In the months of your pregnancy, most of your focus may lie with adjusting to your body’s changes and deciding how you want your doctor to carry out the birth procedure. But it’s also good to think about what to expect right after the birth of your baby to put your mind more at ease. These are some of the normal things you’ll probably see in the moments following delivery.
Your Baby’s Initial Behavior
You baby will initially need to make their adjustment to being in the open air by taking their first breath. Many newborns cry during this time, which can be helpful for getting out leftover fluid from their respiratory tract. Sometimes babies may have meconium, which is a thicker, green fecal substance mixed in their amniotic fluid. In those cases, your doctor will put a suction to your baby’s mouth to help remove this and allow them to breathe well. Don’t be surprised if your baby appears slightly blue at first, as it can take some time for their blood to circulate as they breathe. Besides crying, infants may soon fall asleep or want to feed after birth.
Umbilical Cord Cutting
As you probably know, cutting the umbilical cord is a necessary part of the procedure. Following birth, your doctor will immediately clamp the umbilical cord. However, they’ll usually wait thirty seconds to a full minute before cutting the cord. You can also request to hold your baby for a few minutes before proceeding. Following this, you could have either the doctor or your birth partner carefully cut the cord. If you elect to bank the cord blood, your doctor will collect it once the umbilical cord has been separated from your baby. Meanwhile, the delivery of the placenta will usually come within a few minutes after birth.
The Apgar Test
Doctors use the Apgar test to assess the health of your newborn, so it’s a normal part of what to expect right after the birth of your baby. The test consists of checking your child’s breathing, heart rate, skin hue, muscles, and reflexes. For each category, they’ll give your baby a score ranging from 0 to 2. The higher the score, the better you baby has performed according to the test. Most often, babies receive total scores between around seven to nine. If their score is lower than seven, this means that they may need additional attention in a newborn intensive care unit or from a nurse. Still, you shouldn’t worry if your baby scores below seven, as it’s common for healthy infants to score lower due to their bodies’ unfamiliarity with the new environment outside the womb.
Most importantly, after the birth of your baby, take some time to get to know them and bond with them using skin to skin contact. This is the beginning of your life together and you’ll want to remember every moment. Don’t feel pressured or rushed to do anything else but hold your newborn and spend time together.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.
Bladder control, sexual dysfunction, pelvic and lower back pain are common symptoms of pelvic health issues. But pelvic health shouldn’t be something we think of only when there’s a problem. Being proactive about pelvic health can help to avoid many long term problems. For expectant mothers, working on improving pelvic health during pregnancy can not only help during labor and delivery, but also in the postpartum period.
Find out more about the Train4Birth program from Dr. Monika Patel DPT, CSCS and how you can improve your pelvic health during pregnancy.
When my employers first asked me to specialize in pelvic health, well, I wasn’t so sure. At the time, I’d just finished my year-long orthopedic fellowship through the Institute of Advanced Musculoskeletal Treatments (IAMT) with some of the top manual therapists in the country.
All these thoughts and reservations went through my head- I didn’t want to specialize “too soon.” I’d just finished with 4 years of intensive learning and I wanted a “break.” I didn’t want the “emotional strain” I’d heard about when working in this field. I didn’t know exactly what it would involve. And, I was really super-super shy about anything remotely reproductive related and didn’t think I had the courage to talk to people about it.
So, I politely declined for 2 years and continued on with my mostly orthopedic caseload.
Until, I felt a pull.
Do you ever have those moments where something just keeps re-occurring in your life until, finally, you listen?
It was like that with pelvic health in my career. I decided to listen to what my employers had to say about how my skills might match the field they patiently had in store for me. There are so many times that we have to make decisions for ourselves or our families that we aren’t always sure of, that it felt almost nice to have a professional track with mentorship and guidance presented promisingly.
So, I decided to shadow a pelvic health therapist and was really amazed at all she knew and what she could help people with that literally no other healthcare provider could. Even midwives and OBGYNs don’t necessarily know the pelvic floor musculature by name or how movement or pregnancy truly affects the pelvis.
The therapist I shadowed did an internal mobilization of a soccer player’s coccyx that had gotten dislocated with a harsh fall. That teenager was unable to walk in the clinic herself without a wheelchair, never mind play her favorite sport, and was able to walk out of the clinic, independently, and pain-free following the 2 minute mobilization.
I was hooked.
