What it’s REALLY like during your first week postpartum.
When you think of those first couple of days postpartum, you often picture quiet early morning cuddles with your newborn, long peaceful walks around the neighborhood and cute rustic-themed photoshoots of the newest addition to your family.
But the reality is that your 1st week postpartum can be the most grueling.
From scraping tar-like poop off your babies butt during the wee hours of the night to scooping up mounds of hair from the shower drain daily, to trying to keep up with cluster-feeding [insert ugly cry here]— it isn’t all roses and unicorns.
Don’t fall for those pretty, white, (often) staged Instagram feeds.
Your hair will look a mess, you won’t have a 6 pack of abs and there sure as heck won’t be anything white…for too long.
Don’t get me wrong, your first week postpartum will be filled with lots of sweet memorable moments but it will also be filled with moments you will want to erase from your memory forever.
In this post I share with you what you can expect to experience during your 1st week postpartum.
But First: My First Week After Having Twins
I had a C-Section since I had some complications during pregnancy and had to be on bedrest for most of my second and third trimester.
So my postpartum experience might not be the same as other moms, but I wanted to share my story in case there are moms ready to have a C-Section and/or twins.
I honestly wasn’t prepared for what was to come that first week. By the time my husband and I came home with our bundles of joy, we were on less than 3 hours of sleep (and I was in the hospital for around 4 days).
We didn’t have bottles – I thought I’d breastfeed exclusively *snort – and we only had one crib and one swing.
My husband and I wrote down every time we ate, peed, and took Tylenol. We also were charting the twins schedule too and often got confused – lack of sleep and all.
We were lucky to have family help us out and even cook some freezer meals so that we didn’t starve while taking care of our twins.
So with the spaghetti and meatballs, sweet potato soup and Hawaiian meatballs and rice, we had other meals to eat (like breakfast) so we relied on muffins and toast. With the excessive hunger and wanting ice cold water ALL.THE.TIME I was barley holding on.
My twins cried…and cried. I cried. And cried.
No soother worked.
I found wearing them was the only way to comfort them. It was a challenging week, but my husband helped and we got through it.
Looking back, that first month was an amazing month. Watching my twins grow week by week, cuddling them, smelling them and watching them sleep was truly life-changing!
If you’re pregnant for the first time, here’s what you need to know about that first week postpartum.
Postpartum: What to Expect Emotionally and Mentally
Thanks to your hormones and all the changes that come along with the territory of motherhood, you’ll go through a roller coaster of emotions ranging from pure euphoric bliss to debilitating depression.
Adjusting to life as a mama to a brand spankin’ new baby is tough.
What makes it hard for new mamas to adjust emotionally and mentally is the fact that these emotions don’t just change daily, they can very well change by the minute.
One minute you’re so full of love you can’t put your baby down and you actually allow your hubby to eat the last bit of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream (mmm, and the next minute you can’t stand the sound of your baby crying and the sight of your husband sends you flying off the handle.
Though you’re it can be very overwhelming, going through this period of adjustment is quite normal).
Below is a breakdown of some of the emotions you may feel during your 1st week postpartum.
- Baby blues
- Postpartum depression
Please remember that none of these emotions make you a bad mother.
I’m telling you this because I know that at some point, you may even question your momming abilities.
From one mom to another, you are more than enough and you are what your baby needs.
You’re just a human being who has undergone a massive life event. It’s not always easy to adjust, especially when you have your hormones going up and down in leaps and bounds.
My emotions were mostly a mix of happy bliss to fearful and sad as the idea of taking care of brand new twins was almost too much to have that responsibility.
If you find that it is very difficult for you to adapt and to get on with your day-to-day life, or if you have overwhelming thoughts that make it difficult for you to be around others or even around yourself, do reach out to your doctor for further consultation.
Postpartum: What to Expect Physically
The first week after your birth will make you feel like you birthed out a watermelon for sure! The pain, soreness and tired feeling can leave you not feeling your best.
To be prepared here is what to expect physically your first week postpartum.
You’ll experience bleeding and discharge for several weeks after the birth of your baby.
Postpartum bleeding will be heaviest during your 1st week postpartum (4-5 days) and usually tapers off around the 6 week mark. Though some women do report bleeding beyond this.
Your milk will probably come in at about the 3-5 day mark.
Up until then, your new bundle of joy will fill his little belly up with colostrum. Trust me when I tell you that you will know when your milk comes in. Your breasts will feel super full, sore to the touch, and heavy.
They’ll get huge. Many moms easily go from a modest b cup to a full d-cup! Seriously it’ll be like looking at the before an after of a breast augmentation.
*Note: enjoy them while they last though because they’ll just end up betraying you by deflating into sad little flapjacks.
Your body has no idea how many babies it will be responsible for nourishing. So the discomfort will last for several days until your body adjusts to your baby’s needs.
You’ll probably carry into your postpartum, weeks (maybe even months) of lack of good sleep, exhaustion from childbirth, more missed ZZZs from late nights and early morning feeding sessions, etc…You will be exhausted.
All moms will go through a period of postpartum exhaustion that ranges from I think need a cat nap to don’t even bother waking me up for the next 90 days.
