So you just had your baby and you're feeling a little, well, off. If you're like me, you probably expected things to go back to "normal" once your pregnancy was over, right? After all, the pregnancy hormones were making feel crazy, so hoping the end of your pregnancy automatically means the end of the hellacious hormone haze is over, too, only seems fair. Nope. Turns out, there are more than a few things your postpartum hormones want you to know, mainly; you're not going back to "normal" anytime soon.
After my son was born, I was absolutely expecting to automatically feel like myself again. I mean, at the very least I was hoping to be more in control of myself than I had been when I was pregnant. Yeah, I was wrong. I was a wreck. I cried all the time, and at seemingly everything. Diaper commercials? Puppies? Fried chicken? Yes, yes, and obviously yes. Not only that, but my body was just, well, "weird." I lost a significant amount of hair from my head, grew hair on my neck, and was constantly sweating as if I was running a never-ending marathon. Because I was a new mom and this was my first postpartum rodeo, I was constantly Googling everything. As a result, it (thankfully) didn't take long for me to realize that all this "weird" stuff was actually just normal postpartum stuff. And the hormones. Definitely the hormones.
Clearly postpartum hormones can't speak to you, although they're so powerful I wouldn't be surprised if the unthinkable happens. Until then, take solace in the fact that you're not alone in your postpartum journey. If you could, your hormones would like for you to know a few things, including but certainly not limited to the following:
"It's Not You, It's Me"
It really isn't you, brand new mom. Your hormones are making you feel whatever it is you're feeling. So, if you're feeling over your head and convinced you're failing, please know that you're doing an amazing job. You really are.
"It Gets Better"
You won't always feel this way. Soon, things will settle down and you'll start to feel more in control of your emotions. The highs won't be so high, but the lows won't be so low, either. You won't cry at the drop of a hat and you will be able to get through a day without feeling like the worst mom ever.
Of course, if you're feeling significant anxiety or depression, "getting better" will only happen if you talk to a doctor or medical practitioner. You are in no way expected to deal with debilitating postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, by yourself. It'll get better, if you ask and demand the help you deserve.
"Your Mood Swings Are Normal"
The ugly crying and all-out laughing in the span of a few minutes? Yeah, that's just your hormones messing with you. Sure, you might start to fee like a crazy person, but it's completely normal to feel like you're on a terrifying emotional rollercoaster when you're postpartum.
"Slow Your Roll"
Don't expect your crazy hormones to settle down immediately after having your baby. It takes time. After all, you had 40 weeks (more or less) to deal with pregnancy hormones. So, if after four weeks you're still feeling like a basket case and crying at every diaper commercial you see, don't worry. Give it time and you'll feel more like yourself soon.
"You Need To Sleep"
I know, I know. You're tired of hearing that particular bit of advice, but it's true. In fact, that's why people say it so often. Between the exhaustion of caring for a new baby and the emotional overload caused by your hormones, you aren't running on all cylinders. Rest, mom. In fact, rest as much as you can.
"Pay Attention To How You're Feeling"
Mood swings are a normal part of postpartum life, but in some women things take a darker turn. If any of your thoughts or feelings scare you, talk to your doctor. Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are very real, but tend to be written off as "just hormones." So, honestly, if your postpartum hormones have one thing they absolutely want you to know, it's that there's nothing wrong with talking to a physician. Even (and sometimes especially) if you're unsure if what you're feeling is "normal."
"Treat Yo' Self"
There is nothing easy about the postpartum period. Nothing. So between crying fits, try to do something nice for yourself. Take a long bath, pass the baby off to your partner or friend for 20 minutes and go sit in the tub. Relax. You are allowed to be away from your baby for a while and your wrecked emotional state will thank you for it.
"Don't Force Yourself To Have Sex Before You're Ready"
Of course, the whole "don't force yourself to have sex" thing is important for everyone to hear and understand, regardless of whether or not you're a postpartum new mom. However, that "magical six week mark" has a way of making women feel like they have some kind of sex deadline to uphold.
Postpartum hormones can drastically reduce sex drive, and your body is still healing. So even if your partner has been anxiously awaiting for the "OK" from your OB-GYN or midwife, you (and only you) are the only person who gets to decide when and if you're ready. Take your time.
"Eventually, You'll Feel Like Yourself"
After a few months, things settle down and your body will gain more and more control of itself again. While feeling like yourself might mean something completely different now that you've had a baby, you will find the "new you" and you will end up being completely comfortable with her. Give it time. Give yourself permission to rest. Listen to your body.