I’ve shared a lot about my breast feeding struggles and our birth story, but I don’t think I’ve spoken about what the first week was like after giving birth. This first week is an emotional one. You have your ups and downs as your hormones are all over the place. I’ll be very honest here and say I had a lot of downs. Of course I was over the moon about our new baby boy being with us, but our first week was spent in hospital and that didn’t help my mental health.
We had to stay in hospital for a week after I’d given birth due to the labour being so long. We’d both caught infections that needed 2 doses of antibiotics a day through a drip. Not what you want for your new born baby!
I may have mentioned in our birth story that I’d delivered quite late in the day. Visiting hours for partners had just ended so about an hour after I’d been taken to the postnatal ward Nathan, my husband, was sent home. This set me off straight away. I couldn’t move due to having an epidural and I had this baby to look after. I was having to call the midwife during the night just to get her to pass Oliver to me. To be honest I felt silly and alone. Oliver was due his first dose of antibiotics at 3am – I know the worst time right?! I remember the midwives taking Oliver and then I fell asleep. It felt like I’d been asleep for ages, and when I woke up Oliver still wasn’t back.
I buzzed for the midwife and asked where my baby was, and they said they’d go and find out. It was hours before Oliver was brought back to me. I’d honestly thought something had happened to him. He’d been gone for so long! It seemed like forever until Nathan was allowed back in to see me. I needed him so badly.
The next 6 days dragged.
I’ve never known a week to drag on for so long. It felt like I was in that hospital for months! Each day my mental health would get worse and worse. For our second night we were moved in to a room just for us, seeing as I was going to be there for so long. By the third night I begged the midwives to let Nathan stay the night with me. I couldn’t sleep. I’d spend the whole night awake just staring at Oliver. Luckily the midwives could see how much I was struggling so they let him stay. Within the whole week Nathan stayed 3 nights. This isn’t normal practice to let partners stay, but I was having panic attacks nearly every evening when it reached the time for Nathan to go home.
Throughout the week we were allowed to go for walks around the hospital and in their gardens. This helped me feel a little more sane but all I wanted to do was to walk out those doors with my baby and not go back in. Obviously due to his antibiotics I did go back.
After a long week we were finally given the all clear to go home. It was the best feeling! I’ve never had such an emotional week in all my life. I spent most of the week crying and wishing to be home in my own bed. Of course it was amazing to have the support of the midwives for the first week of being a parent, but being at home in my own bed seemed so much better.
Be honest with how your feeling.
That first week after giving birth is such an emotional time; full of happiness, fear, excitement, loneliness and in many cases upsetting, as all I wanted was to go home. It’s important to be honest with how you’re feeling. It’s completely natural to feel upset and scared during and after your pregnancy. The midwives are not only there for your baby, but they’re there for you too.
There are special midwives who visit you to talk about how you’re feeling. Be honest with them if your struggling. If you’re lucky enough to go home soon after giving birth and you’re struggling at home, tell your partner, a family member or call the postnatal ward. They’ll be happy to talk to you about anything on your mind.
What’s most important to remember is it’s completely normal to feel down the few weeks after giving birth, whether you suffer from depression or not. Sometimes the low mood can continue longer than a few weeks, and if it does, you need to let your midwife know. You’re not weird or annoying if it carries on longer. I thought I was being annoying, but trust me, you’re not. You’ve gone through so much, so it’s okay to have the help of your family and friends.
Remember however you’re feeling in that first week after giving birth, you are an amazing parent. You’ve brought a new life into this world. I think that’s pretty darn awesome.
How did you feel after giving birth, and how are you feeling now? I’m back on my antidepressants and I can honestly say I feel so much better.