When you become a mother, every day is a new miracle. With so much going on, it is hard to keep track on all the things that happen to you. Somehow, you just enjoy the perks of each day without giving a second thought. The journey of 6 weeks postpartum from your delivery has been phenomenal. You are supposed to have a postnatal checkup. Basically, your doctor wants to make sure that you are making progress toward your normal, pre-pregnancy state.
At this time, you probably look and feel much like the pre-pregnancy version of you. During the first month after delivery, new moms often lose about 20 pounds. This is almost all that you’ve gained during pregnancy.
Therefore, your body is close to its usual weight. However, muscle tightening is a different story – while some women don’t have to bother with exercising, and they still look fit and tight, some need more time to get back in shape.
At this time, your uterus also returns to your pelvis, so your belly starts looking flatter – which is great news. Doctors at postnatal check will examine if the uterus is well contracted.
Your vagina is contracted now, and it’s got its muscle tone back.
If you are not breastfeeding, you might get your period now. However, if that doesn’t happen, don’t panic, as it is completely normal that your period returns anytime between now and the 12th week. If you are breastfeeding, you will probably wait longer for your period, as it returns about 4th month. At this time, it is safe to use the tampon, although you might want to discuss this with your doctor if you’ve had any complications or excessive tearing.
Nobody should tell you when to have sex again. This is the decision you have to make on your own, depending on your feelings and condition. Some authors advise you not to wait too long, as this can affect your relationship, plus it might be harder to overcome any discomfort concerning sex if you wait too long.
At 6 weeks postpartum, sexual relations are allowed to almost every woman, but if you have any concerns, or you’ve had an infection or complications, you might want to wait a little longer or discuss this with your doctor. As estrogen levels are down at this point, especially for the women who are breastfeeding, lubrication might be a problem. Be cautious if you use lubrication products, as they need to be neutral and fit for the postpartum period.
Another important issue concerning sex is new pregnancy. Even before you get your first period, you might get pregnant. Therefore, it is important to discuss this topic with your partner, especially if you are not ready/don not want a new baby. Also, discuss your preferred contraception method with your gynecologist – this might not be the proper time to use a diaphragm, although some women are allowed to.
There are claims that your energy levels should be back to normal by now. However, it is hard to separate postpartum recovery fatigue from the fatigue caused by sleep deprivation and constant baby care. Your body should be recovered from the delivery (although some women need more time, and it is completely normal) but your daily duties don’t allow you to sleep 8 hours straight and be full of energy.
All those sleepless nights and fatigue can also have another undesired consequence – you might get sick more often. Your immune system needs you to be rested in order to function properly, but as your baby is not ready to let you sleep and rest as much as you want, you might be more prone to infections. There is no real solution for this, but try to rest and eat more fruit and raw vegetables – vitamins can help, although they are not miracle protectors.
Hopefully, you are now a mother from an advertisement – happy, smiling, with everything under control. Unfortunately, some women still haven’t resolved their postpartum mood disorders – they might have been avoiding doctors, or the prescribed therapy doesn’t work as efficiently as we would hope. If you are one of those mothers, the important thing is that you remain persistent – don’t give up until you feel back to your normal. If you need to, ask for a second opinion or a change of therapy.
Postpartum depression at your 6 weeks postpartum journey can affect your relationship with your partner, and bad relationship with your partner can be a risk factor for postpartum depression. It doesn’t matter which one comes first – what matters is that you try to resolve your issues and keep both, your health and your relationship on track. Here are some basic things you need to consider in order to help your relationship:
- Your partner is not a mind-reader. Although your needs and thoughts might seem obvious to you, he might not be able to understand them. So address your needs and fears during a serious conversation, and ask for help or support when you need them.
- If you go on therapy, ask your therapist to do a session with both, you and your partner. This might provide him with even more insight in your thoughts.
- Before you try to state your needs, think about them and be sure what they are. If you don’t know what you need, nobody else will.
- While your partner didn’t experience physical changes during pregnancy, he is also overwhelmed and has similar fears as you do. If you have troubles adjusting the new situation, he will be affected as well.
- Take time to talk, discuss, share. While it might sound life science-fiction, because you are too busy, some things just need to have priority status.
- Parenting is difficult. It requires that you solve the problems concerning logistics (such as who feeds the baby, who changes diapers, who buys diapers and with what money), but also the problems concerning parenting attitudes. Discuss, share and find the solution for all of this.
While you might have been more cautious about what you eat in the previous weeks, you still aren’t supposed to be dieting for real. However, at your six-week checkup, you might discuss with your doctor a possibility to cut down some calories and start losing weight. Especially mention if you are breastfeeding, as you might need a different diet, with higher intake of calories.
Your body returns to normal during the 6 weeks postpartum phase. This is the last week when you would need higher calorie intake and a variety of foods that provide all the healthy nutrients you need. However, this doesn’t mean that you can go on a strict diet after this period – it only means that you can take fewer calories.
Higher intensity training, such as aerobics, can be performed now, although you have to be extra-cautious, as your body is still very fragile and you can easily strain your muscles or ligaments. You might still experience back and joint pain, and exercise can actually be good for that. If you can, work out 5-6 times a week, but choose shorter, less intense exercises. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right, but stay aware that your body is out of shape and that getting back to being fit is going to hurt.
Every postpartum week is a new challenge, but it also brings new joys and happiness. You feel better day by day.
As your baby grows, you can find new ways to bond and spend time with your other family members. Remember, it is important not to neglect yourself and your needs – take time to enjoy some small life pleasures that make you happy – read a book, take a walk, call your friends on the phone.
Good organization and prioritizing will help you manage your time and squeeze in your busy schedule everything that’s really important.