Congratulations! It’s been of some adjustments taking place within your 3 weeks postpartum journey. You’ve had a baby (or babies), and you are now one proficient mother. At this time, you will regain your strength, and you should feel much better, both physically and mentally.
These are good times – you are bonding with your newborn, you have enough energy to take good care about him or her, and you are generally regaining control of your life and body in. But, you should remain careful – your body is still sensitive, and it has not fully recovered (although you might feel like it). Don’t get too confident and start overdoing it, or you might start feeling worse again during following period.
Here is what you can expect during your 3 weeks postpartum journey, and we also offer some advices that should help you stay healthy and strong, and enjoy this time of your and your baby’s life.
Postpartum recovery does not necessarily follow the exact schedule, but generally, any post-delivery pains you’ve been experiencing should be gone by now. Your uterus is still shrinking, and can regain its pre-pregnant size anytime between now and the third month. However, it is already much smaller than it was in the first days after the delivery, so it should not cause any discomfort, and the muscle contractions are completely gone.
If you have an episiotomy wound, it should have healed by now. The tension following healing process should therefore be gone. Sitting and moving are supposed to be much easier now.
It is quite possible that you have stopped bleeding completely at this point. But, there is no need to worry if you can still notice brown or pink-colored discharge – postpartum bleeding is very individual. However, if you notice red discharge or excessive leaking, you should contact your doctor immediately.
While you might have started losing some real weight (apart from retained water), you are still out of shape and your belly is still large. Women who breastfeed will have more trouble losing the extra weight, but only during breastfeeding – those extra pounds will disappear later. But you might feel lighter and all those baby-maintenance behaviors are certainly keeping you active.
If you are not breastfeeding, your breasts should be back to normal by now. They can look and feel a bit saggy – this will change as your body regains its previous muscle tonus, but don’t expect them to look exactly the same as before pregnancy.
If you are breastfeeding, nothing changes – your breasts will remain larger and keep producing milk. Remember that your breasts carry an extra weight of 3-5 pounds that will disappear as soon as you stop breastfeeding. Therefore, don’t be obsessed over the number on your scale, as it still isn’t the realistic measure of your body.
Postpartum blues usually lasts two weeks or shorter, so you should feel much stronger mentally at this point. Within your 3 weeks postpartum phase, if the symptoms have not yet withdrawn, you might be experiencing a disorder called postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is characterized by more pronounced and longer lasting symptoms. It is a debilitating condition, that significantly affects your everyday life and relationships, and needs to be treated accordingly. Some of the symptoms of postpartum depression are:
- Loss of appetite
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Irritability and anger
- Mood swings, intense sadness, tearfulness
- Feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy
- Withdrawal from the loved ones
- Lack of joy in life
- Suicidal thoughts, thoughts of harming the baby
Postpartum depression almost certainly won’t go away by itself. It is a severe disorder. It is also nothing to be ashamed about – it is a real health problem, and it is not your fault. You will need help, and don’t hesitate to ask for it.
If you feel dissatisfied and irritable, but you do not experience severe symptoms that affect your ability to take care of yourself and your baby, the cause can be in your environment. Having a baby is stressful, not only because of the lifestyle changes, but also because of the affect that your child has on your financial stability and relationship with your partner. If you have objective worries or troubles, it is only natural to feel less than great. It is important to seek the support, and let others (partner, family, friends) take care about those troubles as much as possible within your 3 weeks postpartum phase.
Healthy eating is still a must, as it should be at any point of your life, but now you probably feel good enough to eat stronger, more caloric food. Your daily caloric intake should be around 1800Kcal, but you will probably need 300-500Kcal/day more if you are breastfeeding. Fluids and raw vegetables and fruit will help you heal faster, plus they will prevent constipation, which can still be a problem, although it might be resolved by now. As for the supplements, calcium and iron are important, but make sure to consult your doctor on this topic.
You will feel able to be more active at this point – but you should still avoid real work outs, lifting heavy things and strenuous exercises. Your body is still fragile, and you should be careful as you are more prone to stretches and other injuries. However, you should keep moving, and some leg exercises are recommended at this point. Also, you should not neglect your posture – stand up straight and contract your tummy – it is a good exercise and also good way to look thinner.
If you’ve had a Caesarean section, you should be more cautious, although light exercises should not pose a threat to your wound. Feeling stretching around your wound is perfectly normal, but if exercises are painful or you feel very tired and exhausted, it is better to slow down.
Postpartum period is challenging in many ways. It is important that you stay aware of the limitations of your body. Remember, you should heal at your own pace – there is no universal timeline that dictates what you can or cannot do at any point. If you need more time to rest – take it. If you feel the need to be more active – be active. Important thing is to make yourself comfortable, and to enjoy this exciting period of your and your baby’s life.