Youâ??ve made it through about nine months of pregnancy and hours of labour or surgery, not to mention that stay in the hospital immediately afterwards. They have finally stopped waking you up three times a night to check your blood pressure, and now you’re home with the newborn baby.
If you are feeling a bit lost, here’s some advice on how to keep both of you healthy and happy and to survive the first month of new motherhood.
1. Don’t expect perfection from either yourself or the baby
If you are managing to keep the baby fed, and in clean nappies, and you are staying alert to any medical necessities, you are doing great.
2. Keep materials and supplies close to the places where you will be using them.
If you are breastfeeding, make sure that everything you need for the breastfeeding session is in easy reach.
If you are bottle feeding, keep everything you need for formula preparation on the kitchen counter, and prepare bottles for night feeds so that all you need to do is add water.
If you have a perineal incision or have developed haemorrhoids, have everything you need to attend to these issues close at hand.
3. Get enough sleep in order to survive the first month of new motherhood
It’s essential to avoid sleep deprivation so that you can remain alert when caring for your baby. Itâ??s hard when you have mountains of work to do, but try to have some rest when your baby rests.
4. Ease into a schedule
Some people believe in strict schedules and others in allowing a natural rhythm to develop. Either way, do what is most manageable for you, and without causing stress to the baby. It will take some trial and error to find a good balance.
5. Be alert for signs of postpartum blues
Over 50% of women experience tearfulness, tiredness, sadness, and difficulty in thinking clearly on the third or fourth day after delivery. Get help if postpartum blues become a serious problem.
6. Accept help
Accept any help you can get â?? within reason. Be willing to let your partner dress, change or bathe the baby. Relationships thrive when responsibilities of parenthood are shared.
7. Carry the baby close to you
Prams are great, but you may find that keeping the baby right on your chest will be the most convenient for you even during household chores. A baby sling or carrier can make getting around easy and comfortable for both of you. Having more contact time with your baby will make baby calmer and happier, which will benefit you too.
8. Watch your eating habits
The days of having a good excuse to binge on condensed milk or anchovies are now over. Itâ??s important for the sake of yourself and your baby for you to adopt a healthy eating plan with whole grains, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and some natural meat and dairy.
Avoid processed and packaged foods containing artificial chemical food additives (read the labels) â?? especially if you are breast-feeding â?? since these additives get passed on to your baby through your breast milk. Drink lots of water and take a good quality daily multivitamin.
After your doctor or midwife agrees, start exercising again in small increments. If you canâ??t manage formal exercise, simply get out and walk for half-an-hour a day.
10. Keep your social life balanced
Stay in touch with your support system, whether that consists of the father, your close relatives, or friends. Consider finding other new mothers and connecting with them. As for guests, limit people from visiting during this time when your child is vulnerable to contagious illnesses.
11. Know what to expect from the baby
Familiarise yourself with what to expect during the first month of new motherhood. Many publications and websites offer excellent advice on solving problems that might occur.
12. Plan for contraception before you resume intimacy
Don’t have unprotected intercourse. It is possible to ovulate and fall pregnant even a few weeks after giving birth. Doctors recommend waiting six weeks before being sexually active again.
13. Remember to enjoy your baby
Even though you might be tired or stressed, do remember to enjoy your baby. Cherish every minute – these first few months will pass quickly and, believe it or not, you will miss them!
Never hesitate to call your health practitioner should you ever feel that something serious is wrong with your baby.
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