The First Six Weeks Postpartum: Physical Recovery

Coming home with your newborn baby is an exciting and scary time. Whether you’re a first-time parent or a well-traveled expert, there is a lot to consider when it comes to your own recovery.

As an experienced Colorado postpartum and infant care doula, what I often see with my clients is that the reality does not match up to the expectation.

If you’ve been extremely active before and during your pregnancy, you may be surprised at the sudden changes in your body. While it takes about 40 weeks to slowly work your way up to being full-term, and all of the changes that come along with that, the changes after your baby is born can be much more drastic and unexpected, so let’s talk about that.

EXPECTATION: Back into my old jeans!

REALITY: While you very well may be among the genetically gifted few that can do this, often, it is simply not the case. The jeans may fit, but everything isn’t necessarily back in the “right” place yet. You may find that they go on, but they are tight. The large postpartum pads you’ll be wearing aren’t going to fit inside those skinny jeans, and those pads don’t get smaller for several days. If you have a cesarean birth, the incision may be irritated by restrictive denim. Save yourself from finding out, by bringing your favorite, comfy Lululemon or Soma jammies and set yourself up for relaxation and self-care.

EXPECTATION: I can’t wait to breathe, move, and sleep on my stomach again!

REALITY: The breathing will definitely get better, and probably improved a little before the birth of your baby. Movement is improved, but give yourself grace. Depending on how your birth went, how long it was, and the many different positions you worked through, you’re very likely to be sore! Tired achy muscles and joints can be common. Clients often say “I feel like I got hit by a bus!” If you had a cesarean birth, whether it was planned, or comes after any amount of laboring, you will need to let your body heal from abdominal surgery. A vaginal birth doesn’t necessarily mean no pain. Be prepared for vaginal soreness, swelling, and stitches that can make moving around difficult. If you had fluids during your labor or birth, you may find it takes a while for that extra swelling to go down. Postpartum contractions to get your uterus back down to its new normal size may make stomach sleeping uncomfortable for a while. Talk to your provider about medications that are safe to take and plan to rest a lot for the first several weeks.

EXPECTATION: My body belongs to me again!

REALITY: Newborn babies require around-the-clock care and attention. While it only lasts a little while, be prepared to have your little one with you around the clock. Breast and bottle-fed babies need to be fed often, and both come with their own set of exhausting challenges. When they are not being fed or changed, they want and need to be held. They are recovering from a big event themselves and it is a lot of work to adjust to being on the outside. Newborn babies sleep quite a bit the first few weeks. Take advantage of it, not by getting chores done, but by resting (even if you can’t sleep) when your baby sleeps. Whether you decide to breastfeed or not, there are a lot of uncontrolled hormones running through your body and your breasts may be sore and leak. Make sure you have a plan in place to get yourself comfortable. Whether you’ve had a vaginal or cesarean birth, most clients are surprised by the lochia after birth. It will be like a heavy period for the first several days and is a whole other physical issue to deal with, along with recovering from birth, adjusting to a new routine, and caring for a newborn around the clock. Get help from a professional postpartum and infant care doula from Colorado Mountain Doulas. They are trained and experienced in helping families adjust and take care of themselves when a new baby arrives. Our postpartum doulas in Denver, Colorado Springs, Castle Rock, and other surrounding areas are here to help you with your brand new Colorado baby.

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