Recovery from birth

As you prepare for birth, it is also helpful to think beyond labour and delivery, and to also start to think about how you may be feeling emotionally during the first few days or weeks after your child is born.

This time can be filled with great joy, happiness and wonder. However, it is also not uncommon to also experience some emotional challenges. Making yourself aware now – before you give birth – of what these challenges may be will help you to have realistic expectations of what this time may look like for you and be prepared for the hurdles that you may face.

Recovery from birth

In most cases giving┬ábirth, especially to your first baby, can be physically and emotionally exhausting – for both parents, and recovery from birth can take time.

For women there may be an experience of pain and discomfort, and, depending on the outcome of the birth it may take some time to recover physically from the birth process – particularly if you had experienced a traumatic birth and/or aftercare. Physical recovery varies greatly from hours to days, weeks or even months. For partners also, the birth experience can be physically and emotionally draining, and this can also take a toll on their feelings of stress and feeling exhausted.

It is important to give yourself time to recover.

Where possible try and both get some rest whenever you have the opportunity. Creating opportunities for this in advance can be very helpful. For example, if partners are able to take some time off work to catch up on sleep and help with the settling of the new baby this benefits everyone.

Try and arrange some time just for yourselves each day – even if it is to have a shower, catch up on some sleep, go for a walk or read. If you have other children, where possible try and arrange for them to spend time with others initially, to give you some time and space to get your energy levels back.

The baby blues

In the early days following birth, women may experience a temporary condition commonly known as ‘the baby blues’.

For women, the baby blues usually occur between the third to the fifth day after having their baby, and can leave them feeling very distressed and/or emotional. Often women describe feeling very teary, or sometimes irritable. These overwhelming feelings are completely normal and natural, and are due to the sudden change in your hormone levels following the birth.

I didn’t get the baby blues with my first child, but I did with my second. I remember it was my last day in hospital and I felt so emotional and upset about everything. I couldn’t stop crying and was looking for reasons why I was so upset.

The baby blues is very common. Up to 80 percent of women experience this, and you may experience the condition with one child but not another. They will usually disappear within a few days, and there is generally no need for any treatment other than understanding, rest and support.

However, if these symptoms do not pass on their own and continue on, it may be a sign of another type of mental health condition like postnatal depression or postnatal anxiety, in which case it is important to seek help.

My worries didn’t start until I got home really, while in hospital I had the classic baby blues symptoms but they never really seemed to go away entirely.

Too often women delayed seeking help for what was postnatal depression and or anxiety, because they thought it was simply the baby blues, and that it would go away on it’s own. The faster you seek advice about this and if there is a need for treatment, the faster you will be able to get on top of this, which is important for you and your family.

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