Welcome to the best job in the world. The day of your baby’s birth is pretty amazing, even if you had a difficult delivery.
There is much to celebrate: not only was a baby just born, but so was a mother. This will be one of the happiest and most memorable days of your life. All of the sudden, you understand why your mother never forgets your birthday.
The First Hours after Delivery
If your baby is in good shape, they will probably hand him/her over immediately. This is a special moment that will seem totally surreal. While you are getting to know each other, a few things will happen -- and you may not even notice ANY of it. You will deliver the placenta and all of the other *gook*, usually within 20 minutes or so. You may get an extra dose of pit (pitocin) to encourage placental delivery. Your OB will also go ahead and stitch up your hoo-ha (if required) and otherwise tend to your undercarriage. If you have an epidural, you will continue to be oblivious to any of this, which is faaaaaaabulous. This is a great time to inquire as to.... the condition of things down thar. Ask your OB about the severity of any tearing, as they usually won't mention it to you unless you ask.
Right after birth, your baby will be very alert and ready for his/her inaugural snack. Take advantage of this time to nurse your baby before he/she succumbs to the post-delivery hangover. Nursing during this time will release oxytocin, which does a great job of expelling the placenta and contracting the uterus. Don't worry if you have no idea what to do, just do your best. The nurses can help you as well.
This heavy dose of oxytocin will also make you feel extremely and suddenly.... sleeeeeepy. I remember fighting just to stay awake. Hand the baby over to daddy if you're having trouble keeping your eyes open.
In the first hour, the L&D nurses will likely massage your fundus, which is the top of your uterus. This is just a belly massage that helps ensure that your uterus is clamping down as it should, to slow the bleeding and to break up any clots. This can be a little painful if you're not expecting it. During this time, you may also receive pitocin through an IV, an injection in your leg, or a suppository if the bleeding is heavier than they would like. From there, nurses will be checkin' up on that fundus every 2-3 hours or so. They do this to prevent bleeding complications, so be a sport about it. They put the 'fun' in fundus!
Also in that first hour or so? FOOD. You will be hungriest mother-effer this side of the Mississipp (whichever side you happen to be on). Here is where you get to order a dry turkey sandwich from the hospital menu. You won't even care that the food is awful because at this point, you're so hungry you could eat the placenta (sorry, I just threw up in my mouth).
A couple of hours after you deliver, you will likely be wheeled from L&D to a recovery room, unless your hospital has rooms that take care of both. If you had an epi, you still might not be able to feel your cold, lifeless, meat-like legs, so they may take you on a gurney to your new room. This is where you, your partner, and your baby will spend the next 2 nights (vaginal delivery) or 4 nights (C-section delivery), unless some shit really goes wrong, in which case you may stay longer.
After a few hours go by.... and the painkillers are wearing off..... you're gonna be like - oww! What is this contraction-like sensation?
You thought you were done - ahahahaha! Those are called afterpains and they are no joke (for me, at least -- some people don't even notice them). Essentially, it is your uterus contracting down (which is good) but it hurts (which is bad). They are usually triggered by nursing. They should be gone by the 3rd day, but in the meantime you will need to manage the pain.
After they remove your IV and you start to sober up a bit, the nurses will offer you vicodin (every 4 hours) and ibuprofin (every 6 hours) to treat your pain. Take them up on this generous offer. Sometimes they forget so you have to remind them. You may also have some tenderness and pain in your hand from the IV, but it's NBD. At this point, they will remove your catheter (if you had an epi) as well. Now you're cordless, baby!
Be prepared to see more blood than you've ever seen in your life. Your bathroom floor will look like a murder scene from Psycho. You will feel sorry for the poor bastard who has to clean up after you. Sorry, janitors. I hope you get paid a LOT.
You will also be outfitted with the finest mesh underwear that healthcare has to offer. But wait, there's more! Call right now and they'll thrown in 2 gigantic maxi pads and a huge ice pack. This ice pack will become your best friend over the next 2 days. You should also know that you will have no bladder control whatsoever. Did I mention the giant maxi-pads? Verrrry handy. I asked them to keep my catheter in for a few hours so I wouldn't have to get up. Lay-zeeeee, yup!
Ok, enough about you.