As soon as my year long-training commenced, I was able to help people who’d had incontinence for 20+ years. I helped people who had stopped going out to have dinner with friends for fear they’d laugh too hard and leak regain confidence, control, and strength and actually join a supper club.
I was able to help men who’d been catheterized after prostate cancer regain their ability to pee again independently (which is linked to pride).
I was able to help a mother who had sustained a grade 3 tear during delivery of her baby heal postpartum without a trace.
And, just as my employers predicted, I loved it.
It felt refreshing, rather than daunting, to talk about the things less talked about and topics often ignored for far too long in the medical world. So, I decided to delve into another yearlong program in pelvic health. The pelvis really is such a keystone to the entire body’s musculoskeletal system that it started to seem negligent to ignore approaching any and all patients with this knowledge.
Sure enough, not only did the people I could serve expand, but the rate at which I was able to get anyone with, for example, low back pain better greatly improved. The body is so interlinked and if you, our your healthcare team, ignore the pelvis, that’s like running a race without ever tying your shoes.
What Does a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist Do?
You might wonder what else a pelvic health physical therapist knows or could help you with. Here’s a quick glimpse:
How to help prevent, identify, and treat the three (really four) main kinds of incontinence: stress, urge, frequency and/or a mixture of any of the above.
How to help protect and activate the 4 muscles that make up the deep core so that they all work together with good and almost subconscious coordination to avoid.
How to palpate all the ligaments and the 35 muscles that attach to the sacrum.
How to palpate and check function of all 3 layers of the pelvic floor.
How to assess the pelvic floor for internal trigger points.
How to teach people good bowel, bladder, and sexual function habits.
How to care for the pudendal nerve, the nerve that extends out from the sacrum and is in charge of innervating bowel and bladder structures.
How to make pregnancy, both pre and post partum, a much less fear-based experience.
Gosh, and so much more.
When it comes to postpartum care, countries like France literally subsidize what they call “perineal re-education”. (There’s a great essay by write Claire Lundberg called “The French Government Wants to Tone my Vagina”) because they know that even if women feel okay after birth, the inhibition of their pelvic health during pregnancy can cause (expensive and timely) issues down the road. So, it’s better for the overall healthcare system to preventatively invest in helping women heal properly postpartum than it is to wait until they are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s when gravity + pelvic floor sleepiness has already taken its toll and it’s much harder to fix.
I would take it a step further when it comes to preventative healthcare, and say that all women should have the opportunity for their body to be assessed for potential risk factors for ANY musculoskeletal condition from an early age…(but, that’s another blog topic).
Improving Pelvic Health During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a sweet spot in women’s’ healthcare journey. It’s a time where women are often extra motivated to create healthy lifestyle habits and change. It can also feel really empowering to care for yourself while pregnant. All expectant mothers should work on improving their pelvic health during pregnancy.
This is exactly why Train4Birth, the deep core exercises + education+ accountability/support program was born. It’s essentially the equivalent of having a PT (virtually) by your side throughout your entire pregnancy for $188 dollars. That’s a tremendous value –when the average cost of incontinence in the US is approximately $900 per person annually.
Plus, when it comes to resource management: 1) It can be easier to afford pelvic health care before you take (usually un-paid) maternity leave.
2) The cost of Train4Birth, which includes the information usually covered in about four in-person PT sessions, which would be about $600, is 1/3 of that cost.
3) It’s VERY hard to find time for self-care with a newborn. With the ability you start Train4Birth starting at any stage of your pregnancy gives you a jump start.
4) Plus, if you are all “tuned up” and the healthiest version of yourself going into labor, you’re less likely to experience instrument assisted birth or complications you have to deal with down the road.
There are a lot of premade pregnancy recovery programs out there, but, because all of our bodies are unique and what helps us truly recover will depend on a deep understanding of your individual movement history, your anatomy, and your specific connective tissue I’m a bit leery of any program that doesn’t also include a listening ear.
Regardless of how you decide to care for your body, mind, and soul, I just want to encourage all women that the pelvic floor and deep core is an essential part of our health. To care for your pelvic floor is to care for both your present day and future self.
Dr. Monika Patel is a mom + DPT + fitness pro + environmentalist + lover of all things peanut butter. I love making people’s Birth-Days extra special and have to reign in my tendency to dream about RV life. I love to hear people’s stories. I don’t love to cook. My car usually has crumbs on the bottom of the floor. And I hope to make even just a tiny dent in improving the world.
