Updated: Jul 8
What to expect in the first 3 months after birth - and - baby development in the first 3 months
AUTHOR: Lee Reicheneder
The first 3 months is a crucial time frame for the development of the baby and for adjustment to life in your new roles as a family unit. Much of this occurs during the first 6 weeks post birth; however, this development and adjustment doesn’t stop once baby or family hit 6 weeks post-birth.
Within the first 24-48 hours post-birth, the blood volume in the divine birthing being (you) will return to pre-pregnancy levels and you will often pass large amounts of urine as the estrogen in the body dissipates. By day 3 (72 hours after birth) the body often starts to produce breast milk, but don’t worry, the body will produce a substance known as colostrum for baby during the time your body works on creating breastmilk. Colostrum is amazing stuff too – this substance provides your baby with antibodies, water, protein, minerals, fat, carbohydrates, and even vitamins to nurture your baby’s needs.
After birth, the discharge of a substance called ‘lochia’ will occur and may continue for several weeks. This is like a period and it is often recommended to wear maternity strength menstrual pads during this time frame. The discharge of the substance lochia from the body is usually separated into 3 stages. The first stage often involves discharge that is red consisting of blood and endometrial tissue – generally, this all just looks like a heavy period. The second stage occurs a few days post-birth and it can be spotted by the change in your lochia – it will change from red to brownish in colour with some red. Then the final stage will usually commence at the end of the second-week post-birth. During the final stage you will notice that the discharge has changed in colour to a yellow-white, but there still may be some blood present for several weeks after the birth. Contrary to popular belief this process can taper off (make you think it’s stopped) for hours or days and then return during those several weeks (usually around 4-6 weeks, give or take depending on your individual bodies). Another thing to be aware of is that bleeding can sometimes increase between days 7-14 post-birth.
During the first 3 months, your newborn may create significant demands on your energy levels, time, and even your emotions as a new parent. If you don’t have access to family, friends, or village-like assistance this can seem even more demanding and can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. It is quite normal to feel more emotional, upset or just a bit more ‘down’ than usual around the 3rd or 4th-day post-birth. This is called the ‘baby blues’ and it is believed to affect 70-80% of those divine birthing beings post-birth. It usually lasts for 48 hours, but sometimes it can last for up to 6 weeks. You might experience increased stress or anxiety, rapid mood swings, difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, overwhelmed by the responsibility, feeling dependant on others, and may even notice that you just don’t feel like you are coping. But this is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to apologize for. In fact, it is normal and is believed to be a result of the hormonal changes within the body and of course the BIG transition you are going through as the new amazing parent that you are. Surprisingly or unsurprisingly depending on how you look at it, the incidences of baby blues have been demonstrated in some studies to be less in those who birth at home compared to in a hospital.
Now sometimes the emotional state of either parent can be much more significantly affected and the contributors to this can also vary significantly as can perceptions of experiences. However, it is believed that 20% of parents may find they are struggling with depression and/or anxiety post-birth, which is a bit more than the ‘baby blues’ and support by a mental health professional is important. For these parents, the signs and symptoms can be gradual, but they are significant and can last from weeks to years post-birth. If there has been an experience with postpartum depression with a previous baby the chances of experiencing this with a subsequent baby are estimated to be between 50-80%. The sooner you can acquire support for this the better, so it is important to recognize signs.
Postnatal Mental Health Warning signs:
More irritable than usual
Sadness and/or crying
Feelings of guilt
Loss of libido and lack of interest in everything
Changes in weight (weight loss or weight gain)
Changes in appetite
Always feeling tired or always wanting to sleep
Never being able to sleep
Difficulty focusing on things
Struggling to make decisions
New or increased fears or phobias
Not comfortable with dealing with the baby (either in lack of confidence and/or lack of feelings)