If you have made the brave choice to follow through with adoption as the solution for an unplanned pregnancy, you'll have many months to prepare for birth, as well as to prepare for the experience of giving the baby to the adoptive parents. Adoption, while it can be the right choice for mother and baby, is still a difficult experience for mothers. If you are concerned about what happens after the birth and adoption process, you should be aware of the resources, emotions, and physical changes you will experience. Here are some guidelines to help you during the period of transition post-delivery.
Stay on top of your mental health.
Postpartum depression (PPD) can affect any woman who has given birth to a baby. At least 20% of mothers experience this condition, and it should be taken seriously. After choosing adoption, you might expect life to get back to normal, but you still experience hormonal changes like all other women post birth. You should look for signs of depression and make sure that you are doing what you can to stay emotionally healthy. Signs that you need medical intervention include:
- anxiety that has no root cause. Some women may struggle to sleep at night or deal with irrational fears.
- extreme guilt over your decision to choose adoption for your child that prevents you from functioning normally.
- loss of interest in your usual activities.
- extreme fluctuations in weight due to loss of appetite.
- reliving traumatic experiences over an over again.
- thoughts of self harm or of harming someone who is close to you.
These symptoms should prompt you to seek both medical help from your doctor, but also to attend pregnancy counseling or support groups with people who have had the same experiences as you. Counseling and medication help to alleviate PPD and heal any emotional wounds that might be making the condition worse.
Show your body some love.
Women who choose adoption often like to distance themselves from the situation and move on quickly to avoid hurt and attachment. This is a good attitude if it is your approach, as it can help you reconcile yourself with your choice, knowing it was best for you and your child. However, your body will still need to time to recover from pregnancy, and it should not be ignored in an attempt to move on. You might not like that the postpartum period serves as a reminder of your pregnancy, but with the right postnatal care, your body will recover more quickly. Be sure to:
- massage your breasts and express extra milk from them when your breastmilk comes in. Leaving them alone can lead to infection or abscess. Your milk supply will quickly dry up as it is not being used, but your breasts will need some extra care during those first few days. You can help to curb milk production by taking estrogen-based birth control prescribed by your doctor, as well as by placing cabbage leaves and cold compresses on sore areas.
- rest. Labor and delivery takes a toll on your body. You should still take advantage of maternity leave from your job. You might feel like you don't need leave from work since you don't have the baby to take care of, but your body needs that recovery time just as much, if not more, than a newborn needs extra attention.
- go to follow-up appointments. Women usually meet with their care providers post birth to make sure that the birth canal area is healing nicely and to assess whether or not it is safe to begin exercising or to resume sexual activity.
Choosing adoption still means that you choose motherhood. You make the biggest decision of your baby's life, and you'll have the signs of motherhood even after your baby goes home with a new family. Your physical and mental health depend on embracing some of these after-effects and taking care of yourself so that you can have the best recovery possible.