Angie’s Postpartum Guide: Week 1
October 19, 2015
Why do all the guides and updates stop when the baby is born? Taking care of myself was the easy part, I need more help figuring out what to do with a brand new little human outside the womb than inside. Fortunately, the Owlet blog has tons of useful postpartum articles (like this one), and you can also follow my 6-week postpartum journey for a more specific look at what to expect after your baby is born.
This is probably the best way to describe the first week home from the hospital:
No matter what my nurses and family told me, it was way too hard to get rest in the hospital. Oh I was plenty tired, but there is just so much going on and so much excitement surrounding a new baby that I didn’t want to miss a thing. Not to mention my baby needed to nurse every few hours and got tests every few hours as well. I went into labor early on a Sunday morning and got home from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon. I probably got 4 hours of sleep in between that time. With my first baby, I kept a pretty organized, rigid schedule of feeding and sleeping. With this baby, I thought it was still Wednesday on Friday. But I was happy. It was an exhausted, slightly neurotic happy – but happy nevertheless.
Another very accurate depiction of the first week home from the hospital is illustrated below:
Chaos. Utter chaos. Utter yellow chaos because… baby poop and baby boy diaper changes. I don’t remember ever changing a boy’s diaper before my son’s, but I quickly learned the risks and am diligent about covering him up with a wipe for the duration of the diaper change to prevent any geysers from going off.
Other things to deal with during week 1 of recovery are, well, recovery of course, adjusting to breastfeeding, seeing baby’s umbilical cord fall off, giving baby the first bath, and trying to figure out what clothes to wear.
Recovery “Down Unduh”
Perhaps the most obvious hurdle during the first week after birth is navigating the bathroom. I had some tearing that was minor but nevertheless made this super fun. Whether or not you tear or have an episiotomy, don’t expect things to go back to normal “down there” for a while. And my best advice: do NOT take a mirror down there. Be diligent about using the witch hazel pads and the other goodies the hospital gives you. Most likely that will include some sort of pain relief spray or foam, some giant diaper-like pads, a special water bottle for spraying your sore area, and some ice pack pads. I asked the nurse for extras of everything before I left the hospital because I remember running out of everything with my first and wishing I had more. She was more than willing to hook me up.
During the first week of recovery I tried not to miss a dose of the pain medicine I was prescribed. I made that mistake with my first baby: I thought I felt great and didn’t need to take any more pain meds, and then when it wore off I was miserable. Turns out if you think you feel great and don’t need more meds, it’s because you’re on the meds. And it’s not just recovering from delivery I needed the pain meds for. It was breastfeeding, too.
Initiation into the Nursing Club
In my experience, the first week of breastfeeding is the worst. Literally, day 7 of breastfeeding has been the absolute worst and most painful for both of my babies. My baby latched and nursed great, my milk came in while I was still in the hospital, and everything otherwise went smoothly. The lactation consultant in the hospital told me that basically the nipple just has to adjust to constantly being sucked on. Makes sense. The nipples just have to go through an initiation process before they’re fully accepted into the breastfeeding club. Thankfully, Lansinoh makes a lanolin cream for sore nipples that does wonders, but still doesn’t stop the pain. And on this dreaded day 7, I can say that the pain was enough to bring tears to my eyes, make me grit my teeth and have to grip the armrest of the chair just to bear the pain. I probably should’ve taken more pain meds on this day.
But just like magic, the next day is miraculously easier. The difference is literally day and night. It suddenly hardly hurt at all, and a few days later didn’t hurt one bit, and is a total piece of cake from here on out. So if you’re planning on breastfeeding, understand that there will be a painful adjustment period, as there probably would be for any part of your body that would be constantly sucked on, but it will pass and it will be a miniscule period of time and amount of pain compared to the benefits you and your baby will reap from breastfeeding, in my experience.
Umbilical Cord and First Bath
There are two major events to look forward to during the first week after baby is born: the umbilical cord falling off (although this sometimes happens in the 2nd week) and then the first bath. My son’s cord fell off right before he hit the 1 week mark. It freaked me out because it was at the doctor’s office as I was taking off his onesie so he could be weighed, and I saw it stuck to the inside of his onesie. I’m not gonna lie – it was pretty shocking and disgusting. There was still a little piece in his belly button and some blood, but fortunately I was at the doctor’s office and asked her to look at it right then and there, and she assured me it looked “beautiful.” I don’t know if that’s the word I would’ve chosen to describe it, but I was relieved nonetheless.
So once his cord was off he was able to be bathed! I was so nervous to bathe him for the first time. He was just so little and fragile and soft, I felt like any amount of friction on his little skin would make it raw. But it wasn’t as hard or painful as I thought. I have a little mesh tub with built in “wings” that wrap around his belly to keep him in place and warm. It takes all of 30 seconds to gently wash and rinse a newborn. Then the best part – baby lotion. There’s nothing better than a freshly-bathed baby wrapped up in your arms.
What the heck do I wear?
But when it came to my own bathing and dressing, it suddenly wasn’t so cute. The first week postpartum was a bit tricky, as my uterus hadn’t fully contracted down so I still looked 6-7 months pregnant. Regular clothes just didn’t fit yet, for the most part. Thank goodness for my heaven-sent, beloved leggings. I found a killer deal from Very Jane for some slimming fleece-lined leggings, and bought some in every color. In case you don’t know, “slimming” is code for “paneled,” as in non-maternity panel pants. HOO-freaking-RAY!! I was NOT feeling any sort of waistband around my midsection, or any type of material that didn’t have significant stretching abilities, so these were perfect. And if you even THINK about hating on me for wearing leggings pretty much 24/7, this is for you:
Week 1 is definitely the hardest week of recovery. Once I lost all of my expectations for any sort of routine or normalcy for a while, it became much easier to just focus on taking care of myself and my baby. No to-do lists, no errands, no stress – just doing what needs to be done, soaking in the bliss of having a newborn snuggled up to me constantly, and watching ridiculous amounts of The Walking Dead on Netflix in the meantime.
How was your first week of recovery after childbirth? Any experiences, tips, or things that you didn’t expect? Share below!
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