Ep 248: How To Get Through Those First Six Weeks Postpartum

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This episode is all about helping you during those first six weeks postpartum! The reality is that once you get discharged from the hospital, your doctor likely won't see you for six weeks. Experts recommend some degree of contact within the first three weeks postpartum. However, the reality is that it isn’t common. So in this episode, you're going to get some great information to help you during that time.

This episode is taken from The Birth Preparation Course, my online childbirth education class that gets you calm, confident, and empowered to have the beautiful birth you deserve. Of course this podcast is fantastic. It’s great for helping you get information and I put my heart and soul into it, but inside of The Birth Preparation Course you get important visual information and a structured format to help you really be READY for birth. Even if you don't choose my Birth Preparation Course for childbirth education, please choose something. It is so, so important and you should not skip it.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • What physical transformations happen after birth
  • How your body will be changed forever (and why that’s not a bad thing)
  • How long it can take for your hair and weight to go back to normal
  • Which items you need for baby to get started - it’s not as much as you think!
  • What your baby needs more than anything else
  • Why you don’t need to be too picky about where your baby sleeps
  • Why you shouldn’t buy a lot of things in advance
  • What my top 10 tips are to help with the first six weeks

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Dr. Nicole (00:00): It's quite likely that your doctor won't see you for six weeks after you have your baby. In this episode, you're going to get some great information to help you in those first six weeks.

(00:18): Welcome to the all about pregnancy and birth podcast. If you're having a baby in the hospital, you are giving birth in a system that too often takes away power from women over what happens in their own bodies. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a practicing board certified OBGYN, who's had the privilege of helping well over a thousand babies into this world. I've been a doctor for over 20 years and I'm here to help you take back your power, advocate for yourself and have the beautiful pregnancy and birth that you deserve. This podcast is for educational purposes only and it's not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it. Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 248. Whether this is your first time listening or you have been here before, thank you, thank you, thank you for spending some time with me today.

(01:15): This episode is all about helping you during those first six weeks postpartum. The reality is that once you get discharged from the hospital, your doctor likely won't see you for six weeks. Now, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, they are the organization that sets standards for care for OBGYN. In the us they say that all women should ideally have contact, and I say contact in air quotes with the maternal care provider within the first three weeks postpartum. And the reason I say contact is because it doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be an in-person visit. It may be a phone call, and even with that, there still typically isn't contact within those first six weeks despite that recommendation. It hasn't caught on that people need to be seen sooner than six weeks postpartum. And I'll add that a lot of the reasoning behind a single visit postpartum is that the way OB care is paid for in the US it's paid as something called a global fee.

(02:25): So your OBGYN or midwife gets a single big fee for all of your prenatal care and postpartum care. So it's not advantageous to them to have several appointments in the postpartum period because essentially it takes up appointment time. So they have come or we have come to as a specialty that six weeks is considered a good time to check in and do a single appointment and get everything done. I'm not saying that's right and actually it's not right, but that's the history behind how we got to that single appointment at six weeks. So in this episode, you're going to get some information again to help you during that time, those first six weeks, I'm going to talk you through the normal changes that happen in your body after birth, some essential things that you need for your baby to help you get started. It's not as much as you think, and then 10 crucial tips to just help you manage those first six weeks.

(03:24): This lesson is taken from the birth preparation course. The birth preparation course is my online childbirth education class that will get you calm, confident and empowered to have a beautiful birth. Of course, it not only covers things for your labor and birth, it covers things for the postpartum too. And of course, this podcast is fantastic. It is great for helping you get information. I put my heart and soul into it, but you have to understand that the podcast is not organized in a structured fashion In order to walk you through things step by step by step, the episodes differ, the topics differ, whereas inside of the birth preparation course, everything is organized in a specific fashion to help take you through getting ready for your birth and some mental preparation, then understanding what happens in your body during labor and birth. Then preparing yourself for any possible curve balls that may come your way, and then information about the postpartum period.

