The postpartum period—the days and weeks after giving birth--involves many emotional and physical changes for you as a new mother. It also involves learning how to care for your newborn and how to function with the new demands at home. Adequate rest, good nutrition, and support from family and friends are crucial during the first few weeks after delivery to allow you to rebuild your strength.
Most newborns have different schedules than adults. A typical newborn awakens every few hours and is often hungry or needs to be changed and comforted. This schedule can lead to exhaustion, especially for first time moms. The following suggestions may help increase your rest.
- Try to relieve yourself of all responsibilities other than feeding the baby and taking care of yourself and your baby--at least for the first few weeks.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. This may be only a few minutes of rest several times a day, but these minutes can add up.
- Many new parents enjoy visits from friends and family, but you should not feel obligated to entertain. Feel free to excuse yourself for a nap or to feed your baby.
- Get outside for a few minutes each day. You can begin walking and doing postpartum exercises as advised by your doctor. This can be a big boost to your mood.
Aside from rest, it is important to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet to promote healing and recovery. You may be so tired or busy that you forget to eat. Therefore, it is essential to plan simple and healthy meals. Another option is to cook some healthy meals before delivery and place them in the freezer. Then, once baby arrives, they only require heating and eating! Routine physical activity should also be included with a healthy dietary plan as your physician allows.
Having someone else help with household responsibilities can make adjusting to your new baby easier. You can concentrate on the needs of yourself and your baby, rather than the laundry or dirty dishes. Helpers can be family, friends, or someone you pay to come in temporarily. Above all, remember to care for yourself too!