Today’s study should come as no shock to anyone who’s had a baby before. Did they really need a study to tell us what I’m pretty sure every single mom out there already knows?
Growing a baby a beautiful experience, but it’s also demanding on your body. New mothers may be told by books and doctors that they’ll be back to ‘normal’ within six weeks of giving birth, but a new study has found that most women take much longer to recover.
Dr. Julie Wray, a researcher at Salford University in England, interviewed women at different stages of postpartum life. She found that the standard six-week recovery period is a “complete fantasy,” and it can take a full year to recover from childbirth.
Well, duh. You’re not even out of the clear from postpartum hemorrhages officially until twelve weeks.
Your hair starting to fall out and regrow around six months after you give birth is also a pretty good sign that everything isn’t back to normal.
I know I never personally started to feel like I was back to myself after giving birth until well after a year after each of my kiddos.
And then, just when I started to feel like I was back to myself, it was time to consider having another. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I pretty much didn’t “feel like myself” or like I was “back to normal” from the very first positive pregnancy test I got until I was done having babies. And not just done having them as in pushing them out, but done breastfeeding them and staying up all night with them, etc.
That’s a lot of years that I spent in a funk, not feeling like myself. My sex drive decreased. My body confidence plumited. My mental health was a disaster. My physical health suffered as well. For the better part of a decade.
Is it a wonder that so many relationships suffer during the baby phases of our lives?
Maybe I’m an extreme example, I’m sure my PCOS isn’t doing me any favors in the recovery department, but it feels like many of my friends feel similarly. I feel like they all really seem to come back alive once their babies cross the one-year-mark. We’re finally able to start getting back into our old hobbies and the toll of babies starts to feel just like a memory.
Many mothers feel the pressure to get back on their feet and act “normal” soon after childbirth. Who’s going to take care of the other children? Someone has too and we all know that paternity leave is pretty much non-existent here. What about having to back to work as early as six weeks? Money stresses don’t help with recovery, but neither does the mom guilt from having to leave. Have you lost the baby weight yet? Your mother-in-law really wants to know.
Wray found that recovery should start in the hospital. Back in the day, women spent more time in the maternity ward learning how to take care of their infant and getting breastfeeding advice. Now, some women are discharged as early as six hours after giving birth and expected to just go with it, according to Wray’s research.
“The research shows that more realistic and woman-friendly postnatal services are needed,” Wray concluded. “Women feel that it takes much longer than six weeks to recover and they should be supported beyond the current six to eight weeks after birth.”
Recovery after childbirth is different for everyone, but the general consensus is that a full year to heal the body and mind is much better than a month and a half.
I’m not saying it’s all bad. I absolutely love my children. They brought so much new light into our lives. Every single day they do something that makes me smile and I don’t even know what I would do without them. I’m also especially grateful that I was able to have children successfully, when so many people around me struggle. And that’s why I am happy for a long recovery, because the alternative of not being able to have my children, would’ve broken my heart.
How long did it take you to feel like you were back to normal? Share with us in the comments below.