(04:24): So it's really organized and structured and there's also information inside the course that's very visual. Some of the things like cervical dilation or position changes or what the hospital room looks like, there's just some things that can't really be communicated on the podcast. You really need that visual element. So I want to encourage you to go to dr nicole rankins.com/enroll. Check out the birth preparation course and use the code Dr. Nicole to get 10% off. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com/enroll and use the code DrNicole to get 10% off. And if you don't choose the birth preparation course for childbirth education, please choose something. It is so, so important and you should not skip it. Okay, so let's get into those first six weeks postpartum. We're going to start off with what are the normal changes that will happen in your body after you give birth?

(05:23): So immediately after delivery of the placenta, the uterus begins to return to its non-pregnant size and state that is something called uterine evolution. It's actually pretty amazing like a whole human being will be inside of your uterus. And then almost immediately after the baby is out, the uterus shrinks to about half its size. So in the 12 hours right after birth, and this is either vaginal or cesarean, your uterus will settle right around your belly button and then it will decrease in size by approximately one centimeter per day. And we do everything in medicine and centimeters. Centimeters actually makes more sense. It's a base 10 system for the math nerds out there, so it's easier to calculate as opposed to inches and feet, which makes no sense anyway. So your uterus decreases in size by approximately one centimeter a day, and then by the end of the first week postpartum, your uterus is about halfway between your belly button and your pubic bone.

(06:28): That's the big solid bone down there. And by two weeks postpartum, you can no longer feel your uterus through your abdomen. By six weeks postpartum, your uterus is back to its normal size. Now your cervix will be very soft and it's kind of floppy after delivery. It's still open a bit. It remains slightly dilated for a few days, and then it is essentially closed by about one week. So we can see for someone who's recently had a baby, you can tell because the cervix is soft, it's floppy, it's still open. However, the cervix actually never goes back to the same shape as before you had your baby. You can actually look at a woman's cervix and tell if she's had a vaginal birth before. Now you won't see those changes if someone's had a scheduled cesarean. Like if you don't go through labor, you don't see those changes in the cervix because it hasn't opened.

(07:25): But if you've gone through labor, then you will see changes in the cervix. It doesn't quite go back to what it was before. Your vagina will also slowly contract, but it also won't get quite back to its pre-pregnancy size. Most women will experience some degree of relaxation in their vagina after a vaginal birth. This is why everybody should do pelvic physical therapy just to help you get back as much of your tone and shape and function that you can after birth. It's interesting, I've said this before in France, everyone gets pelvic physical therapy after birth. It doesn't matter what type of birth you have, it's like automatic and routine. We don't do that here in the US because hashtag we don't care about women all the time. But pelvic physical therapy can help you get back some of your normal or some of your pre-pregnancy function.

(08:20): And that's not to say that after you have a baby that the stretching is bad or that the changes are necessarily bad, but you want to optimize things and that's definitely what pelvic physical therapy can do. So next up is Lok Qia Lok. Qia is the shedding of blood. It's the shedding of the lining of the uterus that's no longer needed that occurs after birth. This lasts on average for about a month. It can last a little bit less than that, but in some people up to 15% of folks it can last for six to eight weeks. And it starts off as this reddish brown color. Then it tends to become more watery and turns kind of a pinkish brown. And then finally it ends as a yellowish white color. That's not an exact science of how it will go, but that's a general description of what you can expect, and we don't know how to predict exactly how long everyone's lakia will last.

(09:19): It's going to be different for different people. It doesn't seem to correlate with whether or not you breastfeed. It's just kind of what your body is going to do. So again, the average is for about a month and it's going to decrease over that month, but in some women it can last for six to eight weeks. Now let's talk about your abdominal wall. Your abdominal wall will be lax postpartum. I mean it was all stretched out because the baby was there, but it usually actually regains most if not all of its normal muscular tone over several weeks. So those muscles will regain the tone that you had before you had a baby. For some women that you may have a separation of the rectus muscles that may persist, that is something called rectus diastasis. You can definitely check out a pelvic physical therapist for that.