Feel free to reach out with questions or thoughts at email@example.com
You’ve heard of birth plans, but making a postpartum plan can be equally if not more important.
A postpartum plan is a way to help you prepare for those first few months after giving birth. Many women create birth plans in anticipation of their labor and delivery, but often neglect the postpartum period. This can result in sleep deprivation, breastfeeding problems, added stress and may even contribute to symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety.
Here’s how and why you should create a postpartum plan for the months following your baby’s birth.
The postpartum period is often called the fourth trimester and usually considered the first three months after giving birth. However, women require different amounts of time to recover after childbirth. The physical and hormonal changes usually regulate within six weeks, but mental health can sometimes take longer. Whether it’s your first or your fourth child, it can be hard to predict how long you will need postpartum care until the time actually comes.
The birth of a baby is like a mass signal to all our family and friends that it’s time to come and meet them. But too many visitors at once can interrupt the postpartum healing process. You may either feel excited to show off your new baby, or anxious about too many people crowding them (and you).
If you’ve given birth in a hospital, then there are usually specific rules that visitors must follow and this should also be the case when you are home. Try to schedule specific times for visitors, and don’t have everyone come all at once. Make sure visitors are washing their hands before holding or touching baby and don’t let anyone to kiss your newborn baby. Don’t allow visitors to simply “drop by” because that could interrupt your sleep or breastfeeding routine. And if at any time you feel anxious or overwhelmed by your visitors, feel free to ask them to leave or excuse yourself to your your bedroom. You’re not a party hostess.
Communicate these rules to your family and friends, even if it feels awkward. Adding this into your postpartum plan and letting them all know your wishes ahead of time can make it easier. Once baby arrives, the excitement can often distract everyone from the plan, so make sure to remind them in a text, e-mail or a printed note on the front door. No one should feel offended by your decision to focus on your postpartum health.
Take a look at a calendar and figure out your postpartum timeline. When will you be 2 weeks postpartum? Baby will need a check up with their pediatrician. What date will you be 6 weeks postpartum? That’s when you will need your checkup. The postpartum period can often go by quickly, so knowing the dates that you hit these milestones ahead of time can help you stay focused on your recovery.
If you can, try to book all of your appointments in advance. Doctor’s offices can sometimes be difficult to get into, and a lot can change in just a few days during the postpartum period. If you know that you have an appointment coming up, you can prepare any questions that you have ahead of time. Making notes of things that you want to discuss can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
And don’t forget to include any appointments with lactation consultants, the public health nurse, newborn photographers, for religious ceremonies, to get government paperwork or passports done, etc. When you think about it, there’s a lot that needs to be done to welcome a new person into the world.
It really does take a village to raise a child. Many moms these days tend to go it alone thanks to our ever busy lives. But historically and in many cultures today, it’s unheard of for a new mother to tackle the postpartum period on her own. Asking for help during the postpartum period does not make you any less capable of a mother. If anything, it’s one of the smartest things you can do.
Make a list or schedule for those who are available and willing to help you out. Your spouse or partner is going to be helper number one but it’s understandable that they won’t be available 24/7 as most workplaces only offer minimal amounts of parental leave. Try to schedule additional help during the times they are not around. Parents, siblings, friends, neighbors are often more than happy to help you out – all you have to do is ask.
Your postpartum plan should be centered around getting rest. Rest is so incredibly important in those first few months postpartum. Regardless of how your labor and delivery went, all moms need to allow their bodies time to heal. A lot is happening inside of us that we don’t always see from the outside. So while making your postpartum plan, make sure to schedule in lots of time for sleep, naps and lying down with your feet up.
Moms tend to feel guilty when it comes to rest. The urge to cook and clean and take care of everyone else is a strong force within us. But rest is an important part of the healing process, both physically and mentally. Thankfully, newborns are pretty cooperative when it comes to this. Even if you’re not “sleeping when baby sleeps” make sure that both you and baby are getting enough sleep.
Once you’ve enlisted help to take care of all your other responsibilities, spend as much time as you can in bed with your baby.Focus on breastfeeding, have lots of skin to skin contact and sleep whenever baby does. This will also help with the bonding process, which can help with symptoms of the baby blues or postpartum depression.
Plan Out Your Meals
A healthy diet is essential to healing in the postpartum period. What type of food you eat can affect breastfeeding, your postpartum body and your mental health. You shouldn’t have to worry about cooking during the first few weeks, so having prepared food ready should be an essential part of your postpartum plan.