When baby arrives, they will weight him and clean him off. They will apply all sorts of ID bands and even a lojack thingy on his umblical cord. Baby will likely receive a shot of Vitamin K (to help with clotting) and his first Hep B shot. He will also get a heel prick, which they will use to detect diseases such as PKU. You will also likely be offered some shots as well while you’re in the hospital: DTap [Diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough)] and whatever else is in style at the moment.
Your pediatrician will keep very close tabs on your baby the first week. They will attend to your baby in the hospital right after birth and every day that you're in the hospital. They want to be extra sure that she is successfully eating and re-gaining the weight lost at birth. If your baby loses more than 10% of his birthweight, they will pay extra close attention to this situation.
After leaving the hospital, you can expect to go to the pediatrician once or twice the first week, even if just for a weight check. This is why it is so convenient to have a pedi who is CLOSE to you. The last thing you will feel like doing is schlepping your 1-week old baby across town when you are postpartum.
Once your baby has established good weight gain, you won’t see them again until your 2-month well baby visit. From there, you will see them at 4 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months, yada, yada, yada.
The First Day & Night
Hopefully at this point, you can catch some zzzz's, although just know that it is really difficult to sleep in the hospital. At all. People are coming into your room around the freakin clock.
A few hours after Lucie was born, I finally fell asleep when there was a loud knock at the door. "Cookies?" he said. Seriously? Yes, the cookie man was making the rounds (what?). "No, I don't want no damn cookies -- trying to SLEEP IN HERE! Been up for about 32 hours. Just had a BAY-BEE, hellllooooo.... oh wait, cookies?? yah yah yah, I'll take three. Don't mind if I do. HOM-Nom-Nom.... I may be tired, but I'm not crazy.
You will have the option of keeping your baby in your room (called rooming-in) or sending her to the nursery. They encourage rooming-in because they hate you and don't want you to sleep. Haha, just kidding (sort of). Rooming-in is encouraged so you can bond and nurse and get to know each other during those first 2 days.
You should do whatever feels right for you. If you want to keep your baby with you at all times, great. There is no shame in sending her to the nursery so you can get some shut-eye. Don't agonize too much about this decision. At the end of the day, it's really not a big deal.
Keeping your babe with you the first day/night is great. They are incredibly sleepy anyway and usually only wake up to nurse. Hopefully your partner can get a rollaway cot and you can all be together as a family. Do yourself a favor and don't be up and down changing diapers and whatnot -- let daddy or the nursing staff take care of this.
The second day is when you will be hurting the most. Keep taking your painkillers, but do get up and walk around if you're up for it. Your OB will come visit you again to check on things down below decks.
Day 2 is when you really want to focus on nursing (if you're nursing). Lookie here, you might think you're doing it right - you may even be resistant to getting help or advice from others, but don't be a defiant jackass like me. PLEASE - let the nurse or lactation specialist observe your baby's latch and your general technique. It's okay if you feel like a fool: you've never done this before. It's going to take some trial and error before you get it right. Getting a good start at breastfeeding starts here. It's all about the latch! Take advantage of the free help you can get in the hospital. It will pay dividends.
The second night after birth is when things get a little hairy... your precious little baby has now realized that she is out of the womb and isn't really happy about this situation. I clearly remember a text a friend sent me on the second day:
"2nd night = crazy night"
You won’t read about this in any books, but most moms report this phenomenon. You will be exhausted and in pain, but sleep as much as you can because you are going home tomorrow (shit!)
On Day 3, eat a good breakfast before you pack up your bags. Hopefully you brought a cute outfit to bring baby home in. Stick with a long-sleeved kimono (easy on/off) and some newborn pants. Bring some hand mitts and socks too. As for yourself, you should bring maternity clothes to wear home, as your belly will still be about 6 months pregnant at this time (sorry gals).
Have a family member bring up the car seat before you leave. This way, you can take as much time as you need to ensure that baby is properly secured since it will be your first time.
Leaving the hospital is an emotional moment. Hopefully you had a wonderful experience and are hugging the nurses goodbye. If you are renting a breast pump from the hospital, have your partner go pick it up before you check out, because it takes a long time to fill out all that paperwork, blah, blah blah.
