A New Normal

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Many expectant parents wonder how long it takes for life to get back to normal after their new addition arrives. We hear our providers request a six week appointment to check healing, we hear six weeks of bleeding, and we hear about six week maternity leave. All the talk about six weeks leads us to believe that by six weeks we will be back to life as normal, feeling good, well rested, and back into our daily routines. While some adjust to a new normal by six weeks that is often the exception, not the rule. It is not uncommon to take several months to feel better physically and emotionally and even longer to find your new normal with your new family member. you will find your new normal, but it is unrealistic to expect to go back to your pre-baby normal.

As new parents you will have a lot to adjust to, but we cannot forget that the baby has a lot to adjust to as well. After nine months of never feeling hungry, always being held, and never getting too cold or too hot these first few months are a HUGE change. Baby’s personality and temperament will play a big role in how long it takes to find a new normal. Here is a great explanation of the adjustment for baby:
http://babycalm.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/the-fourth-trimester-aka-why-your-newborn-is-only-happy-in-your-arms-30/

Your childbirth experience, your hormones adjusting to post pregnancy levels, and the amount of support you have play roles in adjustment time. Regardless of how delivery goes you NEED rest! Your body just made a human, that is a huge thing and you need to recover. Limit stairs and do not over do it with too much walking in the early days and weeks. Your body will tell you when you have done too much. If your postpartum bleeding increases after being up and active that is your signal to go rest. Think of your uterus like a scab on your elbow, it seems healed but too much movement in the wrong way will cause it to bleed again. The drastic drop in hormones can make you emotionally fragile, surround yourself with people that can be sensitive to that. Do not be afraid to ask for help, practical help is a must and emotional support is just as necessary.

Sleep, you need it but it might seem impossible with an infant. It is possible to get enough sleep to cope, you just need to be more creative than before. I have heard new parents refer to their day as a series of naps. Think of how much sleep you used to need each night to function, now think about how you can get that over 24hrs rather than just at night. Day naps are essential to getting enough rest, even once your baby is older. In fact, you napping is beneficial to your baby http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23137338

All new parents need lots of support. Whether it is from grandma, online support groups, in person support groups, or hired help such as a postpartum doula, just be sure you have support in place. Adequate support can help you find that new normal faster and help you cope until you get there. Even If you are not expecting your first baby be prepared for change. Each baby and birth experience differ from the last and each set of struggles will vary. If you find it very difficult to cope contact your healthcare provider. Nine to fifteen percent of postpartum women experience postpartum depression, it is real and unfortunately common. Get support, it will help you to find that new normal much faster than ignoring it. Be flexible, open about your needs, and have realistic expectations. You will eventually feel “normal” again, albeit a new normal!

You will not immediately be up and about and be ready to get back to a fully scheduled life like before baby. It may take you six weeks, six months, even a year and that is okay. Do not compare yourself to other parents. One mom may have a c-section, another a quick delivery. One baby might sleep through the night by two months, another might suffer from reflux and be up constantly. There is no normal time frame as to when you NEED to have your new normal figured out. Often you will find a routine and things will change and you will be left starting almost from scratch. Focus on support, focus on your relationship with your partner ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704099704576288954011675900.html ), and above all relax and enjoy your sweet bundle of joy.