After birth

First few days with your new baby 

You've just done one of the bravest, most wonderful things a human being can do - given birth. During this time, keep in mind that your baby will be happiest if you are taking care of yourself. Rest is crucial. Even if you don't sleep as much as you'd like, give yourself plenty of time to lie down, put your feet up and rest. When it's time to sleep, keep your baby in a cot next to your bed, or share the bed with her.

You might not be happy about the fact that you haven't had a decent night's sleep since before your baby's arrival, but you'll do yourself and your baby a favor if you learn to accept the fact that your life is going to be topsy-turvy for at least the foreseeable future. Rather than trying to force your new baby into adopting sleeping patterns for which he or she simply isn't ready, focus your energies on enjoying this special time in your lives.

Let the dishes accumulate in the sink and leave the carpets unvacuumed for as long as possible. Give yourself permission to set aside as much time as possible for rest and relaxation. Your top priorities at this stage should be taking care of your baby and yourself!

Now is not the time to go on a diet to reclaim your figure - you need to nourish yourself as well as your newborn. Eat plenty of protein, vegetables and fruits. If you're breastfeeding, keep track of what you're eating. If your baby is fussy after nursing, you'll be able to see what you ate at your last meal and eliminate certain foods accordingly.

Get Help

Ask your partner to help you. If you're experiencing conflicted emotions about being a new mother, don't be afraid to express yourself. Despite your most loving intentions, you may find yourself going through an emotional wringer. Your hormones are readjusting. You may find yourself waking up drenched with sweat during the first two weeks as your body rapidly eliminates the water you may have retained during your last months of pregnancy. 

As you care for your baby, treat yourself. Take plenty of hot baths. This is also great if you're breastfeeding. Warm facecloths placed on your breasts will keep your milk flowing freely and help prevent mastitis - a breast infection that comes from blocked milk ducts that may manifest itself in hard, painful breasts, fever, headache and other flu-like symptoms.  

Baby Blues

Some women experience some form of depression shortly after the birth of their baby. This is usually very mild. It needs no form of treatment and clears up within a week of delivery. This period of time is known as 'baby blues' and is associated with the rapid hormonal (chemical) changes that occur in the body after the delivery. Other factors that contribute are tiredness, the inevitable adjustments necessary to cope with a new baby, and possible worries about the future. Have as much rest as possible.

If the feelings of depression continue, then speak to your midwife or doctor who will advise you on what to do next. You might need to see your doctor in the very early stages, before postnatal depression develops.