(10:09): And here's the thing. I will say erectus, diastasis is not related to weight. Don't expect that it's going to get better because you lose weight. It's really related to the strength of your muscles and how tight essentially your muscles are. And it's not about weight, it's about strengthening your core and getting your muscles back together. And for some people it can be really challenging and the only thing that'll fix it is surgery. So definitely if you have that rectus diastasis, that separation of the rectus muscles, then for sure definitely go check out a pelvic physical therapist or a physical therapist in general. Moving on, let's talk about your skin and your hair. I hate to be the bear of bad news, but if you had stretch marks, they're going to be permanent, all right? They will fade. They'll go from red to kind of a silvery color, but they are permanent.

(11:06): You can use stretch mark cream. I want to say it's a Moderna. I've heard some dermatologists say that that may help fade the stretch marks a bit, but they will be permanent. And for your hair, it is super duper common to have hair lost in those first one to five months after you have a baby. What happens is that during pregnancy you have more hair that is in the growing phase than hair that is in the resting phase. And this is why women often say their hair is gorgeous and is thick and grows so beautifully during pregnancy. Well after birth, that process reverses. So after birth, then you have more hair that's in the resting phase than in the growing phase. And that can lead to hair loss, and I don't mean just like a little bit of hair shedding and kind of a little bit of thinning.

(12:06): For some people it can be quite substantial. The hair loss actually, and it can be quite shocking. The good news is that it's usually self-limited and it will resolve, but it is going to take some time. It can take anywhere from six months to up to 15 months. So that's over a year postpartum for normal hair patterns to get restored. If it's really bothering you after six months and you want to see if there's some things that can be done, then check out a dermatologist. I will say it's hard to get in with a dermatologist. So if you have any inkling, then go ahead and make that appointment because it'll probably be a two or three month wait before you can get in to see a dermatologist. But if that hair loss is really concerning and bothersome to you and you want to see what things you can do and make sure everything's okay, then definitely get in with that dermatologist.

(12:57): And then speaking of weight, I talked about weight earlier. Lemme talk about weight loss. So the average weight loss from the birth of your baby, from the placenta, from the amniotic fluid, that is actually about 13 pounds. So immediately after birth you do lose quite a bit of weight and then contraction of the uterus. That uterine evolution and loss of that loa, that is going to lead to an additional lone loss of about five to up to 15 pounds during the first six weeks after birth. So you can expect to lose about half of the weight you gain during pregnancy in those first six weeks after you have a baby and without really doing much of anything, you're going to lose half of the baby weight. Now, the rest of that baby weight can be a challenge. We all know it well if you don't know it and you may know it, it's going to be a slower rate of weight loss through the first six months postpartum, and it can be challenging to lose that baby weight.

(13:56): We know it's challenging to lose weight period. And gaining baby weight is one of the things that causes women to kind of keep pounds or add on pounds as they get older. So I know it's really, really challenging, but do know that you're going to lose about half of it within those first six weeks, and the rest of it can slowly come off regarding breastfeeding and whether or not that helps with losing weight as actually not as much as you might think. It's only a few extra calories a day that you're using with breastfeeding or I should say burning with breastfeeding. And sometimes that can be offset by the fact that you have an increased appetite, so you may lose a little bit, but it's not as much as you think. If you want to learn more about postpartum weight loss, then check out episode 175 of the podcast is called f the Snapback with endocrinologist and obesity medicine specialist Dr.

(14:52): Katie Brown. She gives some excellent information in there to help with postpartum weight loss. And that's dr nicole rankins.com/episode 175. Okay, let's get into those things that you need to help you get started within those first six weeks. I think Pinterest, Instagram, the tiktoks, all of those things make you think you need this, that, and the other and everything. In order to have a new baby and you really don't, your baby doesn't need a lot. First off, your baby needs you. And then for the stuff that they need, they need a place to sleep. And it doesn't have to be complicated. Most of the time in those first six weeks, the baby's going to be staying in your room with you both because you want your baby nearby, you want to make sure your baby's okay and then getting up for feeding is going to be a lot easier if the baby is right there and it doesn't have to be a full on crib, you can put the crib in the baby's room and then you can just get a little bassinet or one of those sleepers that comes up to the side of the bed and the baby is right there in the little bassinet.

