first two weeks with baby
WHAT NO ONE TELLS YOU
It’s magical isn’t it? The baby’s finally here! Finally!
And then all of a sudden, regardless of whether you’ve done this before or not, you either realize that you have no idea what you’re supposed to do right now or that you’ve completely forgotten what you’re supposed to do right now. You look at this beautiful creature laying in your arms and it hits you so hard you feel your heart beat through your chest – this is gonna be hard.
Don’t get me wrong. The emotions you feel when you finally hold that little baby are life changing. You feel utter love, utter fear, utter… everything. But it’s undeniable. These coming couple of weeks will not be easy.
I’ve always felt that if I knew what challenges may be laying ahead, I can at least prepare myself mentally to face them. Even better, I can come up with a plan to tackle some as they arise. So given that I’ve gone through this four times before, I want to share with you 8 challenges that may be laying ahead in the first 2 weeks with baby, and some tips on how to tackle each of them like the boss mom that you are!
1. It takes quite a bit of time to recover from labour
Whether you had your baby by C-section or not, you just went through quite the ordeal to get that little human out of your body. They don’t call it labour for nothing. I remember the day after my first labor, I seriously felt like I had spent the day before gym hopping, doing one high intensity workout after another. I was more sore than I have ever been. Like physically sore. My arms hurt, my abs hurt, and boy did my poor ‘baby-exit’ area hurt. It took a few days for this exhaustion to go away and for some people, it can be hard to walk more than a few meters during those early days.
Tip: Do not fight it. Take it from someone who really tried to fight it and learned the hard way that this fight is a fight lost! If you don’t rest and give your body some time to relax, it’ll take longer to recover and really, nobody wins.
2. there are a bunch of tests that the baby needs to do
When we think of the first day or two with baby, we envision magical quiet moments staring at a perfect cherub in the comfort of the rocking chair we so excitedly assembled in the weeks before. Within those first hours, though, there are some newborn checks that need to be done before you can bring baby home. Blood tests are often done via a heel prick – they make a tiny little poke at the baby’s heel and collect the blood that drips out. I realize in the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal, but as a new mommy, it presses on a brand new button in your heart. Look, I know there are mommies that go through challenges way, way harder with their newborns. To the NICU mamas, I respect you and acknowledge that you have a strength that comes only from the huge difficulties you had to navigate with your little one.
Tip: I got through these pricks by nursing my baby and singing as the nurse did what needed to be done. My third little one had to be kept back for jaundice (again, not a big deal) and it was very stressful for me to not be allowed to hold him when I wanted. If you find yourself in a similar place, give yourself permission to feel sad. This isn’t easy. Give your emotions their space then anchor yourself in the faith that your baby is in good hands.
3. breastfeeding hurts
Breastfeeding is awesome. It is such a beautiful, quiet time spent bonding and admiring your baby. And also, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. The first few weeks of nursing are very challenging. It hurts a lot, it doesn’t come without lots of practice, and it’s super exhausting. As with almost everything that has to do with baby, it doesn’t come as naturally as you’d expect.
Tip: Be patient and keep practising. If breastfeeding is what you want for your baby, expect that you will need to push through some challenges. The good news is that it does get better. Eventually, it becomes painless and sweet and very enjoyable.
4. lots of people will want to visit
For some reason, going through something as physically taxing as labour and delivery translates to some people as “I wanna be a hostess. Please come over so I can feel bad about my messy house.” I know, I know. They’re just well meaning, excited relatives and friends that would love to share in your joy. But the fact of the matter is, you’re in no shape to have visitors during these first couple of weeks. You’re exhausted, and uncomfortable, and sleep deprived.
Tip: It might be hard to turn guests away, but if someone isn’t coming to do your dishes or hold the baby while you take a much needed nap, try to ask for a rain check and promise a more focused visit in a couple of weeks.
