right away, so have bottles and formula on hand from day one and a breast pump to help get milk going. I recommend having powdered formula on hand for emergencies, because it can sit in your pantry. Liquid formula is more expensive and has no shelf life. If you end up needing formula regularly while getting breastfeeding going, you can switch to liquid later. Do not be afraid to give your baby formula; there is no such thing as nipple confusion for the first several months per our lactation consultant. Our baby went back and forth for 2 months while we worked out many breastfeeding issues.