(15:51): You could even get a pack and play For a while, we were moving when my first daughter was a baby, a newborn, and she just slept in a pack and play because we didn't have a full crib. Babies are not picky, alright? They will sleep in just about anything. You just want to make sure that you don't have any blankets or anything like that. No crib bumpers, and you want it to be a flat surface and a firm surface. Those things help reduce the risk of sids. Now, clothes, baby clothes are so, so cute. They're absolutely adorable, but you also burn through them pretty quickly because your baby's growing. So you don't necessarily want to buy a ton of things. Of course, you want to have some cute outfits and things, but really in those first six weeks, you just need a few onesies. You need some pajamas because babies aren't supposed to sleep with blankets.

(16:39): So just some onesies, some pajamas, they have all kinds of fancy things that where they can zip up, they can zip down snaps to make it easier to do diaper changes and things like that. But you don't really need a ton of clothes. I highly, highly, highly suggest that you do not buy a lot of newborn sized clothes because one, you may mess around and have a bigger baby than you think, and then those newborn clothes are going to last all of a week, maybe two. So you don't want a ton of newborn size clothes at all. And just in general, babies are going to grow out of newborn very quickly. So you don't need those. You need the next size up. So again, don't go crazy with the newborn clothes, just get a few onesies, a few things to help get you started. Of course, you're going to need diapers.

(17:29): You're going to need wipes. A wipe warmer is nice just to keep something warmer on the little bottom. It's not a necessity, but I think a wipe warmer is nice. You got to have a diaper pail or something to put diapers in, whether you tie 'em up in a bag or you're definitely going to need a diaper pail because there're going to be a lot of diapers. Now the good news is that in the first six weeks, their little poops actually don't smell bad. The baby's poops don't actually smell bad until they start eating solid food, which is going to be later. So in the beginning, the poop doesn't smell. Now it looks terrible. It can be green, it can be yellow, it can go all up their backs, all up their fronts, all of that kind of stuff. But you want to have something to dispose of those diapers, and that is if you use disposable diapers.

(18:12): I know lots of folks are using cloth diapers these days. I never did cloth diapers, but I've seen lots of people do cloth diapers. My mom actually did cloth diapers back in the day, so maybe that may be something you want to look into as well. They have excellent cloth diaper services and those you just wash and reuse. Of course, you need your supplies to feed your baby. You need your burp cloths, you need a nursing pillow. You need nursing tops if you're breastfeeding. And this of course is if you're breastfeeding. Those nursing tops are so, so crucial to make it so that you don't have to take your whole shirt off or lift your whole shirt up in order to breastfeed. You can just bring the little snaps down. Target has tons of super cute ones, Amazon, there are lots of super cute nursing tops out there to make it easier for you to nurse.

(18:58): Remember that in those first six weeks, you're probably not going to be going out a ton, definitely not going out a ton. In those first two to three weeks, you're going to be at home, you're going to be recovering. So those nursing tops are going to come in handy. You can sleep in 'em, walk around in the house in 'em, all of those good great things. If you plan to formula feed or bottle feed breast milk in a bottle, then you need your bottles. You need formula. Formula can be tricky because sometimes you're going to have to try different formulas. So I recommend that you do not buy a ton of one type of formula. When you get formula, definitely get a trial can like one can make sure your baby tolerates it, make sure your baby likes it, do not get five and six cans and get the Costco discount for a bunch of formula.

(19:44): If you find that your baby doesn't like it, then you're going to be out of that money. So definitely if you need to supplement with formula, start with those smaller cans. I'm telling you this from personal experience. My second daughter went through multiple formulas before we found something that worked with her belly. So do not go out and buy a ton of formula. Also with bottles, you may want to try just to get a couple of bottles. You don't want to buy 10 bottles and then find that those are challenging. So you don't want to buy a ton of anything really because there's going to be a lot of trial and error in those first six weeks where you're figuring things out. Now, some things might work right off the bat and you might not have any issues and things may be great, but some things don't.

(20:24): You don't want to have bought all of this stuff and then not be able to use it. And then the final thing I'll say from when you do want to venture out, yes, you're eventually, you maybe go out, you visit friends, you go to dinner or those kinds of things. Well, I don't know if you're going to be going to dinner or taking your brand newborn baby out for dinner in the first six weeks, but maybe you go to the store, those kinds of things. You obviously need a stroller. You're need a car seat before you leave the hospital. So you're going to have that go ahead and invest in a good diaper bag and a portable changing pad that will make your life so much easier. I cannot tell you how many times I was out in the car and there's a blowout and you're trying to change things.