Stocking the freezer with healthy meals is a common practice for many moms during the “nesting phase” of their pregnancy. This will ensure that you always have something hearty that can be ready with very little effort. Stock your pantry with healthy non-perishables that are easy to whip up, like canned meats or beans, soups, pasta, or instant oatmeal (great for boosting your milk supply.) Buy them little by little throughout your pregnancy so that you have a fully stocked pantry by the time baby arrives.
Create a list of some of your favorite healthy dishes that family and friends can cook and bring for you when they come to visit. The majority of people (especially veteran moms) love feeling helpful by bringing food, but you don’t want to end up with a bunch of casseroles that you’ll never touch. They don’t have to be full meals either, you can request some simple things like fresh fruit or vegetables, smoothies or sandwiches.
Or try a food delivery service. There are so many different ones available now. Many of them offer free dishes and trial periods which can hold you over during the postpartum period. Don’t forget to add gift cards to these services on your baby registry, they make great last minute or long-distance gift ideas.
Add in Light Exercise
Your postpartum body is very different than your pre-pregnancy one. Many moms are anxious to start dropping the baby weight and get back into shape, but postpartum fitness should be more about strength and wellness than weight loss. Once you’ve gotten the green light from your doctor or midwife, you can begin to add in light exercise to help your body recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Focus on your pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles do the majority of the work when it comes to pregnancy, labor and delivery. During the postpartum period, they will need some work to get them back into shape and reduce the risk of pelvic pain, urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. There are several light exercises you can do to strengthen them, including Kegels and pelvic lifts. Or you can invest in a pelvic floor training device to do them with ease.
Try low-impact workouts, like yoga.Postpartum yoga is a popular option and some places even offer mom and baby classes. Walking or jogging is another great option for moms, with local stroller walking groups popping up all over the place. Any kind of light exercise will help get you feeling like yourself again. But until your body is fully healed, it’s a good idea to hold off on weight lifting or high-intensity workouts.
Monitor Your Mental Health
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are one of most common complications of childbirth. Even if you are low risk, there are chances that you could get postpartum depression, anxiety or psychosis. This is something all mothers should be aware of and prepare for in their postpartum plan.
Don’t stay silent about it. Speak up if you feel like something isn’t right. Tell your spouse, your mom or best friend. Talk to your doctor or midwife. Call a postpartum support helpline. There are several different options available and it’s better to get help sooner rather than later.
A postpartum plan should be designed with you and baby in mind. Just like with a birth plan, make sure to communicate what you want with those who will be supporting you in the first few months. And, also like a birth plan, bear in mind that things may not always go according to plan. Your labor and delivery will have a lot to do with your recovery process. Make sure to leave room for adjustments as needed. Most importantly, rest, relax, and get to know your new baby!
Seven years. That’s how long I have personally battled postpartum depression. I’ve tried all kinds of different treatment options over the years and it regularly fluctuates between better and worse. There was a time in my life when I thought I was cured. But now I know better. I know that it will never go away. I have accepted that managing my mental health is going to be a lifelong journey.
Yes, postpartum depression can last longer than a year or more. Here’s what you need to know.
Postpartum depression is a form of a major depressive disorder that happens to women after they give birth. Something along the journey into motherhood triggers the brain to revert into a depressive state. Sometimes the cause is obvious, such as a difficult labor or a history of trauma, abuse or mental illness. In other cases, the cause lies much deeper and is harder to pinpoint. Regardless of the cause, a mental illness has now been triggered and that means it’s here to stay. While similar in symptoms, there are a few differences between depression and postpartum depression.
Hormones have a lot to do with it.
Creating a life is unlike any other event in the world. Women’s bodies go through immense changes that we can’t even begin to understand. We’re all too familiar with the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy, causing an expectant mother to feel everything from uncontrollable weepiness to pure rage. After giving birth, those hormones now have to work overtime to regulate themselves and it’s not an easy process.
The majority of women will experience some form of the baby blues, which is not a mental health disorder, but rather a normal response to the hormonal and environmental changes. It’s easy to blame all these new and scary feelings on the baby blues, but those only last for a couple weeks. Postpartum depression can begin anytime in the year after giving birth, and long after hormone levels have regulated.
Depression can be triggered by trauma.
