Yesterday, we shared some information on the 4th trimester.
We mentioned how there’s not enough said to prepare moms on what to expect during the first three months of your baby’s life.
Like I said, it’s not just sleep deprivation, but changes emotionally, mentally and physically. The way I’m hearing it is: 1) there’s the difficulty of transition for the baby from inside the womb to the outside world, and 2) there’s also difficulty for moms.
Number two takes place between the time when the baby comes out and when you’re really settled in as one big happy family. It’s a few months in between – essentially when you’ve gotten into the swing of things. I also liken this to how Natalie Gordon of Baby List described one of her 4th trimester obstacles: the time of “getting my head around ‘I am a mom…'”
When I first chatted with Mommy Expert Sena about joining my group on Tyckled Tales, I knew I would be fortunate to have her participate because I loved that Sena was so open and honest about what it was like for her during the early stages of being a mom. She genuinely wanted to pass on her knowledge. And one topic she has been very real about is life as a new mom during this in between period we speak of.
Today, I feature a Q&A with Mommy Expert Sena sharing her experience on the 4th trimester, the changes you undergo, and The Baby Blues.
You’re very big on sharing the changes a new mom undergoes during the first few months mentally, emotionally and physically. Can you elaborate on what you mean?
There isn’t a lot of information out there on what to expect between the time of when your baby pops out to when you actually settle down and become a real, happy family.
For me, the first 6-8 weeks were really tough.
After I left the hospital, I had no idea what to expect, what was going on, what was happening. When I left the hospital, they gave me some paper that I guess was supposed to explain everything, but I’m sure I was like most new moms, who couldn’t even glance at it. I mean, who has time to read through that right after giving birth and then jumping into your new role? I wish someone had sat me down before I went into labor to explain those things, so this is why I’m sharing this today.
In an exchange I had with Mommy Expert Josephine, this is what she shared about her experience during the 4th trimester.
“Baby Blues – nobody really talks about this too much. It’s a natural occurring thing that every new mom will feel, with varying degrees. It’s a combination of lack of sleep, hormones, and just the newness of the baby that goes into baby blues. I went from a confident woman before the baby to not knowing what to do with the baby and unsure of everything I was doing. I couldn’t think for myself and relied a lot on my husband. There were a lot of tears and emotions the first few months.”
Would you agree with that?
Absolutely! Here’s how I would break down the baby blues in more details.
Mentally & Emotionally
Your hormones are crazy after giving birth and they are trying to balance themselves out. The littlest things make you cry, and I don’t mean just drops of tears you dab dry here and there, but crying uncontrollably. Every mom I talked to say they had it too, which makes sense. Why? In a recent BabyCenter article I read called, “The Baby Blues,” it said that “up to 80 percent of new moms experience them.”
My husband, Rodney, wanted to comfort me and was supportive because he knew I was sad, but I could tell from his facial expressions that he thought I was crazy… because there were no specific reasons why I was acting that way. So to all you expecting dads, take note of this!
Bottom-line: It becomes an emotional roller coaster.
Then mentally, you have all these feelings of anxiety and fear. I became really scared because it hit me that my baby was dependent all on me. I had never done this before. It scared the hell out of me.
In addition to that, you start to have feelings of anger and self-doubt. I started to feel I was letting people down because I was not perfect. I was up and down for no reason, having these fears, and it made me question everything I was doing – just like Josephine describes. You blame yourself.
But then, every time you look at the baby and see your baby’s eyes, you are happy. It makes you realize that you have this amazing bond with this child – it’s an incredible feeling that you never knew could exist.
All these emotions are going through you ALL AT ONCE mentally and emotionally.
The physical changes after birth were also another major adjustment that I was never prepared for.
First, you assume that after you have your baby, your belly sort of shrinks back and then you just work on the baby weight. And then you don’t look like a pregnant woman anymore, right? Well, not quite. A day or two after I had Olivia while I was in my hospital gown, my dad said to my mom, “She just had a baby. How come she still looks like she has a baby inside?”
Okay, wrong thing to say (a whole other blog post in my opinion on what to say and what not to say) because it starts to trigger everything. In my head, I felt like I must have looked so bad if my dad was commenting on my weight like that.
