Our first week as a family of four has been pure bliss. This wasn’t my reality after the birth of our first child in 2017 so I’m soaking in the oxytocin-fuelled love that fills our home right now.
For anyone about to experience postpartum for the first time (or second, third or fourth times), I highly recommend getting your hands on these titles to prepare for life after baby:
- The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson
- The First Forty Days by Amely Greeven, Heng Ou, and Marisa Belger
- The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Oscar Serrallach
A slow start
I gave birth at home at midday on a Thursday. Friends picked our toddler up from daycare and he stayed with them overnight. Within 2 hours of giving birth I was tucked up in bed with a cup of sweet tea, eating lollies and staring at our beautiful girl.
We stayed in bed the rest of the night and most of the following day – pure bliss! I had tossed up whether to stay at a Birth Centre for a few days of postnatal care but staying home was the best thing we could have ever done.
We’ve limited visitors and our baby girl seems so content not being passed around from person to person, or changing environments.
I’ve also made an effort to do lots of skin to skin this week – something I think should not be limited to the time after birth. It feels so beautiful to strip baby and yourself down and just connect. You were their home for 9 months after all!
I prepared to feel much the same as I did after delivering my son in 2017; think sore, swollen, stingy, foreign. Even after a really positive labour/birth – and no tearing or other issues – I still struggled to sit comfortably for weeks after. I even had to use an old Pump bottle to squirt water on myself!
I’ve been really lucky this time to be completely free from any of that. Within a couple of days I don’t even feel like I’ve given birth. Everything is so much easier, smoother and painless this time around.
Despite feeling amazing – and much like my old self already – I am focusing on taking everything very slow and being very easy on myself.
I haven’t exercised this week at all and have spent most of my time sitting in bed or on the couch feeding and resting. I’ve been using the Squeezy app and working to engage and reactivate my pelvic floor, using ‘The Blueberry’ technique Katie teaches. Holding for just one second was a challenge in the first 24 hours but now a week on and I’m comfortably engaging my pelvic floor for one second, and will move on to two seconds in the coming week.
I’ve been on Cloud 9 since giving birth but I haven’t experienced the super high highs, and subsequent lows, that I experienced after giving birth the first time. Not sure if it’s a “been there, done that” kind of thing or if I’m able to handle the fluctuating hormones a little better. I’m also managing Hypothyroidism with medication (and some subtle dietary changes) which I think has contributed to feeling so good – in comparison to how I felt in 2017 with an undiagnosed thyroid condition.
After reading The First Forty Days, I knew to prepare for postpartum life as much as I needed to prepare for birth. This is why I’ve really put my foot down for a slow transition into life with two kids.
Admittedly, this week has seen me have my own “witching hour” at around 5pm when I feel myself tear up and need to have a little cry. It’s so hard not being able to give myself fully to my toddler and I feel so guilty…while also feeling like the 2 year old is suddenly so full on and demanding and wouldn’t it be easier if we just had the newborn?! (…cue Mum guilt upon Mum guilt!)
What I’ve learned this week…
- It really does go so fast. Cherish the moments (not every moment because it’s lonely and exhausting in the middle of the night!) and look to find the positives;
- Allow yourself to be imperfect. There will be good days and then there will be bad days. You’ll feel like you’ve got everything under control and then you’ll feel completely out of your depth and clueless. Just take each moment, each day, as it comes;
- Slow down! Turn off the TV, put away your phone and just stare at your baby. Let someone bring you a cup of tea or a snack and just sit. Sit in bed all morning – you won’t ever have this time back!
“Rules” and goals with a newborn
Lastly, I’ve found it helpful to have a few small “rules” and goals set for myself this week – and as we move through the first six weeks.
- My goal has been to do a load of washing each day. Might sound silly but for me, this is what helps to make me feel like I’m not completely falling apart! Your goal might be to cook a meal, tidy away older children’s toys, make the bed, have a shower before 1pm…whatever makes you feel better. And seriously, I just want our clothes washed and dried…but it can sit in the lounge for days if it needs to.
- The “rules” I had this week were to limit visitors, rest whenever possible and to try and stick to some of the tactics in The First Forty Days (i.e. warm food and drink, easily digestible food etc.)
My partner will be going back to work in a couple of days and so the next few weeks will be all about learning how to fit a newborn into our routine. I know there will be more tears, frustrations and messy moments but I’ll continue to set a few small rules and goals and hope we land on our feet!
Advice welcome 😉