If you’ve had a baby, then the term ‘postpartum’ will be very familiar.
It’s often conflated with postpartum depression, a common and serious post-birth complication. But this is not the same thing.
Postpartum involves a range of physical and emotional changes to a new mom in the first months after her birth. It’s also starting to be called the 4th trimester, which sounds more positive.
To map this experience, I find it helpful to plan for common 4th-trimester body changes in terms of 5 lenses:
Part 1: Breasts — baby, don’t hurt me
After giving birth, my relationship with my boobs fundamentally changed.
Breastfeeding was a new skill for both my baby and I to learn, and it often hurt in the beginning (think sore nipples or blocked ducts).
I was terrible at it.
It took me a while to recognize a good latch. (They should be swallowing, not making you a pacifier).
Then I had trouble with painful nipples and making enough milk. (Pumping helps with sore nipples and builds your supply). I also got so dehydrated that I actually fell over from vertigo. (Drinking tons of water is important).
Navigating your new boobs is also something that keeps evolving.
You’ll likely be facing pumping, leaks, and engorgement when it’s time to return to work. And questions about things like whether it’s safe to drink booze.
Books specifically about breastfeeding cover everything from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding to get started, right through to Work. Pump. Repeat. The New Mom’s Survival Guide to help you adjust to pumping at the office.
While resources like those are great for specific questions, direct feedback is so valuable as you’re getting started. Most hospitals offer lactation consultants — make a point to use them while you can.
This is part 1 of the 5-part series. Click below the other sections.
(Part 2) Postpartum emotions — Swings take control
(Part 3) Abs – Why the gym won’t cure a (post-baby) jelly belly
(Part 4) Sexual stuff… Baby, don’t tear me apart