Postpartum hormones: 2 Weeks – 14 Days – 336 Hours Part 2
Welcome to Birthing Gently’s monthly blog. Last month, we explored the numerous changes rapidly happening to you and your beautiful new baby, two weeks after you birthed this lovely little human being. For some moms, and dads, these past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activities, learning, and maybe even a few tears. For other moms, these 14 days have been a roller coaster of emotions; laughing and relishing these moments with your teeny bundle of joy, then the next moment you crumble into a heap of blubbering, snotty-nosed, splotchy-faced tears and your partner is looking at you in amazement, “But I only said you looked a little tired…”
Or maybe you have become a combination of everything; you’re tired, you’re weepy, you’re ecstatic, and even feeling a bit of that ethereal “this mini-human grew inside me and I can feed her too! I am Mother Earth…” And omg, your boobs have a mind of their own, and apparently this babykins does too! And what’s up with this round belly that once housed a “baby-growing nest”; is it ever going to shrink or are you destined to sport a goddess-like full belly forever? Not that you are even contemplating pilates or major menu changes at this point, but you would like to start wearing some of your pre-pregnancy jeans.
Not to worry, Fair Mommy, your body is changing even as your baby does. Your uterus, which grew to about the size of a watermelon while you were pregnant, will begin shrinking to its pre-pregnancy size. You may notice that you still feel some mild cramping as this happens, sometimes while you are feeding your nurseling. Your body will be adjusting to changes in hormones, blood volume, and center of gravity. You may notice that your “baby belly” is shrinking in size. Maybe those pre-pregnancy jeans don’t have to go out in the trash. By doing Kegel exercises, you can help your vagina regain muscle tone and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. (Should we call it a cute name like “vajayjay”, which seems to be a fave these days? It’s up to you. After all, it is your body!) You had no idea you were so…well, that you could…stretch open quite so wide. Surely your baby‘s head was the largest head any woman has ever pushed out, even though the nurses reassured you that his head was completely normal sized. And maybe you laughed and woops…a little pee leaked out. It’s okay, it happens to quite a few new moms. Do your Kegels! Of course, if you have more concerns about it, please call your care provider.
You may overhear your significant other speaking to his/her mother on the phone. The conversation goes something like this, “She’s so moody, Mom! A crying jag…no, not the baby, her! A crying jag one moment and then she is overjoyed the next. Emotional outbursts are becoming rather common around here. I don’t know what to do…nothing makes her happy! We’re running out of Kleenex!”
“I can hear you, ya know!!”, you fiercely whisper from the other room, not wanting to wake the sleeping babe in your arms. But then you stop and ponder your S.O.’s words. You have been a bit more, well, a lot more, sensitive since your baby made her arrival. Your best friend lovingly warned you about these mood swings. Hormonal changes, lack of sleep, meeting this needy new tiny person’s constant needs, and adjusting to motherhood can all contribute to these “up and down” swinging moods. She said you might even feel a little blue, crying over things that would normally not bother you. These “baby blues”* usually begin a few days postpartum and last a few weeks. You may feel anxious, irritable, overwhelmed, worried about your “mothering skills”, and maybe even wondering if motherhood will ever feel better than it does right now.
The good thing is you are not the only mother to experience these feelings. These “baby blues” will eventually go away on their own. Reassurance, support from family, friends, and maybe even a postpartum doula, rest, and time can help ease the blues away. You pick up your phone and call your friend. Maybe she would be willing to remind your S.O. that you need to be heard, encouraged, given “permission” to care for yourself without feeling guilty that you are putting your needs first. These reminders may be just what your S.O. needs to hear. Remember, that person is going through some pretty major changes as well, perhaps feeling sleep deprived, overwhelmed, and even frustrated due to just not being sure what exactly to do for you. Life before Baby was made to fit around your schedules; suddenly, everything revolves around the newborn, as it should be. Babies cannot be “scheduled” or “put on an agenda” to fit the life you both once led. It just does not work that way. Your teeny human is now your number-one responsibility and working to adjust your lives to fit his needs becomes your priority.
Maybe you have noticed your skin too is “a bit moody” lately. Is that a…pimple on your chin?? You enjoyed perfectly clear skin throughout pregnancy. And those lovely hormonal changes (again, with the hormones!), unavoidable stress, and fatigue can affect your skin. Some of your friends who had acne during pregnancy found that their skin cleared up postpartum. Your stretch marks, or fondly referred to as “baby lace”, that bloomed on your body during pregnancy, are getting lighter. You will always have them, but they will get less noticeable with time and serve as a beautiful reminder of the incredible work your body performed during your pregnancy. Pondering this thought, you realize this has truly been a life changing event, a miracle, a blessing.
And then you look down at this tiny, amazing person peacefully snoozing in your arms, all warm, cuddly, and smelling delicious. It’s only been 2 weeks, only 14 days, only 336 hours since this perfect baby was placed skin-on-skin on your chest. And it has been worth every single second of each and every minute that you gaze into each other’s eyes. The purest love of all…Take a deep breath and enjoy, Mama. You’ve got this!
See you next month!
*If the “baby blues” feeling does not go away on its own in the first few weeks postpartum, or you find that you’re feeling worse rather than better, please call your caregiver and tell her about your symptoms. You may be suffering from a more serious problem that requires treatment by a professional, postpartum depression. Your care provider can give you a referral for help. Please search out professional care. If you think you might hurt yourself or your baby, or if you feel incapable of caring for yourself or your newborn, please seek professional help immediately.