Tips for the early weeks with your newborn
Having a baby is an exciting journey, filled with unconditional love, new discoveries and heartfelt emotion. As you spend time bonding with your newborn, remember that recovering from the physical aspects of childbirth takes time. Understanding what to expect after you’ve been expecting can help you feel more prepared for the weeks after childbirth, with so much more to learn. Lamaze International shares the following reminders.
1. You are your baby’s natural habitat. Before and after birth, you are your baby’s favorite place to be. Your baby is already connected to you after hearing your voice during pregnancy and knowing the rhythm of your body. When you hold your newborn, your baby will learn your smell. Hearing your voice, seeing your face and being held against your body can provide the comfort your baby needs.
2. Do less to do more. The time after you give birth can be overwhelming. You want to be completely attentive to your new baby, but also feel responsible for taking care of your family and home. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but you can help create a restful postpartum period. Ask family and friends to help with errands; cook and freeze meals in advance; limit visiting hours; schedule play dates for older children at their friends’ homes. Relying on others, organizing and prioritizing will help you get used to your new family routine.
3. What they need is love. Babies need food, clothing and sleep — but they also need to feel loved, secure and connected. Babies are hardwired to interact. Whether that’s gazing into your newborn’s eyes, kissing your baby’s feet during a bath or singing and dancing around the house, take the time to
interact with and fulfill your child’s emotional needs. Consider it food for your baby’s brain!
4. Trust your instincts. Many women experience a temporary period of baby blues the first two weeks after giving birth. Some women — approximately 15 to 19 percent — have symptoms that could be Postpartum Mood Disorder (PPMD). If you feel sad, anxious, overwhelmed, guilty or helpless, you should seek help from your provider or childbirth educator. Talking with friends, exercising, taking a break from baby care, taking time to get organized and maintaining a healthy diet can help new moms deal with PPMD. Never be afraid to ask for help. More women go through emotional distress than is discussed.
To understand PPMD and learn more, visit www.lamaze.org/babyblues.
5. Enjoy a little TLC. Your pregnancy lasted around 40 weeks. Take time to rest and both physically and emotionally — as your body starts a new rhythm with your baby.
Michele Ondeck, RN, Med, IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE, is Lamaze International President and Clinical Educational Specialist at Magee-Womens Hospital University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Lamaze International promotes a natural, healthy and safe approach to pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting practices. To take a class online or find classes in your area, visit www.lamaze.org.