If this is your first baby, know that months of pregnancy and hours of agonizing pain during birth are nothing compared to the chaos that comes right after. Every newborn brings changes and requires continuous attention, but no matter how ready you think you are, rest assured there will be moments when you will question your capability and doubt yourself. Most women remember their first postpartum weeks as the biggest turmoil in life, followed by serious sleep deprivation and mixed feelings of pure love and sheer panic. It is a time of strong emotions, dreadful fear, and ongoing confusion and yes, it is completely normal. During this adjustment, it is of utmost importance to take proper care of yourself so that you can have enough energy and remain healthy, for yours and your baby’s sake.
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Being a new mom is a once in a lifetime situation, so besides the confused daddy, make sure to have an extra pair of hands that will help you in the first days. Grandmothers, aunts or a close friend are all welcome to contribute to housekeeping, cooking and going to the grocery store or pharmacy. You can always hire some help to keep your mind of the chores. Know that these first days are all about bonding with your baby, so make sure this goes on uninterrupted. Also, don’t worry if you snap at someone or start crying if it all seems too overwhelming. Although you may not be fully aware of it, you are progressing through many changes, both physically and emotionally, while hormones are still raging.
Rest. REST. R.E.S.T.
Obviously, this cannot be stressed enough to new moms. Everybody knows that sleep is vital for the baby, but know that sleep is important for you as well. Babies have a unique time clock, so most of them wake up every two or three hours mainly because they are hungry, wet or in need of warm mothers hug. Such rhythm can be wearing, especially if you are exhausted from a long and difficult giving birth or a C section. Try to sync with your baby and to sleep or simply rest every time baby is sleeping. Keep the baby’s bed close to yours because it will come handy during the night feed. Even though your family and friends are eager to see the baby, let them wait for a few days and don’t trouble yourself with being a hostess.
Funny how things work once you become a mother. You will not forget to feed the baby, yet it will slip your mind to have a decent meal yourself unless someone puts a plate right in front of you. That is where the aforementioned (granny, aunt, friend) help gets in. Have more than three meals a day. Eat every three hours, have small but healthy meals because you need to stay nourished and strong. The goal is to keep your immune system high and to replenish energy and nutrients sapped from your body during pregnancy.
What to eat
A balanced diet is a key to your wellbeing and the health of your baby. Postpartum women should take this seriously and have dairy, grains, proteins, veggies, and fruit on their table every day. Since some days are worse than others and there will be no time to make your meals, look for some healthy supplements like pea protein powder that will provide enough nutrients while you are humming lullabies to your little one. Avoid processed meat, snacks, and junk food, by all means, since intake of unhealthy ingredients can harm the baby or you, in the long run.
Many of breastfeeding moms notice increased thirst while nursing, so make sure you always have a bottle of water nearby. Avoid processed juices and sodas and opt for water, milk or fresh fruit juices instead. Also, include drinking tea in your daily routine since some of them are quite beneficial for breastfeeding mothers, like cumin or fennel tea. There are plenty of safe and certified lactation teas that can help you boost the milk supply and even help if the baby has colics, as long as you don’t overdo. However, keep in mind that there are herbal teas to avoid during lactation period like ginseng, basil, licorice, etc.
Although you would like to get rid of the baby-fat as soon as possible, there is no need to go start exercising immediately. Your body is exhausted enough already, so take a break and listen to it. However, some moving and stretching can be quite beneficial at this stage, especially if you carry the baby all the time. Take slow walks and volume up the intensity each week. Fresh air and a little bit of physical activity can do wonders for the fragile body and whirling thoughts of new moms.
Connect with other new moms
Having allies is a great advantage and quite therapeutic at this point. Although everyone around you is supportive and full of advice, find the circle of new moms and keep in touch with them, since it is the most honest, compassionate and helpful crew you will find. Feel free to share your worries and joys, but be supportive as well and do your best not to judge. These will be your healing sessions whether you are having trouble breastfeeding, or your baby just never wants to sleep. The mere feeling of not being alone will be enough to make it through the day.
And yes, congratulations! You have performed a nature’s miracle and brought a new life into this world. Dwell on that thought for a while and be proud of yourself. A new chapter of life has begun, so it is time for you to recognize your biggest responsibility from now on. If you wish to raise a happy and healthy child, then be happy and take care of yourself, because your child will learn about life not from your words, but from the examples.