Updated February 2019
After you deliver, your hormones go 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 roller coaster 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 to 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 here.
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 your 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 who neglects your own needs, just remind yourself that your baby needs you to take care of his/her momma. Sneaky, huh?
A note to partners (send this to your SO…):
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 two 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:
- 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.
- 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 herself. If she’s nursing, she’s gonna be super hungry! But don’t worry, breastfeeding is helping burn mad calories so she’ll drop that baby weight pretty quickly (I can’t believe you would even bring that up at a time like this, man, you are so shallow ;-))
Thanks! You’re the best. 😉