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Emotional Rollercoaster Postpartum

The time after you have a baby is filled with change as the reality of having newborn and becoming a parent come into your life.

As overwhelming as it may seem at times, remember that you only have a newborn for a month, and you only have an infant for a year. The difficulties you are facing now will pass and things will get better, you have to hang in there and trust the process, much like you did during pregnancy. That said, it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s important and necessary to ask for help from people in your social circles - your partner, family, friends, neighbours and beyond.
-My body is never going to be the same
It took nine or ten months for your body to grow a baby, and it will take time for it to get back to a new normal. There is no such thing as “bouncing back” and it takes time to grow into your new role of being a mother. It’s OK to take all the time you need and get all the help you need to do this. You’ll be shocked to see how much your body changes in just the first six weeks postpartum, and how much you start to feel like yourself again only a few months after birth.
- Sex has changed forever
The vagina is an amazing organ, it stretches and grows and then shrinks again, it is a source of life and pleasure. That said, it takes a few weeks (or even months) for sex to feel really good again. Be patient, try different positions and allow time for foreplay, use lubricants, be creative about where and when you have sex (because, sleeping baby). Intimacy is more than sex and carving out an hour or two for you and your partner by asking grandparents to watch baby can work wonders for your relationship.
-I feel all touched out
When you have a newborn it’s normal to feel like you have had enough of people touching you. It doesn’t make you a bad parent or partner, it doesn’ t mean you have lost interest in your partner or your baby but it does mean that you might need to take some time for yourself. This doesn’t have to be extravagant - running a warm bath, reading a book in the park while your baby sleeps in a stroller, or asking your partner or loved ones to take over baby care for a few hours can be very helpful. This period may feel like it lasts forever, but it won’t.
-My relationship with my partner will never be the same
The postpartum period is a huge challenge for every relationship. It’s important to be open to communication, to share exactly what you need and to listen to each other, even if you don’t understand each other’s viewpoints. Be constructive, talk about your needs instead of blaming each other for not meeting them and make sure to let your partner ease into his own role as a parent. He’s not the same as you and that’s OK, you’re both learning.
-I can’t do this
Here’s the thing - you are doing it. Every day, every minute, you are being the best parent you can be, and that is enough. That said, it’s OK to ask for help and to tell loved ones exactly what you need to help you on your parenting journey. From caring for baby for an hour or two, preparing a meal or helping out with errands or chores, ask. People want to help but need to know how.
-I can’t get anything done
Also called “I should be doing … instead of caring for the baby or myself.” Many parents experience it in the first months of intensively caring for a newborn. Yes, it’s true that it takes you a longer time to do things than before baby was born and that’s OK. Concentrate on what you are getting done and enlist as much help as you can for the rest. Reframe your thinking - I am sleeping when my baby sleeps because right now, rest is more important to my baby and I than clean dishes are. Not being perfect is the new normal. It’s up to you to choose your priorities – and remember, your baby will only be happy when you are happy.
-I’m being judged for my choices
Parents, especially mothers, are a common target for unsolicited advice and judgement. There are two things to keep in mind here: one is that sometimes it’s not that someone is judging you so much that you feel guilty about a choice of yours and you are projecting that on others. Ask yourself if you are feeling guilty and if you are, think about why your choice was right for you and why you shouldn’t feel guilty for it. Second, the judgement you are getting tells you more about the person who is
judging than it does about you. Looking at it from that perspective can help you distance yourself from what you are being told. In reality, if we are comfortable with our choices and respect each
other’s choices, there is no need to start up a parenting war. Do your part not to propagate them by doing the same to other families.
-Who am I anymore?
You are who you were before having a baby, with the added identity of being a parent in addition to all the identities you had before. In the short run, you are probably giving all your energy and time to your newborn, but this will change as your baby grows and you will have more time for yourself again. Be open to the change, you are a better person for it, and know that in the next few months you will have time for yourself again. If you need that time sooner rather than later, ask your partner, family and friends to step in and support you.
-I feel alone and isolated
Spending the majority of your time caring for a newborn at home is a sure way to start craving adult conversation and company. Take your baby to cafes, baby and parent programs, library programs, family and community events, anything that helps you to feel connected to other adults. You don’t need to lock yourself up inside – it’s worth making the effort and getting out with baby. Other parents with children the same age as yours can be a huge source of support through your parenting
-I don’t know if I have postpartum depression
There’s a lot of talk in the media about postpartum depression, but postpartum anxiety and post-birth stress syndrome are also different things parents (yes, it’s not just about mothers!) can experience.

Take Away Messages
• Your body and your emotions are going through new experiences (and showing you symptoms) that may be strange and new to you, but are very normal and expected
• Your emotions, mental health and relationships are as important as your physical health and deserve (and need!) your attention.
•Call your midwife or doctor immediately if you are having any of these symptoms:
• Feel deep pain, swelling, redness, warmth or tenderness in your legs (especially in your calves)
• Changes in your vision, dizziness, headache, pain on your right side or in your shoulder, trouble breathing or sudden swelling in your hands, arms and face
• Chest pain or gasping for air
• Feel confused, faint, have chills or are very cold
Call your midwife or doctor within a few hours if you are having
any of these symptoms in the week after birth and beyond:
• Fever over 38C (sometimes, fever can be normal postpartum, to help you ”sweat out” the excess fluid from pregnancy, but you should report anything over 38C to your midwife or doctor).
• Discharge, pain or redness that doesn’t go away and gets worse around a caesarean cut, episiotomy or vaginal tear
Call your midwife or doctor within a few hours if you are having
any of these symptoms a week or more after birth:
• Pain or burning when you pee, pain in your lower back or needing to pee very often
• Severe pain in your lower belly after your afterpains have ended
• Vaginal discharge that smells bad or very different

Try this
Write affirmations like these on a piece of paper and put in a visible place you pass by regularly. Repeat them a few times a day:
• I deserve to care for myself every day
• I am a great mom
• I am doing my best and that is enough
• It’s OK that it takes longer to get things done
• I am surrounding myself with people who love and support me
• My baby is growing quickly and it’s ok to want to spend time with her
• I won’t spoil my baby if I carry her and breastfeed her on demand
• I know I can (and I will) ask for help when I need it