(21:06): You need something that you can lay out nicely across the seat that's not going to get dirty, that you can wipe off easily. You need a good diaper bag to carry around all your stuff. So do invest in a nice diaper bag. That's a good investment. And there's some nice these days you can find some that don't look like baby-ish if that's not what you're looking for. They look more like adult or grownups. So definitely, definitely, definitely get a nice diaper bag. Some things that are nice but not necessarily essential are a baby monitor in those first six weeks because your baby's going to be in your room, your baby's going to be around you, maybe you put the baby down for a nap and you get a baby monitor. Be careful with the baby monitors. They're on wifi circuits and things like that, and there've been these crazy rare stories of people hacking into people's baby monitors and watching people's babies and crazy things like that.

(21:57): So just be careful with the baby monitor. Nice, but not necessarily essential. A baby carrier or wearer is nice when you're doing things around the house. That can be really, really helpful, but again, not essential. Or you can just get some of those fancy wraps that wrap the baby up. Toys really not a big deal in those first six weeks. Babies don't do a lot. They just eat and sleep and poop and those first six weeks. So you don't need a lot of toys, and pacifiers is really a personal choice. If that's something that you feel like you want to do, pacifiers can potentially make breastfeeding more challenging, so be careful with that. But really that's a personal choice about what you want to do with pacifiers. And now, notice I did not mention breast pumps. Breast pumps aren't necessary if you eventually plan to go back to work or be away from your baby and you want to continue to get breast milk.

(22:46): So yes, you will need a breast pump, but you probably will not need it right in the beginning. In the beginning, you're generally establishing breastfeeding at the breast. Please know that insurance will pay for a breast pump that is required by the Affordable Care Act. That insurance pays for a breast pump. Go to aero flow, A-E-R-O-F-L-O-W, and they can help you get a breast pump. They're help you get the breast pumps for free. They're really helpful service. So that's A-E-R-O-F-L-O-W. I think the website is aero flow breast pumps.net I believe. But just Google aero flow and that will help you. Okay, so just to finish out here are those 10 tips that I talked about that are really going to help you mentally, physically get through those first six weeks. So let's just run 'em straight down. Number one, without question, there will be ups and downs.

(23:46): There will be high moments when you are so in love with this sweet, beautiful human being that you have been blessed to give birth to, but there will also be low moments where you are like, what in the hell is happening? Having a baby is hard, okay? All of that is normal, totally normal that you're not constantly in love. Totally normal to have those ups and downs. I remember, especially with my second daughter just sitting up one night at like 2:00 AM in the morning and she was wide awake and she's just looking around and I'm just like, what in the world is happening here? So there will be for sure ups and downs, so get ready for it. It's totally normal. Totally normal. Also be prepared. Number two, you're not going to always have the warm fuzzies for this baby. It takes time for you to get this new person who is going to completely invade and upend your life as you know it.

(24:54): All right? Even though this new person is tiny, they bring a whole lot of stuff with them. It's a whole new lifestyle. Things are going to change for you, and you may not always have the warm fuzzies about that. Again, that is normal, and it can be even harder if you have a fussy or a colicky baby. Again, even though those little things are tiny, they can be loud. All right? Also, if you have one that has a very erratic sleep schedule, that can also make it so that you don't always have the warm fuzzies for your baby that is totally, totally, totally normal. Doesn't mean you're a bad mother, it means you're a normal mother. And that goes into number three, give yourself and your baby some time to adjust. This new little person just spent the last 40 weeks or so inside your body.

(25:47): They were never alone. They were always right close to you. It was warm, it was pretty quiet. It can be a big adjustment for them to be on the outside and learning this new world and this new space. So give them some grace also and give yourself some grace to adjust to getting this know, to know rather this new person as well. Number four, ask for help. Ask for all the help. Your partner cannot read your mind. Don't think that, oh, if they love me, they would know what I need. Don't do that. Y'all don't do that. Be sure to vocalize your needs exactly what you need. Get your partner involved. This is you and his baby, and both of you should help. All right. I think we're past some of those sort of outdated that dads somehow can't take care of babies and do all of the things.

