The Hard Part Of Being A Brand New Mom

It's called the fourth trimester for a reason, my friends.

Woman holding newborn |

Photo credit: RUTH JENKINSON/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

As I approached my scheduled induction for my fourth baby, I had a lot of worries and fears on my mind. And forefront for me, after my fervent prayers for a healthy delivery and baby?

Recovering from birth.

The postpartum period hasn't exactly been kind to me in the past. Multiple bouts of mastitis, hot flashes so intense I literally melted away part of our leather couch and what felt like months of needing a nap to get through the day made me long for the misery of pregnancy once again. But as it turns out, there are some pretty valid reasons for the craziness that is the postpartum time.

A hormonal roller coaster

If you think I'm joking about this, I'm not. The hormones in your body after birth perform a literal roller coaster of fluctuations trying to "normalize," organize your milk supply and provide some much-needed support to get you through those sleepless nights. In the past week alone, I've cried over the thought of someone else watching my baby in the hypothetical future, screamed at my husband for no reason and cried some more while writing an article about my son. "Within 72 hours of giving birth, hormones shift from the highest they will ever be (in late pregnancy) to the lowest in the day or two immediately after birth," explains Ann L. Dunnewold, Ph.D., and coauthor of Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom's Postpartum Survival Guide. And speaking from personal experience — day three is usually the worst, so be prepared.

The partner hatred

I guess it makes sense to take out our emotions on the ones we love the most, but if there's any way you can prepare your partner for what is about to go down in your relationship, try to address it before you're a hormone-crazed, postpartum lunatic. "If the partner can keep in mind that this is a very real hormonal crash, this can help," says Dunnewold. "Trust that she is a victim of her hormones, and likely just as chagrined about her behavior as are others. She's not out to get anyone. The partner can give and give for now — and trust that eventually, the balance of giving in the relationship will be restored."

The hair loss

No, you're not imagining things — you really are shedding like a dog. "During pregnancy, the high hormone levels tend to keep the expectant mother from losing lots of hair," explains dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, M.D., F.A.A.D. "After delivery, the estrogen levels rapidly drop causing more than usual hair shedding." Nussbaum says air loss should taper off around three or four months and taking an all-natural supplement like Aviva may help. (Although, of course, be sure to consult with your doctor if you're nursing.) 

The motherhood transformation

Surprisingly enough, the transformation to become a mother doesn't happen the day you give birth. Instead, the postpartum period will be one of intense transformation as you settle into your new role as a mother — and find your own confidence and strength. "The most important hurdle [of the postpartum period] is the transition from being plagued by doubt and worry about being able to be a good mom and connect with this new person to actually feeling like a mom," explains Dunnewold.

More on postpartum

Why you should hire a postpartum doula
Postpartum work-home choice affects happiness
Symptoms of postpartum depression


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