Motherhood is so full of unknowns. Rightfully so, or I don’t know that any of us would willingly embark on it. At least not without the full knowledge of the joy and fulfillment that comes along with it. Nothing will entirely prepare you but there are definitely some things that are helpful to know about beforehand. There are posts that teach how to prepare for birth with a birth plan (here’s a FREE one!), and checklists like the ones I offer, to help you practically prepare. However, the first week is a unique time in itself and there is just as much mental preparation needed as there is practical. So let me share 5 things to expect in your baby’s first week of life.
With all the warnings of sleep deprivation that people will throw at you, it seems odd that I’m telling you to expect your baby to be sleepy. But both are true really. Sleep deprivation for parents is to be expected, but newborns are also typically very sleepy. This can be both a blessing and a challenge. It’s wonderful because they’re usually fairly content to sleep in amongst the family noise and get passed around. However, sleepy newborns are notoriously difficult to get a full feed into.
Those are topics to discuss on a different day but for now, I’m giving you the heads up that your newborn will likely have his/her eyes closed more than open. 🙂 Personally, I love that stage because it means tons of scrumptious cuddles!
Here’s where the lack of sleep comes in. I remember people warning me about sleep deprivation and I understood that I would get significantly less sleep once a baby arrived on the scene, but what I didn’t realize is that it isn’t just the lack of sleep, it’s the constant disruption of your sleep that’s so difficult to handle.
Obviously, every baby is different but it is common for newborns to wake every 2-3 hours to feed. Some might even wake every 1.5-2.5 hours. It is difficult and exhausting but it doesn’t last forever. Seriously. Although, it will feel like that when you’re in it.
There are strategies to help you through this time but for the sake of this post, at least know to expect it and try to prepare for it as best you can.
Super common and super frustrating is a newborn who thinks that 2 am is a great time to just be wide awake. It’s happened with both of my children although it was more of a challenge with my second-born. Newborns are not born with an internal clock so day and night mean nothing to them. I go more into how to correct this with simple tips in my free email series. You can sign up for it below! 🙂
Okay, let’s focus on mama now. Whether you choose to breastfeed or not you will likely experience some level of engorgement. To be more specific, I’m referring to when your milk comes in.
It isn’t particularly comfortable and can be painful. A couple tips to combat it:
- Cabbage leaves – there’s a natural enzyme in them that helps to draw out your milk. It’ll help just enough to take the edge off (although they don’t smell great!). Just insert them into your bra.
- A soft bra – You need something that’ll supply a little support while being soft at the same time. And trust me, you’ll need nursing pads because you’ll be leaking all that milk that your body is now creating.
- Hand express – (**WITH CAUTION**) You can express a little bit. And I’m stressing the *little* because your body is now working on a supply and demand case. So, the more milk you express, the more your body will make. I personally used to express just enough so that my baby could get a latch.
The ‘experts’ have many theories as to why woman experience baby blues, but here is my personal theory. Around the 3-day mark, many mamas experience an overwhelming sense of sadness. It isn’t something that can be explained and you feel pretty guilty about it because you’ve just been given the most precious thing in the world, yet here you are feeling blue.
Hormones. They’re changing at an alarming rate after your baby is born. Around day 3 your milk starts to come in, you’re probably back home, and all those wonderful, happy hormones that pumped through your body after the birth of your child have started to wane. The sense of responsibility that you now carry begins to sink in and overwhelm you. Not to mention the lack of sleep.
Here’s my advice. Keep days 3 and 4 quiet. Only allow visitors that you’re comfortable with and will help you feel better. Allow yourself plenty of grace and the opportunity to have a good cry. There’s nothing wrong with how you’re feeling. It is normal and if you know to expect it then it may not be quite so difficult to get through.
The good news is that it only usually lasts a couple of days at most. If you’re finding that that is not the case for you then I would strongly suggest speaking with your doctor to further assess for postpartum depression. As I spoke about in THIS post, it is imperative to speak out about any struggles you might be having.
There are so many more things I could share and I may do another post similar to this in the future. What you will learn, is that you’re capable of so much more than you ever thought. And yet while that was true for me, I also learnt exactly how much I needed God’s love for me and my children because as capable as I was, there was also so much that was beyond my control.
You’ll figure it out and you’ll be stronger for it! All the best with your upcoming journey into motherhood.
Until next time!