(26:48): I think dads actually these days really want to be involved in caring for their children. They can actually sometimes feel left out, especially if you're breastfeeding, because if you're breastfeeding, you will be spending a lot of time with your baby. But there are still plenty of ways for dad to be involved and for dad to have bonding with the baby. They can do skin to skin time. They can do bath time. Of course, they can change diapers. If you pump milk, they can feed the baby with a bottle. That can be very helpful in some of those middle of the night feedings to help distribute those between the two of you so you can each balance some sleep. Of course, partners can help with laundry, they can help with cooking. They can wash those bottle parts. They can wash those pump parts. And the sooner you get into a shared routine with taking care of this baby, the better it will be in the longterm.

(27:43): So it's really important in those first six weeks to establish that shared routine of taking care of this baby that you all made together. Now, as far as asking for help from family and friends, of course it's natural that family and friends are going to want to come and they're going to want to see the baby, and that's perfectly fine. However, help from family and friends ain't the same as visits from family and friends. Help means they should be helping do things so that you can spend more time with the baby, especially in those first six weeks. Remember I mentioned this is when you all are just getting to know each other. You're just seeing each other on the outside, getting to know the smells, the sights, the things you like. You don't like all of those good, great things. So you need to be able to spend time bonding with your baby.

(28:36): Family and friends shouldn't be coming over and sitting and holding the baby family and friends should be coming over and they look at the baby. Yes, they say hi to the baby, but if they want to help, they need to do some meals. They need to do laundry. Maybe they bring some groceries. They need to be doing things that make your life easier. So ask for that. Okay? Number five, take some time for yourself. Even in those first six weeks, it can be hard to be attached to this new human being who depends entirely on you for its survival. Sometimes you need a break, you need to rest. You need to recharge. Hand the baby to your partner. Go for a walk. Have a parent in-law. Watch the baby for a little bit. It doesn't even have to be long. Sometimes it can be like 20 minutes or 30 minutes.

(29:26): Go for a walk, take a nap, take a nice long bath. Definitely, definitely take time for yourself because the most important piece for a healthy child is a healthy mom, and that means you have to take care of yourself. All right. Number six is if you can ease yourself back into work. And I say if you can, because unfortunately some folks have to go back to work pretty quickly postpartum because of the shameful maternal and paternal health policies that we have in the United States. Sideline, go vote for things that support better maternal healthcare policies, including parental leave. Some folks have to go back at four, even six weeks. But if you can ease yourself back into work, including work around the house, we have this snapback, you got to get back into it. Hustle, grind culture in America, I think we're getting a little bit better about that.

(30:30): I see things like quiet quitting at work and things like that, so it's not as bad, but there's still a little bit of that. You should be self-sufficient in America kind of thing. And if you can just ease yourself back into it when you're doing things around the house, a baby carrier can be really helpful for that. You can do laundry or vacuum or clean up, that kind of thing when you have a baby carrier. And then as far as going back to work outside of the home, see if you can start with a couple of half days first. So just do two or three half days first just to ease yourself back into it. If you can help figure out a routine for pumping and all of those kinds of things. So ease yourself back into it. Don't feel like you have to go back into it full steam ahead.

(31:17): And speaking of leave and maternity leave, do know your options. Every company, every workplace is different. Sometimes if you take leave before the baby comes, that will reduce the amount of leave that you can take later. And you need to know how much is paid and if so, how much? Because it may not be your full salary. In fact, it's likely not going to be your full salary, and you may not get paid the entire time for your leave. You may still have a job, but you may not get paid while you're out. You also may have to file short-term disability as well, because again, there's lots of paperwork and things that have to be done. I suggest that you take as much leave as you can that will work for your family and will work for you financially. Work will be there when you get back.

