Get ready for a whole new body
This is one for the mothers – your bodies have gone through something huge, and this can really take its toll in the first week after birth and beyond. There’s the jelly belly where there used to be a lovely bump; breastfeeding mum’s nipples can be sore and leaky and the first poo after birth is never much fun.
If you’ve had perineal tears or a caesarean scar, this can cause pain after birth too, but it will get better. Don’t be afraid of asking for help and you may have Health Care Professionals visiting you in this first week, so don’t hesitate to bring up anything you might be concerned about - there’s no such thing as a silly question.
Expect an emotional rollercoaster
‘I was expecting to be exhausted and planned to lie around in the first week, but actually I had periods of highs where I’d clean the house, then lows where I’d be crying over nothing,’ says Cherry, mother to two-year-old Ethan. ‘After a few days I realised I was all over the place and had lost a lot of weight, so I said no to visitors for a few days and just tried to really slow down. I think if I were to do it again, I’d be quicker to realise that I was stressed, which wasn’t what I was expecting.’
As a new mum your hormones can have an impact on how you feel, and of course, this time can be an emotional rollercoaster for partners too. It’s always a great idea to continue chatting to and checking in with each other about how you’re feeling. That might mean perking up your partner when they’re having a low day, but it’s equally important to share when you’re feeling down in the dumps too.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
One thing to bear in mind is whatever happens, go easy on yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff like household chores or baby paraphernalia.
‘I had Fearne three weeks before her due date and was genuinely panicked that we hadn’t finished buying all the right stuff,’ says Laura, mother to five-month-old Fearne. ‘But in that first week all you need is nappies, clean babygros and wipes. Everything else like monitors and changing bags can come later.’
Everyone’s journey is different. Ultimately, that first week will be a little bit of everything - incredible highs full of new love and lows stemming from exhaustion, hormones and probably a little bit of fear.
All we can say is - be kind to yourself, trust that things will settle and know that, already, you’re doing an amazing job. If you’re worried about any of the feelings discussed in this article please reach out to your local healthcare professional for support.