The Car Ride Home
Boy, I am getting really granular here, no? The car ride home can be nervewarcking. Please, please bring a pacifier with you to use - even if only on this one special occasion. A crying newborn will not make for a good homecoming. You may want to ride in the back seat with your baby so you can keep an eye on things.
Sitting in the car will only remind you how bad your ladyparts hurt. Remind your husband to avoid bumps (ahem) at all cost.
The First Week Home
The first week home from the hospital is hell. Sorry. If anyone tells you differently, they are lying or just don’t have a very good memory.
The reason I say this is not to scare you, but to give you some realistic expectations. If you know that you are expecting Hurricane [enter baby’s name here] to make landfall as a Category 4, you can prepare yourself accordingly. Remember: it’s only a week or so. After the first several days, things get better VERY quickly. I promise.
For thousands of generations (except for the last 1 or 2), women lived in tribal societies where mothering skills were passed along in tightly-knit familial communities. A newborn baby would have been cared for by grandmothers, aunts, cousins, siblings, etc.
A new mom would not be alone to figure things out on her own. You can’t be expected to *know* what to do, you must learn these things. To be honest, it requires a bit of handholding. During this first week (or 2), it is so important to have loved ones at your house to help you. Your husband is great but let’s face it, he is as clueless as you. I highly recommend a mother, MIL, a sister or a good friend – preferably someone who has been through this before. Unless all of the aforementioned people drive you nuts, don’t go it alone. I know a lot of FTMs who insisted on flying solo so they could figure everything out for themselves. This is not the time for self-teaching, trust me. You are way too fucked up in the head.
"Chris and I had planned to spend a week alone at home with the baby, just the three of us, before having our families come for a visit. We had wanted uninterrupted time to bond as a family.
We chose not to have a baby nurse, either, because not only did we not want a stranger in our home, but we figured we could handle it ourselves until our relatives came to stay. We couldn’t have been more wrong. We were anything but peaceful, and because we were alone, we were overwhelmed."
-- Brooke Shields in Down Came the Rain
Accept help from your tribe (however, don’t let the whole tribe bombard your house, as this will cause other forms of insanity….).
Your body is recovering from one of the most traumatic physical experiences in life. Even if you had a picture-perfect delivery, your body will still be dealing with the fact that it squeezed something the size of a watermelon out something the size of a lemon. This coincides with other ill-timed events, like sleep deprivation, hormonal craziness, physical pain, and the stress and anxiety of caring for a completely helpless little monkey. You’ll get through it, but you should be emotionally prepared and set your expectations accordingly.
I’ve prepared a kit of items that I *highly* recommend you have on hand when you get home: a post-delivery survival kit. Throw everything into a cute baby storage box and it makes a very thoughtful and practical gift for an expectant first time mom. Read on for details on the kit's contents...
Your body has seen better days. First, you will be bleeding so much that you wish you had a Haz Mat team on staff. It’s really quite gnarly. The gigantic maxi-pad in the mesh underwear situation is a poorly engineered solution at best. Believe me when I tell you to buy a package of Depends for Women (size S/M, unless you are a big girl). It is so much more comfortable and absorbent (and sooooo sexy!). Keep a separate trash bag in your bathroom for the haz mat trash. The flood O’ blood tapers off in about 2 weeks and hopefully you won’t bleed again for many months until you get your period back. Yay.
If you had a vaginal delivery, you can expect that your crotch will be a source of woe in the following areas:
Perineum: If you tore or had an episiotomy (due to the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor), you doctor will stitch you up with dissolvable sutures. You can tear anywhere from none to Oh Fuck (Level 4), but the majority of women have a Level 1 or Level 2 tear. Don't stress too much about this. It's out of your hands and you WILL fully heal, BUT you will feel pain and discomfort depending on the severity of the tear.
This pain can go away in a few days, but most mommies that I talked to reported that it lasted many, many weeks. This tends to correspond with the size of your baby and the speed of the birth (very quick births can cause bad tearing). My friend who birthed a petite 5.5 pounder reported almost no pain, while the others of us who birthed NORMAL SIZED BABIES (ahem) definitely felt it for longer. If it makes you feel any better, the smaller babies take much longer to start sleeping through the night, so take THAT, little baby-birthing bitches!
