The postpartum period involves your moving through many changes, both emotionally and physically, while learning how to deal with all the changes needed with becoming a new mother. You need to take good care of yourself to rebuild your strength. You will need plenty of rest, good nutrition, and help during the first few weeks.
Every new parent soon learns that babies have different time clocks than adults. A typical newborn wakes up about every 3 hours and needs to be fed, changed, and comforted. Although you may not get a solid 8 hours of sleep for several months, the following suggestions may be helpful in finding ways to get more rest now.
- In the first few weeks, you need to let someone else take care of all responsibilities other than feeding your baby and taking care of yourself.
- Save steps and time. Have your baby’s bed near yours for feedings at night.
- Get outside for a few minutes each day. You can begin walking and doing postpartum exercises, as advised by your healthcare provider.
Your body has undergone many changes during pregnancy and birth. You need time to recover. In addition to rest, you need to maintain a healthy diet to help you do that.
The weight gained in pregnancy helps build stores for your recovery and for breastfeeding. After delivery, you need to eat a healthy and balanced diet so you can be active and able to care for your baby.
5 food group categories:
- Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain are grain products. Examples include whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal.
- Vary your vegetables. Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables.
- Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.
- Milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Focus on fat-free or low-fat products, as well as those that are high in calcium.
- Go lean on protein. Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry. Vary your protein routine–choose more fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.
Oils are not a food group, yet some, such as nut oils, contain important nutrients and can be included in the diet. Others, such as animal fats, are solid and should be avoided.
You should include exercise and everyday physical activity in your dietary plan.
Although most mothers want to lose their pregnancy weight, extreme dieting and rapid weight loss can be hazardous to your health and to your baby’s if you are breastfeeding. It can take several months for you to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy. You can reach this goal by cutting out high-fat snacks and focusing on a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, balanced with proteins and carbohydrates. Exercise also helps burn calories and tone muscles and limbs.
some healthy snacks beside your bed or breastfeeding chair.
Help for new parents
New as well as experienced parents soon realize that babies require a lot of work. Meeting the constant needs of a newborn involves time and energy and often takes you away from other responsibilities in the home.
Although you and your partner probably will do fine on your own, having someone else helping with the household responsibilities usually makes the adjustment to a new baby easier.
Nature designed human milk especially for human babies, and it has several advantages over any substitute ever developed. Your milk contains just the right balance of nutrients, and it contains them in a form most easily used by the human baby’s immature body systems. Because it was developed for your human baby, your milk also is gentlest on your baby’s systems.
Getting started with breastfeeding:
The process of breastfeeding and your milk change as your baby grows and develops. A newborn’s feeding routine may be different than that of a breastfeeding 6-month-old. As the baby grows, the nutrients in your milk adapt to your growing baby’s needs. The anti-infective properties also increase if you or your baby is exposed to some new bacteria or virus.
- Early breastfeeding
The first weeks of breastfeeding should be considered a learning period for both you and your baby. Do not expect to work as a coordinated team immediately. Give yourselves plenty of time to recuperate from labour and birth, develop a daily routine, and overcome any initial breastfeeding difficulties.
It may help to keep a simple checklist chart to mark daily feedings and diaper counts until your baby is gaining weight appropriately.
- Day 1
Most full-term, healthy babies are ready and eager to begin breastfeeding within the first half hour to two hours after birth. Then, many sleep or act drowsy for the next two to 20 hours, so a baby may not be very interested in breastfeeding again on his/her birthday. However, a baby should breastfeed several times that first day. Expect to change only a couple of wet and dirty diapers during the first 24 hours.
- Days 2 to 4
Although he/she may need practice with latching on and sucking, by the second day, your baby should begin to wake and cue (show readiness) for feedings every 1½ to 3 hours for a total of 8 to 12 breastfeedings in 24 hours. These frequent feedings provide your baby with antibody-rich first milk, called colostrums, and tell your breasts to make more milk. As with day 1, you probably will change only a few wet and dirty diapers on baby’s second and third days, and do not be surprised if your baby loses weight during the first several days. The number of diaper changes and baby’s weight will increase when your milk “comes in.”
- Days 3 to 5
The volume of breast milk produced increases dramatically at about 3 or 4 days after birth, and the milk is said to have “come in.” Your baby probably will drift off after his/her 8 to 12, 10 to 30-minute feedings and act more satisfied after a meal. The number of dirty diapers also increases, and the stools should be changing in color and consistency.
Soften the nipple and areola by expressing some milk and then let baby latch on.
Breastfeed or express milk by hand or breast pump frequently (every one to two hours) – your breasts should feel noticeably softer after breastfeeding or pumping.
Apply cold packs or sandwich bags filled with ice or frozen vegetables to the breasts for 20 to 30 minutes after a feeding or pumping session. The application of cold packs has been shown to relieve the swelling that may interfere with milk flow.
- Days 5 to 28
Your baby will become more proficient at breastfeeding as the first month progresses. Expect to feed your baby about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours and for approximately 10 to 30 minutes at the first breast before he/she lets go of the breast without your help.
Your baby should continue to:
- Soak six or more wet diapers.
- Pass three or more loose, seedy, yellow stools.
- Gain more than one half ounce (15 g) a day, more than four to five ounces (120 to 150 g) a week, or one pound (454 g) a month from lowest weight, regaining birth weight by 2 weeks.
Babies commonly experience a growth spurt between 2 to 3 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks, and again at about 3 months. It is important to let a baby feed more often during these spurts. Within a few days, your baby will have returned to a more typical pattern.
Let your baby set the pace for breastfeeding. Pay attention to his/her feeding cues.
If you’re returning to work, start bottle-feeding at least two weeks before your start date so you both have time to adjust.
Try to hold your baby fairly upright, with his head supported in a comfortable, neutral position. Hold the bottle horizontal to the ground; tilting it just enough to ensure your baby is taking milk, not air, through the teat. Babies feed in bursts of sucking with short pauses to rest.
The postpartum period begins after the delivery of your baby and ends when your body has nearly returned to its pre-pregnant state. This period usually lasts 6 to 8 weeks. The postpartum period also involves you and your partner learning how to care for your newborn and learning how to function as a changed family unit.