After the papers are signed and the adoption process is complete, your role as a birth mother has not yet ended. You might feel as though you need to get right back into the swing of your life, but the reality is that you are still a mom and need to recover from birth, both physically and emotionally.
Here are some postpartum care tips to help you as you start the road to recovery after birth and adoption.
Take Some Time to Rest
No matter how relatively easy or difficult their delivery experiences, all women need to take time to recover from giving birth. However, your situation is more unique than many because you chose a family for your baby. Conventional baby websites and books will advise you to “sleep when baby sleeps” or to “get help with housework as you learn to breastfeed.”
You might feel as though much postpartum advice does not apply to you, and you may feel distanced from the community of parents. However, there’s nothing wrong with owning the fact that you carried a child through pregnancy and experienced birth. You shouldn’t pretend the pregnancy and birth didn’t happen. Be sure you:
- Still attend your postpartum doctor appointments. These are not for your baby but for you. Doctors want to make sure you are healing well, especially if you had a more complex birth procedure like a Caesarian section or episiotomy.
- Rest. Your employer or even family members may not believe you need rest, but do whatever you can to claim it. Your body still needs to heal, and resting after birth can help you process this complex emotional time.
- Arrange for help. You will still need some support after birth. Ask some friends to bring you some meals, and maybe even have a trusted family member or friend stay with you. You may enjoy having the emotional support and extra hand to help you run errands.
Feelings of loss, guilt, or relief are typical during the time immediately after adoption. Do whatever you need to as part of your recovery. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you don’t need recovery time.
Make Provisions for Your Milk Supply
Speak with your doctor about resolving your milk supply. Biology dictates you may still lactate after birth. Your supply will peter out, but you’ll still experience some discomfort as your milk “comes in.” These tips will help as you resolve your supply:
- Use cold cabbage leaves to help with swelling. Cabbage is a time-proven remedy for sore breasts during this time.
- Express some milk by hand, but only until you are comfortable. Breastmilk follows a supply-demand cycle, so pumping or expressing until empty is counter-productive. But you should not be in extreme pain either. Use minimal expressing to help take the edge off until your supply goes down.
- Talk to your doctor about medications. Your doctor may or may not recommend medicine to reduce supply, since medications may have unpleasant side effects. But if you are at risk for infection because of inflammation or blockage, your doctor may re-evaluate your need.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication if you are very uncomfortable.
- Eat foods that reduce supply. Sage tea, peppermint oil or candy, and oregano can all help reduce milk supply.
Be patient with yourself during this time. Recovery from birth and lactation can be challenging. If you need to, seek out your counselor from your adoption agency or attend birth-mom support groups in your area if the initial recovery period is too overwhelming.
Get Screened for Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is common in new moms, even moms who have not placed their baby for adoption. You can experience the symptoms of PPD regardless of whether your baby is with you. You may feel fine after birth and have several months of positive experiences only to then experience a significant dip in your mood and energy levels.
Your doctor as well as your birth and adoption counselor should be on the lookout for signs of depression, but you can recognize them in yourself as well. If you have less interest in normal hobbies, a loss of appetite, frequent episodes of intense anger or anxiety, trouble sleeping, or thoughts of self-harm, contact your physician immediately.
Choosing adoption will change your life forever. Many women feel at peace because they know they have chosen a bright future for their child. Others have misgivings and may feel lingering loss, anxiety, or regret. Feeling either way is normal, and you should not worry about a “right” way to feel.
However, you can make a goal for your emotional health. Attending counseling sessions, participating in support groups, and making wholesome, lasting relationships with others can heal the breach you may feel directly after finalizing the adoption.
For more information about your journey after birth, contact us at A Child’s Dream. We can provide support and resources for birth mothers who choose adoption for their babies.