For me, this was definitely one of those “I wish someone would have told me” things. I had pain down there for about 7 weeks and believe me, it was no picnic. Never fear, though, you WILL heal and in about 2-3 months and you shouldn’t be able to tell a difference. In the meantime, you can spray dermoplast on your crotch to numb the pain (really? yes, really).
Taking a sitz
Use your squirt bottle to irrigate (squirt) the area with warm water after you use the potty; trust me, you do NOT want to wipe. When you're really hurting, especially in those first few days from the hospital, you should soak your stitches in a sitz bath. A sitz bath is just a plastic basin that fits on top of your toilet. You can also get the "soaking tea" to put in the sitz bath instead of regular water. The tea is a worthwhile indulgence, in my opinion. You can buy the sitz bath at your local drugstore, but not the tea.
Taking a few minutes to yourself to relax and heal is really important for your sanity, even if it's just for 10 quiet minutes alone.
Hemorrhoids: What a pain in the ass hemorrhoids are. Many women get them as a result of pushing and all of the pressure that's exerted on your bottom. Heck, some even get them from pregnancy. The severity of hemorrhoids tends to correlate with how long and hard you pushed. About half of the mommies I talked to got hemmoroids. They should go away on their own in a couple of weeks and in the meantime you can use Tucks (witchhazel) to soothe the pain. This is also where the Donut comes in handy. Take your stool softeners religiously so you don’t make the problem worse.
Incontinence: The process of birth does a number on your pelvic floor muscles. Most women experience a period of incontinence after childbirth, especially in the first week. All I can say is: kegels, kegels, kegels! Nursing your baby is a great time to do kegels (may as well do something with all that down time). Seriously, they help SO much to get those muscles back into shape, although sadly, some women do experience long-term incontinence as a result of childbirth. Did I mention you should do your kegels?
Constipation: Yup, it’s true. Either way you delivered, you will probably be very constipated. This can last for what feels like an eternity (read: 2-3 MONTHS). The best thing you can do is to take your stool softeners religiously twice per day and drink LOTS of water. A lot. Of water. Much of the water in your body is being diverted to your milk supply, which leaves little left to aid in digestion (bastards!).
Your first poop may be a little painful, so bring a bullet to bite. A teething ring works well too.
Hips, knees and back. Ouch, ouch, and ouch, especially if you are an old geezer like me.
Your boobs: After you deliver your baby, your breasts won’t really feel very different at first. You will be feeding your baby with your supply of colostrum, which comes in as early as 20 weeks. Your real milk supply will “come in” anywhere from 2-5 days postpartum. There is no mistaking when this occurs because your breasts will become absolutely enormous – cartoon-like, in fact. This event is not very pleasant, but it doesn’t last very long (about 24 hours). Use warm compresses if you experience engorgement.
Recovering from a C-Section
If you had a C-section, you will have a little more mending to do. You will have had major abdominal surgery which takes a full 6-8 weeks to full recover. The following was written by a fellow subscriber (thanks Angie!)
So, you had to have a c-section for one reason or another. Maybe you are heartbroken because of it, maybe you wanted it, or maybe you fall somewhere in between. At least you get to skip all that horrific bleeding, right? Right?! Well color yourself surprised when you leave a trail of gore behind you on your way into the bathroom - that is, if you can walk yet.
For the first 3-4 days walking is a very, very difficult task. You will need help. You might need help showering. Or, you might just not shower (if you are me). Either way, it is pretty hard to do much more than exist for the first few days.
Back to the bleeding - like with a vaginal delivery you will be bleeding anywhere from 4 - 6 weeks. Still no tampons, just the enormous pillows they send you home with to use as pads. Some advice? Take as much of those mesh undies homes as you can, because you best just throw away anything you are wearing for the first 2 weeks. After that, it should start to taper off. Unfortunately, constipation, incontinence (ever hear of snissing?), and hip/knee/back pain are also prevalent even with a "section".
Your incision will be very painful at first. It also looks terrible. Think of Freddy Krueger kneading dough. Does that scare you? Don't worry, it gets better! You are probably sick of hearing that by now, since you will be hearing a lot of it the first few months. But it does. I promise. Just be patient.
