Postpartum Limbo

 
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4 week recovery check-in

You’ve made it through 4 weeks of parenthood! You’re starting to get a little more pep in your step and gaining confidence in this whole having a newborn thing.  You’re still not getting much sleep but it’s starting to feel like a new normal- especially since the baby did a longer stretch last night! You basically can conquer the world now... right?

 

Here are the 4 things to remember as you check-in with yourself around week 4 post-delivery:

postpartum bleeding

Postpartum bleeding is a great indicator on how you are healing internally. We’ve mentioned before that the lochia bleeding is from an approx 10 inch wound in your uterus where the placenta was attached. So no matter how you birthed your baby, you will have to heal from this. A few weeks after birth, we typically get the question- “My bleeding had nearly stopped and now it’s back and bright red again- is this my period? Is this normal?” We proceed by asking what they had done the day prior. Oftentimes we get answers like “I ran to target, walked around the mall, and then went for a long walk around our neighborhood.” The reasoning is then clear that it’s time for some rest and self care. So if you are finding yourself with bleeding that is fluctuating from brown to bright red, please take some time to kick your feet up and rest. Your head may be telling you that you can take on the world, but your body is telling you that you’re still recovering and needs to rest. It needs some more time.

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On the inside, you might be starting to feel like yourself again. Your nether regions are feeling less like they’re going to fall out. And you’re starting to grow used to all of the bodily fluids you’re dealing with from both you and the baby. But you sneak a peak in the mirror and don’t quite recognize yourself. Stop for a minute to admire yourself in this postpartum haze. You may not recognize yourself, but YOU are right there, as strong as ever. Your hair is a mess, you may have gone days without showering, you have fresh pink lines scattered on different parts of your body, and your belly is still a little swollen and puffy- but you’re here and you’re doing amazing things. So go easy on yourself and give yourself some grace. Pregnancy takes your body on an amazing and miraculous journey. Try to recognize the blessing you’ve been given and find strength in the changes your body has gone and will go through. As far as the technical stuff goes, remember that it takes about 6-8 weeks for your uterus to return to its normal size and it took 9 months to gain the weight from pregnancy give. Allow yourself at least 9 months to lose any weight that you are hoping to lose.

exercise

If you were active at all before or during pregnancy, you are probably feeling the urge to get moving at this point. Though you are constantly busy from caring for a baby, those early weeks postpartum include a lot of lying around and vegging out- AS THEY SHOULD! But now your brain is telling you that you need to get moving for mental stability. Your new curves and the socials you’ve been scrolling through are telling you that you need to fit back in your jeans, like yesterday. However, your actual physical body and the demands of your new baby are telling you that you still need to be resting and recovering…which leaves you feeling totally stuck in limbo! Unless you’ve had a clear conversation with your OB about returning to any kind of strenuous activity, let’s press pause and hold off until your checkup. Until you get the go-ahead, here are some safe alternatives until you’re cleared:

  • Early morning or after dinner stroll using a baby carrier or stroller. A little vitamin D will always help you feel more like yourself. Just remember to pair it with rest and hydration and listen to your body when it’s telling you it’s time to stop.

  • Stretching and very basic yoga poses that get the blood moving. You can even do these next to your baby during tummy time.

  • Use 5 pound hand weights to do arm exercises while sitting in a chair or on the floor.

 

mental health

Around three to four weeks postpartum, you should hopefully notice that your hormones are starting to settle and level off. You’re no longer crying at the drop of a hat, you’re resting more soundly when your baby is sleeping, and your mood feels more stable. Not perfect, but much better than the days and weeks immediately after birth.

Now parents and partners- LISTEN UP! It’s totally possible that what we’ve just described above, is the exact opposite of what you’re feeling. So let’s take a minute to do a mental health check-in and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I sleeping more soundly, or am I jumping and waking up from any small sound coming from baby?

  2. Am I gaining confidence in mine and my partners abilities to parent, or am I constantly feeling anxiety about the well-being of my baby?

  3. Am I returning to a normal state in the relationships I have at home, or do I feel edgy and snappy?

  4. Am I feeling open to the idea of visiting with friends and family, or am I feeling isolated and closed off?

If any of those answers are the latter, we just want to take a minute and encourage you! Having a baby takes a toll on all of your systems and it’s very typical to have some or all of these feelings. But we also want to help you recognize the difference between common vs. normal. It’s common to have some of these feelings, but it’s not necessarily normal. Consider starting a journal and document some of these extra feelings that you are experiencing for a couple of days. The next step would be to confide in a trusted friend, family member, or doula that can will check-in to see how things are going, as well as encourage you to speak to your doctor if they notice something isn’t quite right. 

Remember these four questions and check-in with yourself periodically. Perinatal mood disorders can pop up during pregnancy and up to a year or more post birth. There are a plethora of tools and options to help you through this. Speak up and reach out. And if you need someone to talk to and don’t know where to turn- please call us! No strings attached! We will talk you through your specific situation, and point you in the direction of someone who can quickly help you.

 

Now that you’ve made through the first few weeks of life and recovery after baby take a minute to look to the future. If you haven’t already, call and make your follow up appointment with your care provider! We will be diving into what to expect at that appointment along with what to expect once you’re given the all clear to resume extracurricular activities in the coming weeks. We’ll examine perinatal mood disorders further later on this summer.

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If you haven’t already you can find all of the previous postpartum posts linked below-

INDIANA BIRTH & PARENTING POSTPARTUM SERIES

Part 1- Preparing for Postpartum
Part 2- What Really Happens After Birth
Part 3- Post-Delivery Firsts
Part 4- What to Expect When You Bring Your Baby Home
Part 5- Baby 2.0
Part 6- Postpartum Support