From all of us at Mellie Green a massive congratulations on the birth of your baby boy Archie Harrison.
We know how incredible, all consuming and overwhelming it is being a first time Mum so we just wanted to write you this little note to say “You Got this Mama”.
The first weeks of motherhood are an absolute whirlwind: a beautiful, painful, joyful, chaotic whirlwind. They are a blur of endless nappy changing and baby winding. Where the first days of your baby’s life will pass too quickly for comfort yet the nights can sometimes seem endless. These first weeks really are the epitome of both a physical and emotional rollercoaster.
Let’s start with the physical; you’ve just spent 9 months growing a human being inside of you, which even in the smoothest of pregnancies is an exhausting experience. You, like the majority of first time mothers, went past your “due date” / This in itself comes with its own difficulties of growing discomfort and anxiety over when you will finally go into labour. You not only had your family and friends enquiring if “there’s any news yet?’ but also the world’s media too, talk about pressure! Then the day finally arrives, you’re in labour and then you have to defer from your original plan of a home-birth and have a hospital transfer. Speaking from experience we know that can be stressful and throw you off your game a bit. We did hear that you’ve been practicing hypno-birthing so hopefully the breathing and visualisation tools helped you through and you found birth an empowering and incredible experience. Still, labour it is called and labour it is. There is no doubt about it, it is blooming hard work. Once those post birth endorphins wear off your body starts to feel the true impact of birth and that leaves you feeling pretty drained and exhausted. This is the point our letter finds you, post birth, exhausted, completely in love with your new bundle and a little unsure what’s going on with both yours and your baby’s bodies.
At this point, your stomach muscles have likely not come back together yet. You may feel like you look bloated or even a little pregnant and yet your stomach will have lost the firm feeling of pregnancy and feel, for want of a better word, squidgy, a very odd feeling but completely normal. For a lot of women the muscles separate during pregnancy (diastasis recti) and it can take up to around 8 weeks after birth for them to naturally come back together but if you have any concerns just have a chat to your GP. Your uterus is retracting back down each day, you know those after-pains that you’re feeling (which can be pretty damn strong particularly if you’re breastfeeding) that’s what they’re doing, slowly contracting your uterus back down to its non pregnant normal size.
Moving up, rock hard boobs? Again, very normal after birth and if you do choose to breastfeed just keep an eye on them as blocked ducts can lead to mastitis which is very common in the first few weeks
Moving back down, this is where you can have a whole host of discomfort and difficulties particularly if you’ve had to have stitches. Bleeding for up to 4 weeks can be normal as long as it is not excessive or passing clots. Your pelvic floor muscles have taken quite a beating too, keep practising those exercises and you will start to feel more “normal”again soon. Then there’s the thing that strikes fear into all Mothers post birth, the first post partum….shall we say bowel movements. Here’s a tip for you, you know the “down breathing” that you learned from hypno-birthing use that technique and you should help the damage limitation.
Most of us would expect to feel sore and struggle a bit physically the days and weeks following birth but the emotional post birth rollercoaster can be just as challenging. Your hormones attempting to return to normal after birth can play havoc with your emotions. Going from crying to complete joy in the space of a few minutes can be all part and parcel of normal post natal hormone fluctuations. You seem to have a good support team around you with your Mum and husband so if you do feel overly anxious, struggling to sleep or feel very low talk to them, your Health Visitor or any one that your trust. It is so important to talk, recognise if we feel low and never be ashamed to ask for help.
And then on top of everything you’ve gone through with the birth and now adjusting to becoming a mother it feels like you have all these people who want to meet the new addition. For some having visitors can feel daunting: you’re exhausted, maybe using several pillows and various positions to get baby to latch and feed well, you’re trying to catch some zzz’s whenever you can and yet you’re expected try and converse like you’ve had more than 3 hours sleep and pass the baby around whilst inwardly panicking if your visitors have washed their hands. And that’s just what it’s like for the rest of us who don’t have the Royal Family as in laws. Please remember that it is okay to say “not today”, to ask for visits to be brief or to ask for your sleeping baby not to be disturbed by well meaning eager cuddle seekers. It’s okay just to say No.
You are dealing with so much post birth and now you are also responsible for this whole other being, this perfect little person who is completely new yet feels like they have been a part of you forever. This little person has you pacing, rocking and ssshhing in vain attempts of getting them and yourself to sleep. They have you patting and rubbing their backs for one little burp. They have you googling “normal baby poo” at 3 in the morning and then “baby umbilical stump odour”at 3 in the afternoon. There’s a reason they call this period the fourth trimester, Archie has never experienced hunger, cold or pain until after birth. The world is noisy and the air is not as comfortable as the warm waters of the womb. He knows only you and you are what safe feels like, you are home, you are all he really knows…and that’s the reason he cries every damn time you put him down. It is wonderful but it hard in ways that you couldn’t have imagined before becoming a mother.
We shouldn’t overlook that important detail, when you gave birth to Archie you gave birth to a new facet of your identity; Mother. Motherhood is the hardest job but it’s not cliché to say it is even more rewarding. In these first weeks Mother becomes who we are completely and that is okay. It is also okay to want let those other parts of our self out too and do so without guilt. Take a morning to be Friend and go shopping, take an evening to be Wife and enjoy a date with your husband, take an hour to be Meghan and do Yoga or have a relaxing bath. And when you take the 3am feed, pick up your beautiful son and breathe him in deep, those nights are undoubtedly tough but there can too be a serene calmness in cradling your baby in the dark quiet when it is just you two.
Congratulations again and remember You Got This Mama!
Everyone at Mellie Green