Congratulations you are parents of a new human being. This totally helpless little body you are cradling in your arms. How precious is this little one?
So often during pregnancy we devour the “What to expect when you’re expecting” books. We read everything we can get our hands on about pregnancy. We have apps tracking the stages of pregnancy and we share with anticipation with all who are willing to listen, even the smallest of information on how baby is doing – at least I did and so did many other parents.
Now the baby is here and we have to contend with information, hormones and adjustment. In this article we are going to look at 3 important aspects of the first three weeks post-birth.
Hormones, hormones everywhere.
Directly after birth the person who gave birth will go through one of the biggest hormonal changes they will ever endure during their lifetime. Their body will have to rapidly adapt from nurturing a baby in utero, to nurturing a baby outside of their body. It is a hormonal cascade that triggers certain things within their body. From releasing hormones to ensure that there is colostrum and the breastmilk available for the baby to be nourished. It triggers the contraction of the uterus and a dramatic drop in Progesterone that was used to keep the pregnancy. All of these hormones are coursing through their bodies. It is easy to feel overwhelmed during this period of time and have little to no control over their emotional state.
Many moms are at their most vulnerable during these first few weeks. More parents suffer from PostNatal Depression, than what we really feel comfortable to admit. During these first few weeks PostNatal depression is also difficult to diagnose since it is normal for a new parent to want to cry at the drop of a hat, or to feel so overwhelmed that they almost feel helpless. If your emotional rollercoaster lasts for longer than two to three weeks, please contact your health care practitioner for support. Do not feel ashamed to reach out for help, you deserve to receive the support and help you need.
For more information on PND https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617.
Settling into the new normal
Baby is a whole human being, with so much to learn and is utterly and completely reliant on us to survive the big world outside the womb. Baby will want to be held and kept close at all times. Remember baby’s first 9 months of life have been inside a warm comfortable womb, hearing a heartbeat, never experiencing discomfort of bowel movements, cold or hunger.
Now outside the womb everything is new. Just like you are learning to adapt and change to this new life, so are they. They are learning to understand the world and for the first couple of months you as the parent are their world.
You will never spoil a child by feeding them to sleep. A baby’s body does not get tired of being held and cuddled all day long. They feel safe and content in your arms. Where they can hear your heartbeat, especially if you are the parent that gave birth to them.
Follow your baby’s cues. They will show you what they need. If you have a baby that insists on being in the arms the whole day, look into baby wearing, to free up your hands. You are their safe space. Be that for them. All too soon they will begin crawling, walking and running and leave your arms missing the cuddles of these early days.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when a baby only wants you. On the days when that happens, reach out to your partner, family or a close friend to come help you.
Lower your standard on meals and cleanliness. Your home will be clean soon again, there will come a time where you will be able to cook your amazing meals again. Accept that for now, the priority is to get to know your baby and for your baby to get to know you.
Growth Spurts and developmental leaps
In between day 10 and day 14, and day 19 and day 24, the baby will go through a growth spurt and a developmental leap. During these leaps, the baby will be more niggly and clingy and will demand more of your time and energy. Settle in with a good book, or tv series and snuggle with baby. There is nothing you can do to make them less niggly and clingy during these times, except lean into it and hold, rock and cuddle baby. It is normal for baby to need you during these times. It is uncertain for them and they will need you to ease them through these leaps.
So take it slow, take it easy and focus on you and your baby. You can never spoil a baby with attention and love. Be kind to yourself and reach out for help and support. The first three weeks is tough, it is rewarding and it is the beginning of a beautiful journey into parenthood.
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