I learned that people tend to think your body bounces back quickly and they let you know it. Sure, we know that baby weight will take some time to take off, but your belly doesn’t just deflate. Sadly.
I also never knew how swollen I would be. I was so swollen after labor that I couldn’t fit my shoes or even my socks for two weeks! This was definitely something that came as a shock to me. Why didn’t anyone prepare me for this?
During labor, many women will tear down there while giving birth. You have to get stitched up afterwards, and I had no idea how much that would hurt or how much pain I would go through trying to go to the bathroom for a week after labor.
Feeling like a cow and.
Either your baby is attached to you during breastfeeding, or you’re pumping, and your breasts are engorged or sagging. I thought I should be mooing during this time.
You have a gut that is squishy. Something you didn’t expect because you thought it would have relatively quickly gone back to some normalcy.
Your hip bones are stretched. Your hips widen to allow the baby to pass through during birth, and it never really quite goes back. After I lost all my baby weight, I still couldn’t wear my old jeans. And now that I am on my second baby, I assumed they wouldn’t get wider, but they have.
Sweets and candy galore. I went through ravenous cravings for sweets while I was breast pumping. My appetite was equivalent to what it would feel like after burning all those calories from running a marathon. I would also get really thirsty and drink what felt like gallons of water a day (and I know you’ll talk more about nutrition post-pregnancy, so I can’t wait to read that!).
Not feeling attractive.
I didn’t feel like I looked good, and I tried to avoid the cameras as much as possible. And if people did take photos, I’d feel really embarrassed. And to make it worse, people would make comments such as, “Oh, you still have baby fat.” Well, seriously, what do you expect? All this takes a toll on your self-esteem.
Uncontrollable bladder. Huge shocker.
After giving birth to Olivia, I realized I was having issues controlling my bladder. I couldn’t hold my pee. It would dribble out all the time, but fortunately I was already wearing pads for my postpartum recovery, which I know you’ll talk more about. But this scared the crap out of me. Finally during my six week checkup with my doctor, I finally asked if something was wrong with me. She said it was normal, and that you actually have it for 6-8 months. And then she said if I was still having issues with it beyond that, then we could talk about it. All I kept thinking was why on earth was this never explained to me early on…
So what can you do to prepare for this and get through it?
My point here is: you know labor is hard, you know you will be sleep deprived because it’s hard work and a lot of adjustment, but the changes you go through as a new mom don’t ever seem to get shared publicly… or they are but not in real doses.
I think the knowledge of existence as Vivian said in yesterday’s post is what will help new moms.
KEY TIP: Know that things will happen and you are not alone. Talk to other moms. It’s better to not be caught off guard.
All moms will tell you that in the beginning, they were so sleep deprived that you just do the bare minimum to get by. That often means not even showering because you don’t have to. For me personally, not being able to sleep was torture. If I don’t get enough sleep, I am short tempered and my patience wears down dramatically. That, and with my hormones during the early days meant I was a ticking time bomb just snapping at my husband. And I knew that if I continued at that rate for weeks, his patience would wear down, and he’d snap back. Not a good combo. I even felt it with my mom who would try to help, and would irritate me and then my actions would irritate her. I think that’s why Annika said in yesterday’s post to let your mom help even if you’re hormonal. I think these are things you should be aware of so you can set yourself straight when it happens.
I also think it’s helpful to lean on your friends and family. Make sure they are supportive.
KEY TIP: Have your spouse, family and friends help you create a schedule.
I am a big fan of the books from “The Baby Whisperer.” The authors talk about creating a routine for your baby following the acronym E.A.S.Y. which stands for: Eat, Activity, Sleep, and You time (during the sleep).
To learn more about “The Baby Whisperer,” here’s an old but good CBS News interview with one of the authors, Melinda Blau, called “Tips From’ The Baby Whisperer'”.
If your spouse, family and friends can help you focus on creating a schedule and sticking to your schedule, it can help with the transition. To give you an idea, here’s a sample schedule.
Note: This is just a sample schedule because when you feed on demand, it can be more frequently than every three hours….As a new mom, you goal is to just help the baby adjust and make them comfortable!
Any last thoughts?
Despite everything, it is so worth it.
What have you heard about the 4th trimester and the baby blues that Mommy Expert Sena didn’t cover?