Taking Care of Yourself After Birth
When you become a new parent, it seems like there is never enough time to get anything done. Just getting dressed before noon becomes a challenge. But you deserve to take some time to focus on yourself, so you can recover your strength.
Rest. If you're feeling tired, it's no wonder. Your body has just given birth, you're getting to know your baby, and your mind is dealing with the challenges that come with being a parent. Make sure to get enough rest, eat healthy foods, and drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are breastfeeding. Try to nap when the baby does, and stay in your nightgown for the first week or two. It'll remind you to take it easy.
Simplify. Try letting the baby sleep in bed with you (or at least in the same room), so you don't have to get up for feedings. Limit stair climbing to once a day. Keep supplies close at hand (next to your bed, in the family room, or wherever you spend the most time) so diaper and clothing changes are easier. Fight the urge to do too much too soon. Forget about the housework. Focus on your needs and the baby's, and let others help you with the rest.
Stay fit. The postpartum period is a good time to continue a gentle fitness routine. Just start slowly and work up to your pre-pregnancy level. Your health care provider can give you the best advice on the types of activities for you to do, and those to avoid.
Understand your mood changes. The first few days following birth are a time when your hormones adjust to new levels. This can result in mood swings, which in combination with the normal stresses of parenting, can take their toll. For most women, these feelings of sadness or depression will pass. For others, they can worsen to the point of requiring professional help.
Feel comfortable about sexual intimacy. Your interest in sex can be affected by many factors after birth. The fact that you are tired, along with hormonal changes, can lower your desire. Physical healing can also take several weeks. And there is a chance that you can become pregnant if you have unprotected intercourse. So if you don't feel like making love, find other ways that you and your partner can show you still love each other. The most important thing to remember is that these feelings are all very normal and pass over time. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about when you can resume sexual relations, and don't forget to discuss birth control.
Communicate with your partner. If you and your partner attended childbirth education classes together, it is likely that you each have a better sense of how the other is feeling. Even so, you may still be surprised to learn about some of your partner's concerns. There may be issues about your life, about parenting, about social relationships, and about your relationship with each other, that need discussing. Open communication is extremely important. And so is taking time out to be alone together, as a couple, on a regular basis.
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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010