Postpartum is defined as the period of time after childbirth. This can be divided into the hours after birth, the 6 weeks after birth or the 6 months or more after birth. It is also known as the “fourth trimester”.
What is postpartum like for a new mom?
Postpartum, or those first few months after giving birth are hard y’all!
Even if you are the most chill and positive person, and your baby is super chill as well, and your birth was easy peasy. At the end of the day, the postpartum period will still be some degree of hard.
Your pregnancy and birth hormones are all over the place, doing their thing. You are sleep deprived and exhausted- physically, emotionally, and mentally. Your body is recovering from birth-whether vaginal, or c-section. If you’re breast-feeding you’re trying to figure that whole thing out. And you are experiencing a life changing event.
Obviously, overall, the postpartum period will differ from woman to woman. We are different, our birth experiences are different, and our babies are different-so how we experience postpartum will be different.
Things like your personality and outlook on life, how you perceive and process things, how your birth went, your baby’s personality, how much support you have, and whether or not you get postpartum depression/anxiety, along with a lot of other things, will all affect your postpartum experience. I share some more details and tips about my postpartum experience in 9 Postpartum Things I Didn’t Expect.
Having a positive attitude and perspective definitely makes getting through the hard moments easier. I think Thomas-the-Train, with his whole “I think I can” mantra was on to something.
My Postpartum Story
Due to having infertility issues for about 10 years, my husband and I got used to a sort of slow-and-easy lifestyle. He and I worked full-time throughout this time and we had a lot of quiet evenings. We could go out whenever we wanted to, and we got plenty of sleep and peace and quiet. So for me having a baby, and becoming a stay-at-home mom was definitely a big life adjustment.
I had a wonderful birth experience and delivered our sweet baby boy. It just so happens that our long-awaited, beautiful baby boy Lucas was definitely not chill in those first few months, or a good sleeper, and I am the type of person who tends to get overly anxious and was going through postpartum anxiety. So as you can imagine, this was a recipe for hard times ahead.
We quickly realized that our little man may be a bit of a “high-needs” baby, and possibly colicky. He was very demanding, expressive and vocal. He wanted to be held, snuggled, rocked, and nursed all the time. He went through months of evening fussiness, where he was inconsolable from around 6pm-12am. We got through that time by either me nursing him, or my husband and I taking turns rocking and bouncing him on the exercise ball for hours. He woke up every 1-2 hours for months. There were days were I felt like my baby hates me. When he would be calm for others and fussy and wailing for me. And then feeling guilty and like a “bad mom” that I can’t calm my baby.
There were definitely days and nights when, exhausted, hormonal and overwhelmed, I would cry and repeat to myself: “I can do this. This will pass. This is not permanent. It will get easier. I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.”
Throughout this time, I did a lot of Googling and searching about “high-needs” and colicky babies, the fourth trimester, and postpartum anxiety. I was so glad to find information and stories that other moms and experts shared that I could relate to; it gave me comfort and made me feel less alone.
Here are some of those stories and resources:
- The postpartum and anxiety post by the sweet Lindsey of Sparrows and Lily. I came across this post during a very difficult week full of exhaustion, postpartum anxiety and overwhelm. Her encouragement towards the end of her post was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. I sat there in my rocking chair, holding my baby, with tears streaming down my face as her sweet words of comfort and encouragement filled my heart. Sharing our stories can have such power.
- The Fussy Baby Site by Holly Klassen, who shares a lot of good information on high needs and colicky babies.
- Ask Dr Sears. All the high-needs baby information you could ever need.
- The Wonder Weeks Book or App was also helpful. Just knowing that my baby was going through the next developmental leap, and wasn’t just being fussy for no reason, gave me peace of mind.
- The spiritual discipline with a newborn post by the sweet Abbey from Gentle Leading. Time with God is so needed, but looks so different with a newborn. This post encouraged me to adjust my expectations, make the most of my time, and still teach the truth to my tired and weary body and mind.
- Amy, of Balanced Ames. I found Amy on instagram while I was still pregnant with Lucas. She had her second baby a few months before me, and I loved following her along during the newborn months. I love that she keeps it real and authentic, is filled with positive vibes, and has a growth mindset. She shares real, everyday life with 2 kids under 2- the hard parts, the happy parts and everything in between. Along with tips on keeping your marriage healthy during motherhood.
Things Get Easier
I like to compare my postpartum experience to learning a new job or skill. In the beginning you feel so lost, and don’t really know what you’re doing- but then, slowly but surely, you start getting the hang of it.
I learned that moms and babies have different personalities and temperaments, and not to compare my baby to other babies, or myself to other moms. No one really knows what they’re doing anyway. We’re all winging it and doing our best.
After a while, I got used to the new routine. Eventually my baby stopped freaking out for no reason as he got older and I started feeling more confident in what I was doing as a mom. We started to get to know each other better. I could read his cues and learned what he wanted. How he wanted to be held, comforted, or played with. I learned when he was hungry or tired. We learned and grew together, he as a baby, and me as a mom.
Throughout all this time, even though it was hard, my husband and I were so overjoyed with this new gift we received. We were so in love with our baby and grateful to God for this miracle blessing in our life.
The thing is that you can love your baby with all your heart, stay positive, and be grateful, while still admitting that this is a hard season- and sometimes you cry. Because this season is draining in every way, and it doesn’t always feel immediately rewarding.
The Good News
The good news is that ultimately we have Jesus who we can come to with the seasons in our life that feel like more than we can handle. He is not unsympathetic to our struggles and He will always bring us through. We can turn to Him and He will sit with us and listen. He will comfort, encourage and strengthen us.
He is always there for us to turn to, to be our comfort and strength. And that is what I did. I prayed a lot, I sang songs, I read the Bible, I listened to worship music, I wrote in my journal. The supernatural peace, encouragement, and strength I received is hard to describe. But I did, and I came through those hard hours and days by the grace of God.
The other good news is that eventually it gets easier, and we forget a lot of the hard moments, and actually start missing the sweet moments of the precious newborn stage.
I think God, in His infinite wisdom, made sure of this, which is why many women go on to have more than one baby. Through the hard experiences we grow, and we learn, and we get stronger.
To the mamas out there barely hanging on, I see you- please give yourself grace and kindness. And to the women out there wishing for a little one to hold, I see you too, and I was there for 10 years. It’s easy to feel guilty because I should just feel grateful, right? And I am so very grateful. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t hard days. And I think admitting and sharing that is OK.
What about you?
Would you share your postpartum experience as a first time mom? I’d love to hear about it. We connect, encourage and feel less alone when we share our stories. Let me know in the comments below.