In addition to those 9 months of changes, there is the trauma of childbirth. No matter what your labor and delivery story was like, it was traumatic on your body. Like a soldier going to war, you will come out of it a changed person. For some, their body adjusts to the trauma and they are able to move on, at least to some degree. For others, however, the trauma leaves it’s mark.
Bear in mind that what is considered traumatic to you, may not be considered traumatic to others. Just because you had a smooth delivery without any major problems doesn’t mean you’ve escaped unscathed. Birth has a way of uncovering deep feelings and vulnerabilities that we didn’t even know we had. Speaking to a therapist or using cognitive behavior therapy can help to discover the root cause of your postpartum depression.
Maternal postpartum care sucks.
There is no elegant way to put this, it just plain sucks. A lot of emphasis is put on prenatal care, but not nearly enough on postpartum care. Once a mother becomes pregnant, she is seen by a doctor monthly, then bi-weekly, weekly and sometimes even daily until she gives birth. Then there is a whole lot of commotion surrounding the birth and the 3 or so days afterwards.
And then she is sent home with a follow up appointment for 6 weeks later. She’ll have to haul that baby in to get checked out on the regular, but now that the baby is on the outside, her body doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Unless there is a physical postpartum complication, then she will get the care and attention she needs. But mental postpartum complications are never treated with the same sense of urgency.
What [actually] happens in the 4th Trimester?
Here is a woman who’s physical, mental and emotional state has just gone through the roller coaster ride of it’s life. She is in pain everywhere as she’s literally just been ripped open and had a part of her removed. A brand new person is now completely dependent on her for their survival but there is a major communication barrier.
Despite feeling the highest levels of exhaustion, she’ll be unable to sleep for longer than a 3 hour stretch… for months. The pressure to breastfeed weighs heavily on her. She will feel vulnerable, exposed and judged every time her baby is hungry, and that will be a lot. She will lose all confidence in herself as a woman if she is unable to produce enough milk.
The first three months postpartum (or 4th trimester) should be the time when a mother rests and gets to know her newborn. She should have support and help. She shouldn’t need to worry about anything other than herself and baby. But this rarely happens. A lot of people will “visit” but only the odd few will actually be of any real help. Many mothers even have to return to work before they have time to properly heal.
Years Later and Still Depressed.
When we take into account the terrible state of maternal mental health care, it’s no wonder that more and more women are battling depression long after giving birth. Postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders should be treated with much more respect. Mothers need time to heal, they need help and proper support. The level of care for a new mother should be just as important as it is for a newborn baby.
But the blame is not solely on the health care system. Take my story, for example. I am fortunate that I live in Canada and was able to take an entire year of paid maternity leave. I also delivered by midwives and the postpartum care that I received from them was far superior to anything I got in the hospital. They came TO. MY. HOUSE. for days and weeks afterwards just to check up on me and baby. They stayed for hours and drank tea and helped me breastfeed and changed diapers. But I still got postpartum depression, despite all of that.
What it comes down to is that mothers need to take better care of themselves. They need to understand the importance of rest and accepting help from others. And most importantly, they need to speak up if they feel like something isn’t right.
There is no cure for postpartum depression. Treatment will make the symptoms manageable but it will never go away.
This will be my seventh year fighting against postpartum depression, so I can confirm that this is a long term battle. But I say this not to make you feel even more depressed, but to encourage and inspire you. Talk to you doctor, fight for your rights, demand better treatment and speak up about postpartum depression to everyone who will listen.
Most importantly, seek treatment. With the right treatment, you can live symptom free for the rest of your life. All it takes is that first step.
A lot of new mothers talk about their lack of confidence and self-esteem following the birth of their child, so it’s essential to address the subject and help them. Contrary to what the recent pictures of Kate Middleton holding baby Louis in front of the hospital, your body doesn’t spring back to its normal shape and energy levels in no time. So, don’t be too harsh on yourself if you feel it’s taking ages to get back to your usual self. It’s entirely normal.
Here are a few reminders to boost your self-esteem in the postpartum period.
Love your new self
A lot of young mothers can’t help but look in the mirror and feel less desirable after birth. Ultimately, your body went through enormous changes – giving birth is nothing to take lightly – and you now need to look after a small baby. So, yeah, you look tired. Your complexion is dull – but how could it be otherwise in those circumstances?
