Congratulations on the arrival of your newborn! This is the beginning of an enriching and beautiful parenthood journey. Whether this is your first baby or the newest addition to a growing family, access to effective, practcial and supportive postnatal care is essential to your well being and that of your baby.
The postpartum period lasts six to eight weeks, beginning right after the baby is born.
During this period, the mother goes through many physical and emotional changes while learning to care for her newborn.
Postnatal care involves getting proper rest, nutrition, and vaginal care.
Getting Enough Rest
Rest is crucial for new mothers who need to rebuild their strength. To avoid getting too tired as a new mother, you may need to:
- sleep when your baby sleeps
- keep your bed near your baby’s crib to make night feedings easier
- allow someone else to feed the baby with a bottle while you sleep
Getting proper nutrition in the postpartum period is crucial because of the changes your body goes through during pregnancy and labor.
- The weight that you gained during pregnancy helps make sure you have enough nutrition for breastfeeding.
- You need to continue to eat a healthy diet after delivery.
- We recommend breastfeeding mothers eat when they feel hungry.
- Make a special effort to focus on eating when you are actually hungry — not just busy or tired.
- Avoid high-fat snacks
- Focus on eating low-fat foods that balance protein, carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables
- Drink plenty of fluids
New mothers should make vaginal care an essential part of their postpartum care. You may experience:
- Vaginal soreness if you had a tear during delivery
- Urination problems like pain or a frequent urge to urinate
- Discharge, including small blood clots
- Contractions during the first few days after delivery
- You should abstain from sexual intercourse for four to six weeks after delivery so that your vagina has proper time to heal.
If you had a vaginal delivery, your should go for a check up about six weeks after giving birth. If you had a complicated delivery or a c-section, you will be given an appointment a week after delivery.
During each postnatal appointment we conduct a range of procedures to monitor your baby’s growth and development, and your health and wellbeing. These include:
- A well-baby check, including weighing your baby
- Conducting a Newborn Screen Test
- Checking your blood pressure
- Checking your healing progress
- Providing the opportunity to debrief about your birth experience
- Assisting with breastfeeding support and education
- Offering suggestions on various sleep and settling techniques
- Discussing any concerns, fears or anxieties
Schedule a checkup with your doctor after delivery to discuss symptoms and receive proper treatment
- The importance of having someone nearby for the first 24 hours.
- The importance and recommended timing of postnatal visits.
- The importance of the new mother eating more and healthier foods.
- The importance of rest and sleep and the need to avoid hard physical labour.
- Discussion of normal postpartum bleeding and lochia – discuss with women how much blood loss they can expect, for how long. When bleeding is more than normal, they should seek care urgently.
- Discuss the danger signs for the woman and baby and the importance of seeking help quickly.
- Discuss infant feeding and breast care and the importance of only taking prescribed medicines when breastfeeding.
- Discuss the importance of the home environment for promoting the health of the baby and recovery of the mother. For example, discuss the need for warmth, good ventilation and hygiene for both mother and baby.
- Advise the woman to eat a greater amount and variety of healthy foods, such as meat, fish, oils, nuts, seeds, cereals, beans, vegetables, cheese and milk to help her feel strong and well (give examples of how much to eat).
- Reassure the mother that she can eat any normal foods – these will not harm the breastfeeding baby.
- Talk to her partner or other family members to encourage them to ensure that the woman eats enough and avoids hard physical work.
When the mother experiences low energy, fatigue, sleep or appetite problems, then she may have postnatal blues. True postnatal depression is when a woman is depressed considerably for more than two weeks, enough to disturb her routine activities. She may also experience any of the following:
- persistent sad or anxious mood, irritability
- low interest in or pleasure from activities that used to be enjoyable
- difficulties carrying out usual work, school, domestic or social activities
- negative or hopeless feelings about herself or her newborn
- multiple symptoms (aches, pains, palpitations, numbness) with no clear physical cause.
Ways to breastfeed successfully:
- Nursing your baby within the first few hours of birth establishes a pattern since the newborn is alert.
- Research suggests that newborns who are breastfeed at an early stage often become successful breastfeeders.
- Feed your baby every one and a half to three hours. Interpret your baby’s cues for hunger, which includes looking alert, putting his/her hands near their mouth, making sucking motions, whimpering, flexing arms and hands, and nuzzling against your breast. The last sign that the baby shows is crying.
- Do not use any pacifier until the baby’s breastfeeding routine and your milk supply is established.
- Encourage your baby to open her mouth so that the areola is on her mouth and not on the nipple alone. Stroke her cheek or lower lip. This will stimulate the baby to open the mouth and latch on.
- Make yourself comfortable while breastfeeding. Choose a quiet spot and listen to some soothing music.
Positions for Breastfeeding:
With your baby lying on his side, hold him across your lap (use a pillow to bring him up to breast height) so that his head is resting on your forearm. If you are feeding with your left breast, your baby should be cradled in your left arm. Use your other hand to support your breast with either the ‘c’ hold (your thumb on top of your breast, your four fingers underneath) or the ‘u’ hold (your breast is supported between your thumb and index finger)
Position your baby as you would for the cradle, but with your hands reversed. For example, if you are feeding from the left breast, support your baby with your right hand. Support your left breast with a ‘u’ hold in your left hand.
Position your baby on a pillow at your side. He should be facing you with his bottom near your elbow and his legs and feet tucked under your arm. Support your breast with a ‘c’ hold.