The Week After Giving Birth: Survival Guide

The Week After Giving Birth: Survival Guide

November 08, 2016

Between the wear and tear of delivery and the colossal upheaval a newborn baby brings, the first week after giving birth can be a hard one. With a little help from your friends at The Cheski Sock Company, you can make it, I promise!


What to Expect After Giving Birth


Leaving Hospital


Your time in hospital will be affected by various things: what country you’re in, how busy the hospital is, how you get on with feeding, your circumstances at home and the health of you and your baby. If you end up hanging around for a bit (like me) it’s hard not to feel like it’s a slight on your parenting abilities. Although this is a natural reaction, it’s not based in fact. Everyone’s different, and we can’t all post immaculate selfies from the birthing suite.


The Long Trek Home


So whether you leave the comforting womb/stifling prison of the hospital on day 2 or day 10, the prospect of baba’s first journey can be intimidating. For me, the idea of stepping outside into the dangerous wilds of a small English town was petrifying. Preparation will make the whole thing seem more manageable. Company is also a smart plan. Here are a few key points to focus on:


  • Make sure you have a car seat.
  • Ensure that it fits the vehicle you’ll be travelling in.
  • Get someone to at least help you pack, drive you home and help you get set up at the other end. Even if your only option is an obnoxious sister or overbearing MIL, you’ll need a spare set of hands.


I emphasise getting someone to drive you home because there are many symptoms following even a normal delivery which might impair your abilities behind the wheel; it’s best to ask your health-care professional for advice. In the end you might feel perfectly normal and alert, but it’s probably better to plan ahead in case you don’t. If you’ve had a caesarean section, you will certainly not be able to drive for a good while.


Be ready to be a big old bag of nerves and emotions.


Giving birth is an overwhelming experience. Even if you thought that other babies were icky little slime balls, your own is likely to be a different matter. Just delivery, pregnancy hormones begin to drop dramatically, leading to the ‘baby blues’.


The storm of chemicals swirling around your body and brain can make you very emotional, so brace yourself for some moody spells. Yours truly hit day three and cried for about ten hours straight, alternating between ‘I can’t do this’ and ‘he’s just so beautiful, why did no-one tell me he’d be so beautiful’. Have chocolate and tissues at the ready.


When you’re first-time-parenting it, don’t feel alone in being all at sea. When you get home it can be a while before any sense of normality is established. This isn’t unusual and doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.


Should you still find yourself struggling after a couple of weeks; it’s time to alert the doctor. Post-natal/post-partum depression can be hard to detect even in yourself. Don’t go it alone.


Your Body Might not Feel like ‘Your Body’


Yep, I’m sorry. It’s going to be a bit of a mess.

  • Your tummy won’t be back to its old self for a while, which is disappointing. It tends to remain a bit stretched out for some time. You’ll probably feel some pain as the uterus, which gets pushed up over the pelvis during pregnancy, sinks back to its normal position.
  • You’ll experience a bleed called the lochia, which begins quite dramatically, but should settle down to the level of a normal period over a couple of days. This bleed will continue for the next few weeks.
  • Your bladder may be a bit weak for a while, so don’t be worried if you get some leakage.
  • You may have stitches from a tear, episiotomy or caesarean which will need to be treated gently.
  • You may suffer from piles, otherwise known as haemorrhoids.
  • Your breasts are probably going to have a mind of their own. They may become swollen and painful if you choose to bottle feed as the milk supply shuts down. If you choose to breastfeed, they may become swollen and painful when your milk comes in too!


If you’re reading this pre-birth and biting your nails, relax. When taken as a list of issues, the aftermath of birth can seem horrifying. In actuality, you’ll probably be too busy with your new baby to be worrying about your body. Even the fallout of a caesarean isn’t so bad when you’re concentrating a newborn and hooked up to a morphine drip.


The Longest Seven Days in History


For some, the first week with their newborn can be a dream. I have not met these people. I assume their lives look like the kind of stock photos where everyone’s laughing in gilets. For me personally, it was… well… the hardest week of my life, but completely worth it. In either case it is unequivocally one of life’s great adventures.


For more tips and information head over to the NCT, a UK charity which provides useful guides to post-birth recovery and more. If you haven’t already read it, you might also like to check out our article about surviving the first day after giving birth as well.