You can leave the baby with your parents or your partner and allow yourself some much-deserved self care time. Spend the day getting your hair or nails done, visit a spa or seek beauty brow care from Lustrous Permanent Beauty. Go on a shopping spree for some new clothes or shoes. It’s not a matter of making yourself more beautiful than you are – you are already beautiful. It’s about helping yourself to see past the mask of tiredness. Remind yourself to take care of yourself.
Meet other mommies
Having a baby is both a wonderful and stressful experience, regardless how much you wanted to become a mother. Sometimes, you need to hear reassuring words about your baby, or you may want to receive tips from experienced mommies. That’s precisely why it’s so important to connect with other mothers, either through childbirth classes or even online.
You’ll find it great moral support when you’re going through the first steps of parenthood. It’s normal to wonder if you’re doing everything right or to ask other moms for advice. Finding out that you’re not alone can also improve your self esteem as a parent. So enjoy the mama wave of love and understanding.
Be realistic, your body needs time and so do you
Ignore the VIP photos in the magazines or the comments from friends who don’t have children. Postpartum recovery takes time, in fact, it can take 6 weeks or more for a normal birth, and up to 12 weeks for a C-section. So there’s no point blaming yourself for your lack of fitness after the birth. Self-depreciation and the difficulty to accept their post-pregnancy body drive a lot of new mothers into depressive moods. It’s crucial you remember to be patient with your body and with your mind.
The bottom line is that as much as you need to embrace motherhood, you can’t deny yourself the right to be a woman with doubts, fears, and worries. It’s okay not to feel like a perfect mommy at first, and it’s totally normal to lose a bit of your self esteem. Take the time to look after yourself, physically and mentally. You’re worth it!
If you’re not familiar with the term precipitous labor, it means a labor that lasts less than 3 hours from the start of the first contraction until the baby is born.
It is sometimes referred to as a precipitate birth or delivery, rapid labor, fast labor or a plain, old speedy delivery. While many women who have NOT experienced a precipitous labor might think this sounds like a blessing, it’s not all it’s chalked up to be. For more information on that, you can read my post Precipitous Labor: The Traumatic Truth About a Speedy Delivery.
It’s common to experience a precipitous labor for a second or subsequent delivery, but having one with a first child is pretty rare (like 3% rare). The time frame for recovering from a precipitous labor, however, isn’t different from any other postpartum recovery.
Here’s some important information that moms need to know about recovering from a precipitous labor.
Recovering from a precipitous labor is… well… precipitous.
That’s right, a fast labor usually means a fast recovery as well. But don’t start hating on us precipitous laborers just yet. While laboring quickly generally means less physical trauma and fatigue, it’s not without it’s own set of dangers as well.
Example 1: Tearing
The whole point of moving slowly through the different phases of labor is to help our bodies stretch and prepare for the giant watermelon we’re about to push out of it.
But with a precipitous labor, our body has less time to warm up for the big push and can result in some pretty bad tearing. Usually there isn’t time for an episiotomy, so the degree and direction of tearing can be unpredictable.
Recovering from a precipitous labor can often mean stitches down below. This makes for a very uncomfortable postpartum recovery period (speaking from experience). There are several different home remedies available, but ice will become your best friend.
We’re all supermoms and the faster we can get out of bed after giving birth and back to our regular routine – the stronger we are, right?
We may feel GREAT immediately after a short labor, but that doesn’t mean that our bodies have completely healed. Recovering from a precipitous labor takes just as long as recovering from a non-precipitous labor. The first few hours, days, even weeks after giving birth are essential to the healing process and should never be rushed.
There are several parts of the postpartum recovery period that do NOT occur precipitously.
The uterus needs to shrink back down to it’s normal size and that process can take up to 6 weeks or more. As the uterus contracts back to it’s normal size, some women experience cramping (similar to menstrual cramps), especially while breastfeeding. However, some women do not feel any cramping or discomfort at all.
Everyone experiences it differently, but for me, it was severely worse than the labor pains, and got more intense after each delivery. I was given drugs for the pain, but since I was breastfeeding, I turned to essential oils and heat (both heat bags and stick-on heat pads) to help me get through it instead.
Whether you feel it or not, the uterus is still contracting and will need plenty of time to shrink back down.
Skin to Skin Contact
Stay in bed with that baby! It might be tempting to get up and do things because you feel great but the skin to skin contact in the first 24-48 hours is essential to bonding, breastfeeding success and can help ease symptoms of the baby blues and postpartum depression.
