Leah just turned 3 months old, and I finally feel able to tell you about my postpartum. Some say postpartum is 6 weeks, 40 days, or 3 months, but in my opinion postpartum lasts much longer. In my last postpartum period, I began to feel more “normal” after 9 months. Obviously, each woman will have a different experience. For me personally, it was this moment when I began to feel my body as mine again. Mia was already crawling, she could be a few hours without breastfeeding, my energy returned, my menstruation returned, my libido appeared again, and many etceteras.
“You are going to gestate for 9 months inside, and nine months outside.”
This postpartum period is a little different. It was much nicer this time in the first week, as the birth was a tremendously positive and empowering experience. In my first postpartum period, I couldn’t get out of bed for the first month. The traumatic experience of having suffered obstetric violence left me broken, both physically and emotionally.
This time I was already taking walks within a few days, going out to eat within 2 weeks, and within a month I was joining a yoga group for mothers and babies. It’s definitely been a nice postpartum. I am lucky to surround myself with many people who support me, both physically and emotionally. In the immediate postpartum period, the midwives, the doula, and our family came to accompany us and help us with what was needed. It’s amazing the impact surrounding yourself with the right people can have. The ones who care for you, when you can only take care of your baby. Let them pamper you, cook for you, clean you, and listen to you when you need to chat.
I’m not saying it’s being easy, don’t get me wrong. A postpartum period is never easy, but several factors define whether you will experience it positively or negatively. Now, between experiencing the emotional ups and downs, the new challenges of tandem breastfeeding, and learning to share my time with two little ones, it is a completely rewarding experience, and very intense at the same time.
There are some things that are happening to me again this postpartum, that no one ever talks about. But talking to more mothers, I understand that they are more common than I thought the first time. Here are some to name a few…
Dandruff. Moms often struggle with postpartum dandruff or dry scalp due to fluctuating hormones, physical and emotional stress, and not drinking enough fluids while breastfeeding (which causes dry skin and scalp).
Hair loss Suddenly and a lot. Do not panic. It’s really all the “extra” hair that grows during pregnancy. Normally we lose about 80 hairs every day, but during pregnancy, the hormones prevent this daily loss. As these hormones fall, the hair goes with them.
Postpartum brain. I can spend half an hour looking for the keys, and my husband will find them hanging in the same place as always. During pregnancy the brain physically changes 25%, this occurs to improve some cognitive functions to help motherhood. But the brain needs time to adapt to this change. So for this reason you may forget where you left your phone, but you will know exactly what your baby means with each cry.
I feel moments of loneliness. Even if I have many people around me, few will understand what I am experiencing. This is why it is so important to have or create a tribe of moms with whom to share experiences.
Tremendous appetite. The first days my body asked me for a lot of food to recover the energy spent during childbirth. Now he asks me for breastfeeding. I have breakfast twice, and snack all day.
THIS IS NOT A TIME TO GO ON A DIET.
Really listen to me. Your body will return, but right now you are expending a lot of energy daily. It is essential to eat well. I know it is difficult due to lack of time. But there are many quick recipes and healthy snacks to have on hand. Prioritize vegetable fats, such as avocados or nuts.
And finally, I feel an impressive protective instinct. Every day I am afraid that something will happen to my daughters, and I feel like I want to protect them with all my strength. This time I can live with these fears and understand that it is normal to have them, but in my first postpartum I had a lot of anxiety. I had panic attacks, I imagined extreme situations of danger, or that I was dying. This is clearly related to my traumatic birth. Thanks to therapy sessions with a perinatal psychologist I was able to understand where these fears came from, process them, and give them a place.
My objective with my postpartum story is to imply that the birth experience will greatly impact those first weeks and months, that the support network you will have is very important, and that you have to know when and who to ask for help. You cannot and should not go through postpartum alone. It doesn’t make sense nor is it natural. We need community, tribe, and people who have already experienced the same thing and who can guide us through this incredible journey that is motherhood.
Sources: Wikipedia & What to Expect.