Arriving Home With Your Newborn And Feeling Blue
You have spent nine months carrying your precious newborn and you have enjoyed each and every kick and tumble.
You feel truly blessed to be bringing a baby in to the world. A much longed-for and already loved perfect bundle. Hours have been spent perfectly packing your hospital bag. The baby’s first outfit has been carefully chosen and it’s now just a matter of waiting for the magical arrival. You are ready to be a mother.
But what if on that faithful day you feel completely terrible? You arrive home to balloons, soft blankets and boxes of chocolates but all you want to do is cry in to a pillow. You couldn’t feel more blessed to have welcomed your beautiful baby in to the world but you have genuinely never felt worse.
This is the reality for many mothers who have just given birth. It is not to take away from the magic of giving birth or becoming a parent or to put a negative spin on the experience. It is just part and parcel of the event. It just happens to be a part that I absolutely was not expecting in any way.
The NHS states that “even just walking and moving about can seem like hard work” when you have just given birth. You may have had stitches, an episiotomy or a Caesarean. As you try to breastfeed your baby it can be very difficult to find a comfortable position in between the aches, pains and the blistering tiredness. I think I expected to skip out of the maternity hospital and feel like a new woman. The entire pregnancy focuses on the moment you meet your baby but perhaps more emphasis should be placed on the fact that the mother needs quite a bit of care herself.
The baby blues can sneak in very subtly too. One minute you feel happy and the next you are hysterically crying as you look at your tiny baby. You find yourself fearing for their future and wanting to protect them from anything that is harmful or scary.
In the midst of all of this there is a newborn baby who requires milk, nappy changes, baths and lots of skin to skin. It can feel utterly overwhelming. It is a time where you must give so much of yourself and yet “your body will be recovering from the labour and the birth”. It is a time where the mother and father need as much help as possible.
Skin to skin is actually a really important way of helping you recover after the birth. Holding your baby close to you will help both emotionally and physically. It will help with your milk production, soothe your baby and breastfeeding will encourage your Uterus to contract and heal in the way it knows best. People will usually offer to help in the form of holding or attending to your baby when in fact this is probably the last thing you need help with.
If a friend or family member offers to cook you a meal or do a load of laundry, accept their offer. Set up camp, have lots of snacks to hand and do what you have to do to feel comfortable for the next couple of days. It can be daunting for the father who may feel as though he does not know what to do to help. Communication and understanding is key. It is a time where you both need as much support from each other as possible.
And then it passes. Bit by bit you begin to feel more and more like yourself. In between the aches, pains, piles and sleep deprivation you learn an entirely new way of looking at the world. The days seem brighter, the housework doesn’t seem to matter as much and you have never felt more privileged or needed. You are a parent!