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Your Postpartum Timeline

When we do our birth education, there are some clear phases of labor and birth that we all learn. But, what happens after our baby is in our arms, our placenta is delivered and this entire new life begins. One of the seminal books on the postpartum period, “After the Baby’s Birth” by Robin Lim helps to outline some of what we can expect in our very early postpartum period. This timeline of the first 2-ish months can help you plan your support needs. Time your postpartum and family visits around these milestones so you are getting the nourishment and attunement you need.

Day 0: Baby is born! Golden Hour after birth helps to establish parent-baby bonding and help stimulate milk supply with skin to skin contact, initial latching. Parents may choose delayed cord cutting, lotus birth and other ‘slow entry’ supportive protective practices.

Day 0-1: Mama will experience an intense hormone plunge. Dramatic physical and emotional changes are intensely felt. Lochia starts, post-birth exhaustion sets in. Both mother and baby should be supported in as much feeding and sleeping as possible and their health should be lovingly monitored.

Day 3: (a great time for your initial postpartum doula visit) Mama

and Baby both ‘wake up’ from their post-birthing daze. Baby may be a little fussy as they start taking in their new reality. Mama will start waking up to the ‘real world’ a little more and may strongly desire a shower/some self care time as we

ll as some big home clean up (this should be done by someone else!). Milk supply may start flowing at this point. The “baby blues” may also start to appear (Baby Blues refers to the normal sadness that appears with hormonal waves and your new reality of life with baby come into play. This is different from diagnosable Postpartum Depression and care should be taken to know the difference.)

Days 5: Robin Lim calls this “gratitude day”, and this is another fantastic moment for a postpartum doula visit. Often, this day brings with it overwhelm with the birth experience (in all of it’s facets). This is a great day for processing your birth story, writing it down and being supported by a loving listener.

Days 5-10: The “Taking Hold” phase begins around day 5, this is where care routines, especially breastfeeding/nursing start to fall into place. Mama’s attention starts to get pulled outward towards laundry, cleaning, other care tasks- make sure you have help lined up during this period. Rest and recovery as well as new baby-parent bonding need to remain the focus, other tasks are of course necessary but should be attended to by your support village! This is when over-exertion may come into play. A change in the brightness and flow of your lochia, a slight fever, breast tenderness and exhaustion are your body’s very clear instructions that your body needs more resting and less doing.

Days 11 - Week 6: The “Taking Charge” phase. Mama may become overwhelmed and hypercritical. The initial ‘excitement’ may have worn off, family & friends may have gone back to their normal life. This coincides with baby’s potential “PURPLE” period which stands for P-Peak Crying, U-Unexpected, R-Resists Soothing, P-Pain Like Face and E- Evening. You may have also heard this referred to as the “Witching Hour”. This is a good time for a postpartum doula visit, see if your doula can come during your baby’s trickiest time of day.

Week 6: The big “6 week appointment” is usually scheduled. No matter your medical provider, do try to get an appointment with the provider who was at your birth. Ask to see your birth records and discuss anything they may have noted in their records. Often, midwives will happily discuss your birth experience with you and can help with processing and perspective.

A note on language throughout, my use of "mama and mother" is done with love and respect to the enormity of what those words mean to me and so many other as well as the general relevance of those words to the humans I serve. I deeply support and wish for the most tender postpartum times for all people bringing new life into this world.

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