Regardless of where you spend those first few hours after birth, whether it’s a hospital, birth center or in your own home, just stay in the bed and hold that baby for as long as you can. Skin to skin bonding is an important, but often skipped part, of recovering from a precipitous labor.
Don’t underestimate the benefits of skin to skin contact for both mom and baby.
Just like during pregnancy, a postpartum spike in blood pressure can be dangerous. Roughly 24 hours after giving birth to my second child, I experienced something I had NEVER experienced before in my entire life – high blood pressure. I had resumed all my normal activities less than 12 hours after giving birth to her and because of that, my body didn’t have time to heal. In addition to the high blood pressure, I developed a fever, severe headache, nausea, swollen hands and feet, blurred vision and dizzy spells.
It’s called postpartum preeclampsia and it’s rare for women who did not experience preeclampsia while pregnant. Thankfully, some rest helped my blood pressure regulate and I didn’t develop any further complications or need medication but it can become quite serious if left untreated.
Those hormones will be in full swing after giving birth. Recovering from a precipitous labor needs to occur mentally and hormonally as well. For months your body has been working hard to maintain two humans and now it has to adjust back down to one. The baby blues affect nearly 80% of all mothers postpartum, so it’s something to prepare for after giving birth, whether or not you’ve had a precipitous labor.
Hormonal imbalances, unfortunately, don’t often work themselves out precipitously…
Let me be clear when I say that there is no known link between precipitous labor and postpartum depression. Many believe that a traumatic labor can lead to postpartum depression but precipitous labor is not always a traumatic experience. In fact, many women who have one really DO feel lucky and blessed that they were spared a long labor and delivery.
In my own, personal postpartum depression story, I talk about how I rushed through my recovery with my second child and eventually wound up getting postpartum depression. I can’t say for certain that it had anything at all to do with my mental state, but I DO regret rushing my postpartum recovery period.
Whether your precipitous labor experience was traumatic or not, make sure to know the warning signs of postpartum depression in order to be prepared.
Everything happens so quickly when it comes to having kids.
There are moments and memories that we can hold onto and savor each second of – and there are some that we have no control over. While we may not be able to choose whether or not we have a precipitous labor, we CAN choose not to rush our recovery. Just like anything with motherhood, remember to take care of yourself and give yourself enough space and time to heal. A mother’s physical and mental wellness should always be high on the list of priorities.
I’ve given birth to three kids, experienced three similar pregnancies, labored through three natural, drug-free births, but ended up with three very different postpartum recovery periods…
What’s the difference between the baby blues vs. postpartum depression? It’s a question that many mothers have asked themselves because it’s hard to know for sure if you’re suffering from a maternal mental health disorder or not.
The baby blues is not an actual mental health disorder, but a common experience in the early days postpartum, however some women don’t experience it at all. Postpartum depression is often explained away as a bad case of the baby blues when, in reality, it’s much more serious.
To help end some of the confusion, here’s what it felt like first hand.
The Baby Blues
Shortly after the birth of my first child I experienced symptoms of what I believe were the common baby blues. They didn’t last long and they didn’t disrupt my life (much).
The mood swings were my first indicator. I remember watching my husband interact with the baby while our two dogs sat at his feet watching. I thought about how the dogs had no idea how much life was changing and I instantly burst into tears. I’m not usually a sensitive or emotional person so this was a sure sign to me that I was experiencing some type of hormonal imbalance. It was very similar to the mood swings I experienced during pregnancy. [Try tracking your moods with a printable mood tracker]
The sleep deprivation added to my emotional state. The way someone would feel after staying up partying all night long (which may or may not be a familiar feeling for me *wink wink*). I felt irritable and edgy but sleep, when I could get it, was welcome and helped to alleviate the stress. [Keep track of how much sleep you’re getting each night].
My brain was foggy and I was easily distracted. The “mom brain” was probably one of the hardest symptoms for me to manage as someone who prides themselves on having a great memory. Suddenly I couldn’t multi-task because I would forget what I was doing in the first place. I wrote down absolutely everything in a log book, significant or not, in a vain attempt to remember everything.
I felt an overwhelming urge to protect him and I worried a lot about everything he did. I worried about holding him too much, or not enough. I worried about the way others were holding him. I worried about his diaper being put on properly. I worried about such small and insignificant things (in addition to all the normal motherhood worrying like how much he was eating, pooping and sleeping). [Document your worries in a worry workbook]
I didn’t bond with the baby as much as I thought I would. I spent a lot of time talking to him but the lack of a response discouraged me. I wasn’t absolutely head over heels in love with him the way motherhood is portrayed in the media, but I didn’t feel anything negative either. I was just so tired and still adjusting to this new lifestyle.