After you deliver, your hormones are going haywire. Prepare to be on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, courtesy of estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and oxytocin. After delivery, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop sharply, reaching pre-pregnancy levels by the fifth postpartum day. This sudden droppage will make you feel REALLY out of sorts.
You can expect that you will be on a rollercoaster ride of elation, sadness, and a little anxiety. You will burst into tears at the drop of a hat (tears of joy? tears of sorrow? who really knows. Just tears.). This is normal. Just ride the wave and know that it will take you back into shore.
According to Dr. Alan Greene:
Most new mothers (perhaps as many as 90%) will have periods of weepiness, mood swings, anxiety, unhappiness, and regret. Usually this lasts for a few days or less and is quickly forgotten. Sometimes the blue period comes and goes for six weeks. For some moms, the blues don't begin until the baby stops nursing (another time of major hormonal shifts). Hormones, however, are not the entire story...
Read more: http://www.drgreene.com/qa/baby-blues#ixzz1BYLerHYO
Your hormones also do a number on your body temperature.
At first (around Day 4), you will be FREEZING cold. So cold you don't know how you will ever feel warm again. Then you will wake up sweating and peeling your clothes off. Then you will be cold again.
Nobody knows why. You may also have a complete loss of appetite. Don’t worry, it’s all normal.
Most mommies feel some sort of anxiety, but some people get it really bad. It *seems* to me that your level of anxiety will correspond heavily with your baby’s temperament. Women who have ‘good’ babies tend to fare way better than people with colicky, cranky or otherwise difficult babies. A baby’s constant crying can bring you to your knees in less than 20 minutes. This is a great time to take shifts with you partner (or helper) so that no one person has to go for too long with a screaming baby.
All joking aside, you can start sliding downhill very quickly. This is when you need to call your doctor. Your doctor is very used to dealing with this issue and is more than happy to help you get through this rough spot. Don’t be proud – let him. If you tend to be the type of person that neglects your own needs, just remind yourself that your baby needs you to take care of his/her momma. Sneaky, huh?
A note to daddies: (send this to your SO)....
Hey daddy. Sup? Hey, I have a favor to ask. After your lady gives birth, things are gonna be a little crazy at first. You can help her out immensely by doing 2 simple things for her every morning. She's going to be pretty tired and probably in some pain for a little while. So before you leave for work, please:
1) Take the baby for 30 minutes so she can shower, dress, dry her hair, blah blah blah. This will make her feel like a human. Don't wait for her to ask, you take the initiative.
2) Help her get some breakfast. Maybe you make some eggs for her or maybe just run out and get an Egg McMuffin. Doesn't matter. Just help her eat. You see, her brain isn't firing on all cylinders right now so it's hard to think about complex things like feeding oneself. If she's nursing, she's gonna be super hungry! But don't worry, dear daddy, breastfeeding is helping burn mad calories so she'll drop that baby weight pretty quickly (I can't beleive you would even bring that up at a time like this, man. You are so shallow ;-)
Thanks, daddy. You're the best.
The first 3 months of your baby’s life is a transition between the womb-world and the real world; it truly is the “4th trimester”. Your job is to usher them through this transition as painlessly as possible.
In utero, your baby was naturally awake and active exactly when you weren’t: at night. Now that she is no longer living inside of you, you must gradually shift her from a nocturnal schedule to a normal daytime (diurnal?) schedule. This is a gradual process and won’t happen overnight, but you should start as soon as you get home from the hospital.
Many moms fall into the trap of letting the baby completely dictate their own sleeping schedule because it SEEMS very natural and wonderful. It’s the right thing to do, right? Let baby do what baby wants to do. Eh.... not so much...
Remember: your baby is just a brain stem at this point. She is just reacting to stimuli. You and your cerebral cortex have to do the heavy-lifting and guide your baby through the transition to a daytime schedule. Otherwise you will end up with an 8 month old baby that is waking multiple times in the night demanding to be fed and ready to party – and you and your husband will not get any semblance of normalcy back in your life for a long, long time. You will have to hire a sleep consultant to cure you of your woes, blah blah blah. Just say no.
The first week home from the hospital, your baby will be sleeping a LOT. They are recovering from birth and adjusting to the stressors of the outside world. They need a lot of sleep. Great! What a coincidence because so do you! The problem is, they will be coming to the trough to feed every 2.5-3.5 hours. They need frequent feedings to fill up those tiny little tummies.