5. there will be times when baby is fussy, and you really have no idea what to do about it
The first few days with baby are magical. You look at this little, gorgeous creature and you cannot be more grateful. But, at times, you also cannot be more confused. Why on earth are they crying right now? After you’ve made sure the baby isn’t hungry, hot, cold or sleepy, you eventually end up running out of ideas. Colic is a condition that many babies experience. Basically, their tummies are trying to adjust to having to digest external food and that is no easy task. Lots of babies end up being gassy, irritated and really fussy. My first baby had a predictable super fussy time between 7pm and midnight. My second baby stepped it up and decided to have her fussiness be between 11pm and 3am. My third baby threw me a total curve ball when he didn’t have colic at all. Every baby is different.
Tip: Mama, know that you’re doing a great job. Just roll with it. The baby being fussy is not at all your fault. There are a few products you can try, like Ovol or Gripe Water, but really, this difficult phase will pass with time. If you need a break, please put the baby down in a safe place and take a quick breather in a separate room before going back for another round. You got this mama!
6. sleep deprivation takes you to another level of hard
We think we know ourselves until we try to deal with stress while completely sleep deprived. Babies are born without an internal clock to tell them when is morning and when is night. I remember when I had my first baby, the nurse came into my room in the evening to tell me that she’ll be back at 6am for blood work. I was like, “Can we maybe push that to 9 or something so I can get some rest? I’m exhausted.” I had totally forgotten that the baby that now lay by my bedside was going to be the boss of my time from now on. The nurse just smirked, patted me on the back and walked off.
Tip: Take power naps whenever possible. I know there’s a ton of things you could be doing. I know that you’d rather be productive during the day. I know, trust me, I know. But this was another wrong choice I made and I learned my lesson the hard way. Your body will start failing on you. You’ll end up putting your keys in the fridge and find your phone in the dishwasher… so I hear.
7. there are these things called after-pains
This is something I seriously knew nothing about until it happened to me. After you deliver your sweet little bundle of joy, your uterus immediately begins the process of shrinking back to its pre-baby size. A couple of things aid in this process. First of all, the fact that the watermelon living inside you is out gives your body the space to contract down. But the more important factor is that several different hormones will now spring into action. One of these hormones is Oxytocin, the hormone released as you breastfeed your baby. The release of this hormone further contracts your uterus and this produces the after pain of childbirth. This pain is really pronounced while breastfeeding. It is also said to increase with each subsequent delivery – even though my fourth didn’t feel as bad as my third.
Tip: The best way I found to deal with this is a nice combination of Tylenol, patience and grace. It’ll be gone within a few weeks.
8. your body still looks pregnant after baby comes out
It’s something we don’t want to worry about, but it’s also the thing that we find ourselves worrying a lot about. What will my body look like after this baby comes out? Will I be flabby and covered in stretch marks? How long will it take me to get back to my pre-baby weight? Look mama, your body just did something beyond incredible. It has just stretched to its limit to allow another human being to live inside it for almost a year. Let that sink in! Your body just took part in a wonder! A miracle! So yes, it will still bear the signs of this great feat for a while. It takes several weeks before the bump goes away. But don’t be discouraged.
Tip: Look at your body and say, “Wow, you’re amazing! This baby would not be here without you!” instead of looking at it and demanding “why is it taking so long for you to recover from this and snap back to the way you were before?” I’m not belittling the feeling of insecurity we get when we’re still wearing maternity pants a few weeks after giving birth. It sucks. But, with time and patience and kindness, your body will fit into non-maternity clothes. Then, with some work and diligence, you can get in whatever shape you want to.
Mama, you are amazing! That is the most important thing to repeat to yourself during these first couple of weeks postpartum. You are strong. You are capable. You are beautiful.
You are entering brand new territory, whether you’ve just been blessed with your first baby or you’re entering life with six. Be patient with yourself and give yourself grace to learn.
If you like this, please share it with another mommy and comment below to let me know what other things surprised you when you had your own little one.