The postpartum period refers to the first six weeks after childbirth. This is a joyous time, but it’s also a period of adjustment and healing for mothers. During these weeks, you’ll bond with your baby and you’ll have a post-delivery checkup with your doctor.
Adjusting to motherhood :
Adjusting to everyday life after the birth of a baby has its challenges, especially if you’re a new mother. Although it’s important to care for your baby, you also have to take care of yourself.
Most new mothers don't return to work for at least the first six weeks after birth. This allows time to adapt and develop a new normal. Since a baby has to be fed and changed often, you may experience sleepless nights. It can be frustrating and tiresome. The good news is that you'll eventually fall into a routine. In the meantime, here’s what you can do for an easier transition:
- Get plenty of rest : Get as much sleep as possible to cope with tiredness and fatigue. Your baby may wake up every two to three hours for feeding. To make sure you’re getting enough rest, sleep when your baby sleeps.
- Seek help :Don’t hesitate to accept help from family and friends during the postpartum period, as well as after this period. Your body needs to heal, and practical help around the home can help you get much-needed rest. Friends or family can prepare meals, run errands, or help care for other children in the home.
- Eat healthy meals :Maintain a healthy diet to promote healing. Increase your intake of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein. You should also increase your fluid intake, especially if you are breast-feeding.
- Exercise :Your doctor will let you know when it's OK to exercise. The activity should not be strenuous. Try taking a walk near your house. The change of scenery is refreshing and can increase your energy level.
Functioning as a new family unit :
A new baby is an adjustment for the entire family and can change the dynamic you have with your partner. During the postpartum period, you and your partner may also spend less quality time together, which can be troublesome. This is an overwhelming and stressful period, but there are ways to manage.
For starters, be patient. Understand that every couple goes through changes after the birth of a baby. It takes time to adjust, but you’ll figure it out. Caring for a newborn gets easier with each passing day.
Also, communicate as a family. If someone feels left out — whether it’s a spouse or other children in the home — talk about the problem and be understanding. Although babies require a lot of attention and you and your partner will spend the majority of the day caring for their needs, don’t feel guilty about spending alone time as a couple during the postpartum period.
Baby blues vs. postpartum depression :
It’s normal to have the baby blues during the postpartum period. This typically happens a few days after giving birth and can last for up to two weeks. In most cases, you won’t be experiencing symptoms all the time, and your symptoms will vary. About 70 to 80 percent of new mothers experience mood swings or negative feelings after giving birth. Baby blues are caused by hormonal changes and symptoms may include:
- unexplained crying
- mood changes
When should you see a doctor?
The baby blues are different from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression occurs when symptoms last for more than two weeks. Additional symptoms may include feelings of guilt and worthlessness, and loss of interest in daily activities. Some women with postpartum depression withdraw from their family, have no interest in their baby, and have thoughts of hurting their baby.
Postpartum depression requires medical treatment. Speak with your doctor if you have depression that lasts longer than two weeks after giving birth, or if you have thoughts of harming your baby. Postpartum depression can develop at any time after giving birth, even up to a year after delivery.