When your body goes through these changes, it’s easy to be hard on yourself. On one side you lose some confidence after having a baby, but on the other, you just gave birth to a human being, and that’s something to be so proud of!
Gianni, 30, USA
"Before the birth of my little girl, I just knew that I wanted to do the best I could. I had some issues with my blood pressure during the pregnancy, and in the back of my mind, I knew that the hospital staff might suggest inducing me. Sure enough, the day that I had her, I had to be induced due to mild preeclampsia.
I was worried as I didn’t know how my body would react to being induced, but I knew that I was going to have my doula and my husband there as my support team, and that I wanted to go unmedicated. Luckily, everything went smoothly. I had a vaginal birth as planned, and the whole thing went by pretty quickly.
Our little girl was healthy, but she did have to go back into hospital 24 hours after we arrived home to receive jaundice treatment, which was a low moment for us because you expect to get home and be able to rest. Plus, we were moving house later that week, crazy right?!
With regards to my mental health during the postpartum period, I often felt ‘underwater’. With so much going on after my little girl’s birth and the fact that my husband had to go back to work, I felt overwhelmed. Looking back, there were times when I should have just said “no, I can’t do that”.
One day, I was shopping for nursing bras, and I just broke down in tears in the middle of the store because I was so tired. I had started to become a withdrawn and began wishing I could be somewhere else for a while. I spoke to my doula to get things off my chest and help process my thoughts, which was really good for me. Overall, I’m in a good place now and my baby is healthy.
In comparison to my physical postpartum recovery after having my son at 18, now that I’m 30, my knees and hips hurt! I didn’t expect that. I really think that having children takes a toll on your body as you get older. I must remember to rest when I can and put my feet up. Things like soaking in the tub or getting a post-natal massage really help.
My husband loves me, and he always tells me I’m beautiful. When your body goes through these changes, it’s easy to be hard on yourself. On one side you lose some confidence after having a baby, but on the other, you just gave birth to a human being, and that’s something to be so proud of!
I’m lucky to have a solid team of close family members who I know I can depend on, and I’ve tried to join local groups of mothers and wives who I can connect with and build a new support team. As often as I can, I reach out to my friends by text and they understand that if I back off for a couple of weeks, I will eventually circle back around.
The advice I’d give to expectant parents is, lean into your support circle. Voice what you need. Cooking, dishes, a nap? Voice it! On the flip side, if you don’t want any visitors, say that too. You control the dynamics that’re around you, so don’t be afraid to be vocal about what you do and don’t need. If people love you, they’ll understand!
The relationship between me and my husband has grown stronger since the arrival of our fourth baby. We’ve had to become more organised, find better ways to communicate, and join together as a real team to look after the four kids. We understand that we’ll make mistakes along the way, and that as our family is growing up, we’re growing as parents, too. I think we’re excellent parents!
So far since having our youngest daughter, sex and intimacy between us have been kind of non-existent. I’ve just passed six weeks postpartum, and I was adamant about not doing anything within those first weeks because I’m not sure if I want to have another baby.
Breastfeeding means that I’m a little touched out, but I’ve gone through similar feelings before with my other babies, so I knew that I may feel this way and I’m confident that it’ll pass with time. I’ve made sure to communicate with my husband and let him know when I don’t want to be touched. I know that intimacy is more than just sex, and now that the dust is settling, we can get back to spending quality time together, dating each other, and nourishing each other’s love languages.
My advice to myself and others is to pencil time together into your diaries, as un-romantic as that may sound! Then you have something to look forward to, and you can slowly build spontaneity back into your relationship when the time is right."
If this content reminds you of your own experiences or makes you think of someone you know and you feel concerned or uncomfortable, please head to the PSI website for information about perinatal mental health resources that may be able to help.