Emotional and lifestyle changes

The physical changes and complaints of the postpartum period are only part of life after having a baby — and, some women would say, the easy part. As you and your partner get to know your baby and begin to bond as a family, your feelings will probably be more intense and fluctuating than you expected, and the stresses may be more overwhelming than anticipated. Caring for a new baby is a demanding and exhausting job that can turn your life upside down.

During the postpartum weeks, most women are nervous about their ability to deal with the new responsibilities. You may have concerns about losing your pre-baby freedom and identity, finding time for yourself, bonding with your baby, juggling all of your other responsibilities and maintaining a good relationship with your partner. Mood swings are common, as are the baby blues and feelings of depression. Exhaustion, lack of sleep and hormone changes can contribute to your emotional struggles.

It may help if you accept the reality that your life is going to be chaotic or topsy-turvy for the foreseeable future. You probably won't be getting a good night's sleep for a while, and showers, sit-down meals and time alone may be rare treats at first. But even though your first year as a new mother is likely to be challenging, it will probably also be more joyful and energizing than you ever imagined. The demands on your time, energy and emotional resources can be difficult, but you and your partner can take steps to make this time easier.

Recovering from a Caesarean birth

If you had a Caesarean birth, you can expect a few additional discomforts and precautions during the postpartum period. See Chapter 12, "Caesarean birth," page 187, for information about recovering from a Caesarean birth.

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