We didn’t get out of the house much at first.I was extremely overprotective of him and convinced that he would contract bad germs from strangers. Aside from worrying, I honestly just didn’t feel like leaving the comfort of my own home.
It eventually went away on it’s own. Similar to a really bad case of PMS, I started to feel “normal” again. I didn’t cry at the mere thought of something sad and I couldn’t wait to get out of the house and socialize. By the time he was 2 months old he was smiling, making eye contact and interacting and I did fall head over heels in love with him.
After the birth of my second child, things felt a little bit different. That first baby that I didn’t bond with? Well he was two years old now and the absolute center of my world. So for the first couple months, things were monotonous and scheduled and boring – as long as the baby was concerned, at least.
She had basic needs and I didn’t try too hard to bond with her. I figured it would happen eventually, so I didn’t put too much pressure on myself this time. The first two months after her birth were extremely busy in my social life so I didn’t have time to stew over the fact that life as I knew it had completely changed.
But when the dust settled and I was left at home, alone, with a toddler and a newborn who wouldn’t stop crying – things changed…
I was tired and emotional but this time I couldn’t sleep no matter how hard I tried. Every time I closed my eyes I thought I heard the baby cry and got up to check on her. Sometimes it was 15 times in an hour but I couldn’t stop myself because I knew the one time I didn’t check on her would be the time something bad happened. If someone else offered to look after her while I took a nap, then I would lie in bed for 2 hours worrying if she was alright.
The mood swings were extreme and uncontrollable.As the weeks went on, I started to despise her. I blamed her for everything I was feeling. She felt my negative feelings and cried harder and longer which made me dislike her even more. But then I would think about how I’ve always wanted to have a daughter and I would suffocate her in love – until she started crying again. The slightest things could send me into fits of rage and I got offended and jealous very easily.
I was terrified to leave the house with her. I was certain she would cry and I wouldn’t be able to handle her and everyone would stare at me and think I was a horrible mother. So I stayed in my house where no one could judge me. I avoided contact with almost everyone.
And the worst part of all was that I lied about what I was feeling to everyone. I felt humiliated and inadequate and worthless but I hid it the best I could. I dressed the baby up in cute outfits and took cute pictures of her to post on social media. I posted captions about how much I loved having a baby girl and how all of my dreams had come true but in reality I just wanted to rewind life to a time before she existed.
Considering I went to hell and back with my last baby, I must have been absolutely crazy to have another one, right? The postpartum depression was forefront in my mind but this time I felt more prepared. I knew what to look for, and I knew that I needed to speak up if I felt something was even a little bit off.
The first time she was placed in my arms, I felt it. That immediate love that legends were made of. I couldn’t wait to hold her and I didn’t want to do anything else except just stare at her perfect face.
The early days with her were peaceful and calm – despite the sleepless nights. The other two children often played with each other and so I had her all to myself. The fact that she couldn’t talk back to me actually made me want to spend MORE time with her!
Trying to balance three children was definitely a challenge, and extremely overwhelming at times, but instead of being afraid and nervous and frustrated – I felt excited and determined to make the best of it!
I felt like I could control my mood. Even on days when she was extra fussy or I was extra tired, I always managed to stay calm and relaxed around her. I never felt a sad or negative thought about her. And she was a calm and relaxed baby because of it.
Initially I worried about how the older children would handle the new baby. But they never once showed any signs of jealousy towards her and completely welcomed her into our family. I cried more tears of joy in her first few months than I ever have in my life.
I worried about how much she ate, pooped and slept and whether she was hitting her milestones on time. Mostly because I was always comparing her to the other children. In an attempt to get things right this time, I asked a lot of questions, I sought a lot of help and I socialized as often as possible.
I took all three kids out as often as I could. It was next to impossible to manage all of them in public (and it still is) but I sure didn’t want to get stuck inside the house with them!
When it comes to the baby blues vs. postpartum depression vs. no postpartum mood disorder, I can’t say for certain what factors affected these different outcomes. It was only in hindsight that I was able to really identify the differences. But regardless of my three experiences, I feel the same kind of love for all three of my children. When I think about life with a newborn, I try my hardest to reflect on the happiness of my last one, but will never forget the darkness that came before.