(32:11): Take that time to get to know your baby. Your baby is only that tiny, little squishy sweet baby for a short time. So enjoy those snuggles. Don't feel guilty. Don't feel pressured to go back to work. Don't start dipping your toe into the emails, into the text messages. Go ahead and take that full maternity leave. Your job will survive. Work will be there when you get back along the lines of work. Number eight is you have to think about childcare. Start lining that up asap. If you know you're going to need childcare. Some places have long waiting lists. So in those first six weeks, you want to make sure you have your childcare plan situated. You really want to start looking for places while you're still pregnant. And that third trimester, do not wait until the last minute. I'll put a plug in for home daycare in Virginia, they have certified or licensed home daycares.

(33:06): And we ended up taking both of our daughters to the same home daycare. It was only like five or six kids. She had a little daycare where she had converted a room in her home, and it was absolutely lovely. Now, we did have to do some interviews before we found a place that worked. As a matter of fact, during one of the interviews, we went to a place and we had our daughter, and the woman had the kids just sitting and staring at the tv and she mentioned something like, yeah, they just sit and they just kind of watch TV during the day. And that is not the type of environment that we wanted for our baby in a daycare. We wanted her to be stimulated and have toys and activities and no tv actually. So as soon as the woman said that she didn't, the kids just watched tv.

(33:53): My husband Falcon picks up our daughter and says, okay, I'll see you in the car and leaves and leaves me there with this woman. And I was just like, okay. Yeah. So we'll let you know what we decide. Of course, we did not go with that daycare, but we did find a lovely home daycare option. And in the state of Virginia where we live, you can search for licensed home daycares online. So I'll just put a plug in for home daycares. They can be really, really helpful. She actually became a part of our family for sure. And then number nine, do take time to process your birth if you need to. If your birth didn't go exactly as planned or as you wanted it to go, even if you and your baby are physically well, you may need some time to process your experience. You may need to journal.

(34:44): You may need to share your birth story with friends. Submit your birth story to the podcast to dr nicole rankins.com/birth story. It can be very healing in order to talk about your birth story. If things didn't go exactly as you anticipated, maybe you share it in an online community. Maybe you circle back and talk about it with your midwife or your doctor. You might even need therapy or counseling or postpartum support group. Do take some time to process your birth. If you're finding that focusing on the elements of your birth is interfering with your ability to enjoy your baby, that's a sign that you need to take some time and process and work through what happened. And then the last tip I'll tell you is this. You are going to do a job as a mother. Figuring out how to take care of a tiny human is hard.

(35:45): I'm telling you. It's hard, but you will figure it out. You'll get into a groove, and before you know it, you're going to be saying, you know what? This ain't that bad. Maybe we should have another one. And then when that happens, I will of course be right here waiting for you, but know that you are going to be a great mother. All right. So just to recap some of the physical changes that happen in your body. After you have a baby in those first six weeks, your uterus will shrink, your cervix will close. Your vagina will contract not quite back to pre-pregnancy. Your uterus will get back to pre-pregnancy, but your cervix and your vagina will be forever changed. Your abdominal muscles will tighten. Your hair may unfortunately fall out, but that is short term, and it will grow back after about six to 15 months.

(36:40): You'll lose about half of the baby weight in the first six weeks. And then the rest of it can be a challenge. Remember, you don't need a lot to get started with the baby. They need a place to sleep. They need a few blankets. They need a few clothes. They need you. They need food. And that's about it. That's about it. That's all they need. You don't need a ton of stuff to get started. And then remember those tips. There will be ups and downs. Give yourself grace. Give yourself time to get to know each other. Take time for yourself. Ask for the right help. Go ahead and figure out that maternity leave and that childcare. Do process your birth if you need to. And remember that you are doing a great job. Now, as I mentioned, this lesson is taken in part from the birth preparation course, my online childbirth education class.

(37:30): Do check it out at drnicolerankins.com/enroll and use the code, DrNicole, in order to get an additional 10%. Oh. So there you have it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you're listening to me right now. Also, leave me a review in Apple Podcast. I so appreciate hearing what you think about the show. Also, share this podcast with a friend. Sharing helps me to reach and serve so many more pregnant people. And share your thoughts with me. I'm on Instagram. I'm on Instagram at @DrNicoleRankins. My dms are open. I love to hear from you. So that's it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.