I will never forget those first few hours as a new Mom. My labor was long, incredibly so (36 hours in fact) and after that initial elation of watching our new baby enter the world, my partner and mother went home and left me all alone, our tiny little daughter in the crib by my side. It was a very surreal feeling and quite a rollercoaster of emotions. I found myself wondering how any one ever thought I was grown up enough to have a child of my own, with no test to pass or certificate of competence to achieve beforehand.
From my own experience, here’s what to expect in those early hours with a newborn:
Emotion central – After giving birth, it is very common for your emotions to be a little all over the place. Think complete and utter exhaustion mixed with total elation. I found myself looking at my partner in a whole new light – I loved him before we became parents, but seeing him with my daughter, OUR baby girl, made the love I felt for him escalate to a whole new level. One minute I couldn’t stop smiling, beaming at my daughter’s tiny little nose and mouth, and the next I wanted to cry that she was finally here and that I was no longer pregnant – all very bizarre.
The wobbly tummy – Before labor, I’d never really given any thought to what would happen to my body after the baby came out, but that surreal feeling of an incredibly jelly like wobbly tummy and still looking a good 6 months pregnant came as more than a bit of a surprise. Having been quite used to using my bump as a handy shelf for drinks and books (true story!), I did feel a sudden surge of sadness that my bump was no longer around.
Babies first poop – Well wow, that really is a joy. No one really tells you this but a babies’ first poop is pretty gross. My eldest did hers fairly quickly, all over my Mother’s arm and what a lovely black sticky mess it was. Trying to clean your babies bottom when it appears to be covered in tar can be quite an experience. You’ll be pleased to know that it soon changes color – to green. Lovely.
Dreaming of sleep – You may find yourself unable to sleep even though you are shattered, sitting watching your baby breathe, checking they’re ok, or simply admiring their tiny hands and toes. Cluster feeding is also incredibly common, meaning that even when you do want to be sleeping, you are more likely to be pacing the floor with a small newborn attached to your pyramid shaped breasts.
Bleeding – even if you have had a cesarean birth, some heavy bleeding (lochia) after your baby is born is pretty unavoidable, and is a little like a heavy period. You may also experience some mild contractions as your uterus reduces in size, which at times felt like my baby was still inside of me!
Dreading the first toilet visit – After labor, you may find your first poop a little difficult, especially if you have torn during the birth or had an episiotomy and stitches. You may also feel a little constipated, so drinking lots of water and being as mobile as you can will help.
Visitors – put yourself and your baby first – whilst you may have a whole list of people wanting to come to visit, don’t feel like you have to say yes straight away. If you have other children, concentrate on introducing your child to their sibling first, and worry about guests when you are back home and in your own comfortable environment.
I am conscious that this sounds like quite the mixed bundle of experiences, but it really is nothing to fear. We are not planning to have any more children, so for me, those moments are something that I will cherish for many years to come. Enjoy them, these are the first of many precious memories!