Mothers fret over so many things post partum. Consultant pediatrician Dr Khoo Paik Choo advises mothers to take it easy and look after themselves during this (sometimes) stressful period.
The Gist of It
- Both you and your baby need tender loving care after delivery.
- You may feel a little weird or sad, but these is because of hormones, and stress could aggravate it.
- Make your needs a priority because your baby deserves a healthy, happy mum.
The baby isn’t the only one that needs to be taken care of after delivery. The problem is, everyone (including the father) tends to fuss over the newborn and neglect the woman who did all the hard work – you!
Mothers, too, need heaps of tender loving care after going through one of the physically most stressful times of their lives.
Most new mothers feel a little down for a few days up to a week or two. This is very normal and there are several causes for this, such as hormonal shifts in your body.
It goes without saying that your body changes after pregnancy. You’ve gained several pounds and it will take some time to get back to your original shape and size.
You have stretch marks and your feet are swollen. Perhaps you might start crying at any and everything. So many things change that may depress, upset and maybe even make you yearn for the life you had prior to baby.
But fret not, because as long as you follow the steps below after birth, you can help yourself get back on track:
1. Understand that It’s Your Hormones
Hormones play a big part in the odd feelings you get – you’ve been looking forward to the arrival of the little one, imagining how exciting, fun, and joyful it would be to spend time with her and hold her in your arms.
But now that she’s here, you can’t understand why you aren’t feeling as happy as you feel you ought to be. Perhaps you may even be feeling a little nervous, anxious, and even sad.
But that is completely normal in mothers who have just given birth; and you can put these feelings down to hormonal fluctuations that occur during and immediately after childbirth.
A woman experiences the greatest hormonal fluctuation levels after giving birth that may play a role in the development of post partum depression (PPD) which includes all the symptoms of depression but occurs only following childbirth.
It can begin any time after delivery and can last up to a year. PPD is estimated to occur in approximately 10% to 20% of new mothers.
Another cause of your depression could be stress – which is, in turn, closely linked to the next reason: lack of sleep. With baby getting up at all odd hours of the night and you lacking sleep, it is again normal to feel irritable.
2. Balance the Blues
It certainly can be an emotionally draining period for mothers. At a time when you should be rejoicing and enjoying your newborn, you find yourself depressed. It just doesn’t add up.
That’s why you need to pamper yourself too. Taking care of your emotional side and making sure you stay sane can be the best thing new mothers can do for themselves, their babies and their spouses!
Practice healthy habits. Eating well will fortify your resources; which is especially important if you are breastfeeding. Avoid high-sugar snacks and caffeine.
3. Resume Your Sex Life
Wear comfy clothes so that you can move around easily and get intimate again with your spouse. (Yes, just because you’ve just had a baby doesn’t mean you have to abstain from sex!) If you are emotionally and physically ready for intercourse, go ahead!
Following an uncomplicated delivery, a six-week abstinence may be unnecessary.
Generally, couples wait at least four weeks after giving birth before resuming intercourse because up to two weeks after delivery one is still bleeding. If you have stitches, it’s likely that your caregiver will advise you to wait until after your medical checkup.
4. Get Enough Rest
You need to get enough rest. A good suggestion is to rest when baby is resting.
Don’t try to do too much or try to be perfect. In other words, resist the urge to clean or do laundry. Put your feet up and your head down for a well-deserved break.
Ask your partner, family members or friends for help. Hire help if you need to, or perhaps extend the services of your confinement lady, (as most Asian families hire one) if you aren’t ready yet to deal with baby all on your own. It will be well worth the money spent if it helps you ease into your routine.
5. Live Life as Normal
The arrival of baby doesn’t signify the end to life as you knew it. Make time to go out, visit friends, or spend time alone with your partner. Many women find it good to talk to friends or join an online support group where they can share their feelings with their peers.
Get back into the swing of things – do something special for yourself when you can. Go shopping, get a manicure or pedicure, visit the spa or have an all-girls’ day out. Getting out and about in fresh air will do wonders for you.
All this may seem obvious, but the truth is many women find it hard to put themselves over their families. Make your needs a priority because your baby deserves a healthy, happy mum; and you, in turn, deserve to enjoy your baby!
6. Learn How to Manage Your Baby
It is good to be concerned about your baby, but obsessing about everything is not a good sign. Here are a few tips for dealing with stress-causing baby behaviour:
If Your Baby is Crying
Newborns cry to communicate their needs. The common reasons for crying are:
- a dirty diaper
- needing sleep
- wanting to be held
- tummy troubles like gas or colic
- the need to burp
- feeling too cold or too hot
- feeling unwell
Tips for parents to deal with a crying baby – stay calm, hug and cuddle your baby close to your chest, give him a soothing rub or massage and sing, coo or hum to him.
Don’t panic! You only need to see a doctor when he has been crying continuously for more than three hours, he has flu-like symptoms, is generally unwell, if his abdomen appears bloated and if he has passed out red-mucoid stool.
If Your Baby Isn’t Sleeping Much
This is one of the most common problems new mums face. A newborn may sleep as much as 12 to 16 hours a day (or even more), often in stretches of three to four hours at a time.
- Let the cot and bassinet be the only places for sleeping
- Set a bedtime routine which includes a bath a gentle massage and soft music
- Do not stimulate your newborn by playing with them when they wake up for feeds
- Maintain low lighting when feeding or changing your baby at night
- Ensure that your baby is wearing a good diaper
Make your needs a priority because your baby deserves a healthy, happy mom, and you, in turn, deserve to enjoy your baby!