My word of advice to you: REST. Resting will allow your body to recover a lot quicker. Plus you’ll be able to function a lot better throughout the day.
After that first initial week, I had to learn my twins’ needs, which helped me know when I could rest, if only for 20 minutes at a time.
This is especially true for breastfeeding mamas. Breastmilk is made up of about 90% water.
It’s no wonder many nursing mamas are so thirsty!
Even if you don’t nurse, you still may feel increase thirst during those first couple of weeks simply because your body is ridding itself of lots of fluid through urine, sweat, lochia, etc…
Oh, you thought you’d ditch you raging hunger in the delivery room? Nope!
Your body requires fuel to produce the milk you’ll need to feed your baby.
If you do breastfeed, that feeling of hunger will be even more intense. “Snapping back” shouldn’t be your focus during those first couple of days postpartum. You should really just be focused on eating what your body needs to be healthy and to recover.
Thanks to those pesky hormones, you may experience nights where you wake up fully drenched in SWEAT.
Night sweats are kinda super gross and it can be quite frightening when you realize how much fluid your body is expelling. As annoying as this gross postpartum symptom is, just know that it is normal and it will come to end end. Your body just needs some time to get rid of all those extra fluids.
From your fuller tatas, to your shrinking uterus, down to your lady bits, you’ll feel some sort of discomfort. Though it is quite a pain in the arse, it’s normal for you to experience temporary general soreness.
If you’ve had a c-section like me, you will not only experience some pain at your incision site but also at the site of injection of your epidural.
If you’ve had a vaginal birth, you’ll also experience vaginal pain, even more if you tear or get an episiotomy. These pains tend to reach their peak during that first postpartum week. You’ll be happy to know that things normally get a lot better after this.
Regardless of whether or not you breastfeed your baby, you will experience painful uterine contractions.
Oh, you thought the last you saw of those contractions were in the delivery room? No such luck!
The cramps you’ll experience during that 1st week postpartum will be the worst! Your uterus will begin shrinking back to its pre-baby size about a day or 2 after baby is born. If you breastfeed, your contractions may be even more intense but it will take about 4 weeks less for your uterus to shrink than if you do not breastfeed.
Constipation & Hemorrhoids
You can blame being backed up on many things including your hormones and on the effects of some pain relievers used during childbirth. Constipation will cause you to strain and may even cause you to develop painful hemorrhoids. It’s important to stay hydrated and to eat a wholesome fiber-rich diet during that 1st week postpartum. This will encourage your bowels to start moving again, and to prevent the worsening of and development of new hemmies!
This annoying symptom is usually written-off as “normal” during pregnancy and as a result often goes unchecked by many moms and healthcare practitioners.
Pregnancy hormones such as relaxin as well as poor posture during pregnancy and the weakening of abdominal muscles can definitely trigger back pain. That pain may feel even worse during that 1st week postpartum as your body begins to heal and as you adjust to life with a newborn.
Postpartum hair loss can kick in at any time.
But don’t freak out just yet.
You don’t have to worry about waking up one day and finding all of your hair piled on top of your pillow. You may notice a few strands here or there or you may be part of those mamas who experience larger chunks of hair falling out (like me!).
This symptom can be downright depressing as you watch your once full mane thin out into a spaghetti-like stringy mess, but once your hormones regulate themselves, the shedding should stop.
Your PostPartum Recovery Kit
The postpartum recovery process can be less painful and less sore with some simple things to ease the transition. Check out these essentials to aid in quick recovery.
1. PostPartum Comfort Gel
You can use this gel for during and after pregnancy. Use it for perineal massage to relax things down there (and help prevent tearing) for birth. For postpartum it can be used to aid in a speedy recovery and also used to moisturize your newborn.
2. Postpartum Belly Wrap
Tame your flabby tummy with a postpartum belly wrap. Seriously, you NEED this to help tone your tummy but also help with Diastasis Recti. When I had my twins I wore a compression belt which helped a TON when it came time to lose the baby weight.
3. Nursing Bra
When you breastfeed you’ll need some nursing bras so you can breastfeed in public and ensure that your breasts aren’t constricted in a regular bra.
4. Nipple Cream
Lanolin cream is a MUST if you are breastfeeding. Your nipples will be raw, sensitive and may even bleed when you start breastfeeding. Relieve your breasts by putting on Lanolin nipple cream.
A bonus is that you can use Lanolin for other things like if you have a dry nose, dry hands, on your knees and elbows!
5. Sitz Bath Spray
Having a sitz bath after your first (or third) pregnancy is the holy grail of postpartum treatment. And using a sitz bath spray can soothe, relieve and make recovering a relaxing experience!
6. Stool Softener
Yes, getting a stool softener isn’t glamorous. But, with the constipation that happens after you giving birth, this is an essential for any new mom. To add, eating foods rich in fiber is a must too (that’s when those handy muffins for breakfast came in handy for me during my first week!).
This is a Joyous Time and It Will Get Better
Your first week as a new mom will be a whirlwind. With highs and lows, sore breasts and a fussy baby, you’ll find the joy every minute you see your new baby. And that first week will blur into the next and the next until taking care of your little one is more predictable (and less painful).
Over to you – tell me about your first week as a new mom! I want to hear your story!
Please pin me!