Overestimate postpartum recovery time! Seriously, like waaaay overestimate. Postpartum medical care generally ends after the six-week checkup, and hormones have usually evened out by that point. But studies have shown that it can take six months to a year to fully recover (physically and mentally) from childbirth. According to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing, it can take over eight months for pelvic floor recovery alone! There is absolutely no shame in asking for help! Actually, to aid in recovery, it is recommended that new mothers outsource some tasks. (Remember when we talked about establishing support before the baby is born??? Here it is coming into play once again.) If you can have others help with errands and chores (laundry, cleaning, making meals, etc.), that will make a huge difference. Don’t try to do it all, because that just might not be possible. Being tired and slightly overwhelmed is all completely normal — you can’t plan to accomplish much if you are the primary caregiver at home with baby. As stated in a previous blog, GO EASY ON YOURSELF! By doing yourself this favor, especially early on, it will help you in the long run. Trying to do too much will only extend your recovery time and possibly cause set backs.
It is one thing to ask someone to physically help you out once the baby is here, but sometimes we struggle with seeking support for the mental aspect. Nearly 80% of new moms will experience the "baby blues". Having someone to talk with about that is part of your recovery. It's important that you not feel alone or like the only person who has had mood swings, sadness, or anxiety after childbirth. Finding that person in your life who you trust and feel comfortable talking to about these things can be difficult. The PLC Health Clinic staff can be that person for you! You will receive the bonus of having both a trained and knowledgeable go to person as well as someone who genuinely cares about you and your mental health. Our staff can help you discern what is normal after childbirth blues and what might actually be post-partum depression that requires a doctor's care. Keep in mind, the risk for actual depression increases if you have a personal or family history of mental health problems; have experienced significant trauma; have a history of drug or alcohol problems; live in poverty; have major financial stressors; or if you don’t have a good social support system.
No matter your circumstance, the fact is this, even with adequate support there will be a wide range of emotions after the baby is born and that's ok, to a certain extent. The important part is recognizing when it isn't and getting the help you need.
*Resources available upon request.