Daytime Feedings - Fill 'Em Up!
During the daytime is when you really focus on filling up their tank with milk. Starting with the first feeding after sunrise, feed your baby every 3 hours (at a minimum!), timing from the BEGINNING of the last feed to the beginning of the next feed. Wake them from napping (during the day ONLY) if you must. You may feel bad about doing it, but don’t. This is very important and prevents them from napping too long during the day, which will in turn prevent them from sleeping well at night.
After some amount of time (a week for some, several weeks for others), you will begin to notice your baby sleeping for longer than a 3 hour span at night. Ah ha! This is the first glimmer of normal night sleeping. Don't worry, as the span gets bigger, your milk supply will adjust accordingly. You may feel a little engorged when it first happens, though. Just roll with it. You can also pump (just a little bit!) for relief.
As this interval widens, you will need to start cluster feeding at night. Cluster feeding just means that you nurse (or bottle feed) very frequently right before bedtime. So, if "bedtime" is 8pm, feed them at 6pm, 7pm, and maybe a top-off before going down for night-night. This will fill their bellies so they can go longer before waking up hungry. Some people also call this the "dream feed". I call it buying an insurance policy on your own sleep that night ;-)
If done correctly, you will notice this span-of-sleeping-at-night gradually lengthen and lengthen. For Lucie, it happened fast. One night, she slept from 10pm-3am (weeeeeeeee!). The next night she woke at 4am. The following week she slept from 10pm-5am, then 6am, then (ohmygodddd) 7am. It was a beautiful thing. I shed a tear. She was "sleeping through the night" by 7 weeks. This is the part where is have to say **Results may not be typical. Being able to sleep through the night heavily depends on your baby's weight, 11-15 lbs being the range where this becomes possible. This is why women who want small babies are nutso!
Point being: life sucks when you have to wake up every 2-2.5 hours and you don't get any continuity in your sleep. You feel like a zombie around the clock. No amount of caffeine can fix you. When you sleep? The angels sing and life is great again. This is when you become an obnoxiously happy mom. Yay. This is our goal.
The E-A-S-Y method, a critique
One of the books I really enjoyed (and many mommy friends RAVED about) was The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg (who since passed away from skin cancer - sad). She espouses establishing a 3-hour EASY routine for baby: E (Eat), A (Activity), S (Sleep), Y (You). Do these things in this order each time and everyone will be happy. Babies need the predictability of a routine, etc, etc. Got it? Great.
After I read the book, I was an immediate devotee. Then I HAD the baby.... and I realized there was a fundamental and glaring flaw to the whole methodology: after a month or so, babies sleep way less often then they EAT. So....like, the method went from E-A-S-Y to E-A-S-E-A-E-S..... you feel me? Eating 6 times per day and sleeping 3? It's the (E*2) + S method. If you're not good with arithmetics (ahem), what I mean is that this method? ...doesn't work as prescribed.
I AGREE with her wholeheartedly that babies need a routine. I'm a fan of routines... but it's just not that clean. Sleeping is usually flanked by 2 nursing sessions. And that's ok. So don't be like me: "no, she can't possibly eat again because she hasn't slept yet this cycle." Idiotic. This is also why I say --- don't take any one book as gospel. Critical thinking (or even regular, reptilian-brain thinking) is always required.
Don't Miss this Opportunity
Whether you are a working mom planning on going back or a SAHM - or perhaps you are undecided about going back full-time, I have to tell you something very important: don't miss this opportunity to socialize during your downtime. By law, you should have at least 6 weeks off, and hopefully more.
After everything has settled down, all the gifts have been received, all the relatives have gone home, your SO has gone back to work and your dog has decided that she hates you, you may feel very. very. lonely.... but that's okay because so does every other mom-who-just-had-a-baby. So what do you do? FIND THEM.
Find your local mother's group and get active. If there isn't a local mother's group where you live, make one. How? It can be as simple as running into other new moms while you're at Starbucks or the park or the grocery store and striking up a conversation. The fact that you had a baby around the same time is instant fodder for bonding.
