Looking after Yourself
The first six weeks after having your baby is often referred to as the postnatal period. During this time your body and mind are making huge adjustments.Its really important for you to make time to look after yourself ,in order to be able to look after your newborn baby.
Most new mothers feel excited about getting to know their baby, but you may also feel very tired physically and emotionally as your body recovers from your labour and birth.
For some families it helps to think of the first two weeks with a new baby as a 'baby moon' (like a honeymoon) give yourselves time to bond with your little one, not all mothers fall in love with their babies at first sight! Keep visitors to a minimum and only let the ones in who come bearing food or who are willing to get stuck into the washing up! By placing a sign on your door saying 'Mum and baby sleeping, please call back later' you should keep unwanted callers away too. Oh, and don't forget that you can always switch your phone off if you don't want to be disturbed.
A few important tips:-
- Food and drink. A well balanced diet making sure you are getting your daily vitamins and minerals will help your body to heal and recover quickly. Eat when you are hungry, a little and often is typical in the first few weeks. Make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks to hand, especially for in the night. Drinking plenty of fluids is also really important, water is great for keeping your bladder healthy and avoiding constipation.
- Physical health. To start with you may still look as if you are pregnant! It can take some time for your tummy to return to its pre pregnant size. No need to worry though, by doing your postnatal exercises and breast feeding you will soon be back to normal. Have a look at joining a postnatal exercise class, maybe yoga or pilates. Swimming is also good but not until you have stopped bleeding. Walking is great exercise but pace yourself and don't try to do too much too soon or you may end up feeling exhausted .
If you had a caesarean birth you may need to take things a little slower. As a general guide, don't lift anything heavier than your baby and don't drive a car until you feel able to perform an emergency stop.
- Personal hygiene is especially important in the postnatal period. Please remember to wash your hands well BEFORE and AFTER going to the toilet, changing your pads etc, the last thing you want is to get an infection in your uterus or in a wound (tears or stitches). Good hygiene coupled with a good diet and plenty of fluids will help to avoid this.
- Emotional health. It is not unusual for women to get 'baby blues' around three to five days after giving birth. This is caused by changing hormones and tiredness, it is very different to postnatal depression. You may find yourself weepy for no apparent reason , partners should have a box of soft tissues ready and a shoulder to cry on. If it lasts longer than a few days then it's a good idea to talk to your midwife or health visitor, postnatal depression is best recognised and treated early. Don't be afraid to ask for help!
It's a good idea to develop a support system for yourself fairly early on, this could be friends, groups, family members or anybody who helps you to feel good about yourself.
- Keep your baby close to you, this will help you to recognise your babies early feeding cues and avoid unnecessary stress and crying for both of you!
Remember, only by taking care of yourself can you give your baby the best possible care.
The more you take care of yourself, the more energy you will have and the less stressed you will feel. So make time to have nice relaxing baths and even schedule in a massage or a trip to the hairdresser guilt free!