In some cultures, a woman who's had a baby is expected to rest for a month or more while the other members of the community or tribe care for her. In the United States, it's more likely that a new mom would be expected back at work within a month or two. New mothers are sent home from the hospital with directions to return to their doctors in six weeks, but myriad emotional and physical issues come up during that time. Unfortunately, many women are left to work through these concerns on their own, or are often unsure of where to look for help when a question comes up.
There is much more to the postpartum period than feeding and diapering. When a baby is born, a mother is born, too, and the changes she experiences can be confusing and unexpected. You'll go through a myriad of physical changes. After birth, your body will begin its shift back to its prepregnancy shape and size. As your organs shift, your uterus shrinks, and your body rids itself of excess fluid, your breasts will begin producing milk, and your hormone levels will fluctuate. As you're going through this major physiological transformation, you'll also be getting to know your little one and, if this is your first baby, adjusting to a whole new set of responsibilities and lifestyle changes that can bring on a huge emotional response.
It's a lot of changing to go through in just a few short months. Yet the postpartum period is often overlooked in books about parenting and motherhood, which tend to focus on the baby's care and development. The same tends to happen in our culture — at birth, the focus shifts from the pregnant woman to her baby, and the result is often that the needs of the postpartum woman are overlooked. And while we think of the postpartum period as being the six weeks after delivery, in reality a new mother will continue to experience hormonal, physical, and emotional postpartum changes for months after she gives birth.
Postpartum can be a wonderful time when women are given the opportunity to slow down, rest, and get to know the new baby they've carried and given birth to. It can also be a stressful time. Adding a new baby can tax the relationship between a mother and father, which can be even more difficult to deal with when nobody's getting enough sleep, and a pile of dirty diapers is stacking up.
The keys to thriving — rather than just surviving — through the postpartum period include having enough help, trusting in your abilities as a mother, taking good care of yourself by eating well and getting as much sleep as possible, and having realistic expectations of yourself, your baby, and your partner. This book will help you do just that. By explaining in detail what you can expect from your physical recovery from birth and how you can navigate your emotional adjustment to new motherhood, including information on diet and nutrition, exercise, wardrobe, postpartum depression, sex, and more,
Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! I wish you plenty of support, enough sleep, and much patience as you take the journey through new motherhood.