Much like during pregnancy, the postpartum recovery period comes with quirks and challenges that no one tells you about. You’re probably feeling tired now that you’re sharing the same sleep cycle as your little bundle of joy. If you’ve been wondering why your long, luscious locks have started falling out or why your feet are still swollen, these are perfectly normal postpartum symptoms. Here are other challenges you may not have expected.
For most new moms, feeding your little one seems to take up most of your thoughts and efforts. Breastfeeding is ideal so your baby can get all the health benefits that come from mother’s milk—a breastfed baby is less likely to get sick, after all. That’s why 77% of moms breastfeed their babies.
However, if you’re in the 23% of new mothers who don’t breastfeed, there’s no reason to feel ashamed. One of the postpartum issues no one tells you about is that some moms don’t produce enough breast milk to feed their babies. Some women also take medication that keeps them from breastfeeding, while other moms may just choose not to breastfeed. No one should feel judged or pressured to breastfeed. That is a choice only you can make.
Having Less Time for Self-Care
The postpartum phase can last up to six months. During that time, it’s crucial to sleep as much as you can and to also take time to care for yourself and for your mental well-being. The simple act of taking a nice shower or bath can be so restorative right now. Have someone watch your little one while they sleep so you can take a half-hour break to give yourself some nurturing.
There are other ways to nurture yourself at this time. The key is to be flexible. As you know, you probably don’t have more than 20 minutes before the baby needs you again, but there’s a lot you can do in 20 minutes. If you miss your mani-pedi days, you can schedule an express home manicure or pedicure visit or get a nice massage. If you’re dealing with swollen feet, a foot and leg massage can do wonders to bring some relief.
You can also use your short break to finally eat something without a baby in your arms. Maybe you’re missing your latte more than anything. Enjoy a decaf latte and your favorite slice of cake uninterrupted! Don’t feel guilty and relish your time. If you have other kids in the house, you’re modeling a good example of the importance of self-care for your kids to follow.
The Baby Blues
Now, let’s talk about the baby blues. During pregnancy, you probably read everything available about pregnancy symptoms, how to take care of your kids, what types of food allergies are most common, and even how to detect vision problems or other issues, but few moms know the signs of postpartum depression.
About 70 to 80% of moms develop some form of depression. You may feel emotional and cry easily, have trouble sleeping, or have trouble concentrating. It’s called the “baby blues.” It’s only normal, considering you just gave birth to a baby, and you and your body are adapting.
One of the best cures for the baby blues is to get outdoors. If the weather is good, go for a short walk with your dog or sit out in your garden for some sunshine. Believe it or not, a little sunshine is like taking a happy pill! It’s the best way to get your dose of vitamin D. Just 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine per day can boost your vitamin D levels to help you sleep better, lift your mood, and lower your blood pressure.
In some cases, however, a walk outside does nothing for your overwhelming feelings. Mommas who feel intense emotions such as heavy sadness or grief may be suffering from a severe version of the baby blues. This is what is known as postpartum depression.
Other symptoms of PPD are trouble bonding with your baby or wanting to avoid your friends and family. You may feel that you’re not a good mother and suffer from anxiety or panic attacks. If you feel overwhelmed, consult with your doctor or postpartum doula right away for help. PPD is treatable. With some professional help and lots of support, you’ll get through it.
Hang in There and Ask for Help When You Need It
Navigating childbirth isn’t easy, but believe it or not, the postpartum symptoms no one warned you about will soon pass. Don’t forget to care for yourself, too. Ask for help when you need it. Soon enough, you’ll be able to enjoy time with your little one without all the symptoms!
Magnolia Potter is a muggle from the Pacific Northwest who writes from time to time and covers a variety of topics. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her curled up with a good book.
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