Plan a weekly get-together and stick with it. Hopefully, the women that you meet during this time will become life-long friends for you and your baby. If you lay low during your time off and don't reach out, you may miss this ever-important bonding opportunity.
Sex [noun]: the last thing you will feel like doing after having a baby..... in the beginning, at least.
The big myth is that everyone jumps right back into bed and is ready to rock at 6 weeks. Eh... not so much.
Technically speaking, you should wait until your 6 week PP OB appointment to get the all-clear from your doc before having sex, especially if you tore, had an episiotomy or a C-section. However, this does not mean that most women are getting back on the love bus 6 weeks after giving birth. Nay.
I asked 550 women about postpartum sex. Here is what I learned:
Many couples "try" to have sex shortly after 6 weeks (or even before) and have to scrub the mission due to pain or discomfort. In fact, many moms report having multiple... attempts. Some jokingly compared it to losing their virginity. Again.
When asked "how long after delivering your baby could you have sex comfortably?", the median answer was:
There. So don't feel bad if your man is driving you nuts about it and you're feeling bad because you can't perform. Yes, he will get laid again in this lifetime, but he may have to be a little patient! It gets better.
Other than the obvious (damage and pain to your perineum), there are several other factors that make postpartum sex a little tricky...
Yes, it's true, breastfeeding will lower your estrogen and may contribute to an overall low libido and dryness. LOTS of women report this. This is called Mother Nature's birth control. To remedy it, your doc can prescribe topical estrogen, which is injected like a tampon and will help your ladyparts regain their elasticity and moisture.
Don't touch my boobs
Let me boil it down for you: in the first few months, you may not want anyone - except for your baby - going near your boobs. For any reason whatsoever. Period. This does not make you feel sexy. At all. It makes you want to hide in the closet. Having sex can also cause an involuntary let-down of milk, which can be annoying at best and embarrassing at worst.
The other major reason women reported for not having sex was THEY JUST DIDN'T FEEL LIKE IT, OKAY???? Sersiously. GEEZ! It seems like everyone wants/needs something from you. And all you want is a nap.
Don't get discouraged, though. This is a temporary problem (I sound like a broken record). The GREAT news is that a few months down the line, many MANY couples report an amazing resurgence in their sex life. Yay! See, it's not all bad. Just don't get preggers again (unless you want to), k?
The 6-week Crazy Peak (hey, that rhymes)
You know what else nodoby told me? Nobody mentioned the 6-week crazy thing. What's that, you say? Oh, well I will tell you, unlike my mean and negligent friends.
Your baby will get continually fussier every day in the evenings, usually 3-4 hours before "bedtime" (a term I use loosely). Your husband (or baby-daddy, I'm not judging) will come home early from work at 5pm eager to see the baby and the baby will scream and cry bloody murder. Your husband will be convinced that your baby hates him and will sulk in the living room with a beer (or 2).
What's really going on is that your baby's immature nervous system is becoming so overloaded during a day full of sensory input. The result is a nightly freak-out session that will make you wonder how to get the baby back inside of you (it's messy and I don't recommend it). The worse of it occurs right around 6 weeks, then gets progressively better every day -- ending around 2 months or so. So don't worry: your baby doesn't hate you, you're not doing anything wrong, (and no, she's not teething yet), it's just a hump that you have to get over.
After you get over this hump, THIS. This, my friends, signals the end of newborn-hood. Yay basal ganglia! Neurons are your friend.
You Made it!
Congratulations, you made it through the first 2 months! Here is where the fun really begins.
Before going any further, a few housekeeping items... now that 2 months have gone by, it's time to get back to a normal 'you'.
Now that your uterus has shrunk back to its normal upright and locked position, it's time to put away those gorgeous maternity clothes (me? facetious? never).
I know, I know, you haven't lost all the baby weight yet. That's all perfectly well and good, but it's time to go shopping, mama. We're going to the mall to buy an inexpensive pair of "in-between jeans". Head right on over to Old Navy or Gap (don't spend too much because before long, they'll be too big)...(hopefully), but do buy yourself a pair of normal human female jeans. Get some new shoes too. Comfy ones. Tell your husband it's a gift from the baby. Or you can blame it on me. I'm okay with that.
Now is also a great time to start thinking about getting into a regular exercise program.