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Giving birth is one of the most challenging experiences in a woman's life. Entering this new phase of life called motherhood requires a lot of emotional stamina and consideration of many other factors. Be it normal birth or cesarean, postpartum or postnatal care is very crucial to ensure that the mother is recovering properly from labor and delivery. The family members need to be considerate in taking complete care of the new mommy during this recovery time.
Dr Manisha Ranjan, Senior consultant obstetrician & gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida, says, "The first six weeks following childbirth are referred to as the postpartum phase. While this is a happy time, a mother also goes through a lot of physical, mental as well as emotional stress. Constipation, weight loss/gain, sore breasts, frequent mood swings, new mothers experience many pregnancy and post-delivery related problems. After giving birth, readjusting to daily life can be difficult, especially for new mothers. You must take care of yourself in addition to taking care of your infant."
For at least the first six weeks after giving birth, most new mothers don't start working again. A newborn requires frequent feedings and diaper changes, so you might get tired very often. It could get annoying and frustrating.
Dr Manisha shares some tips for new mothers to make their motherhood journey simpler:
1. Take action by asking for assistance: During the postpartum period, don't hesitate to accept assistance from family and friends. Practical assistance around the house can enable you to receive the rest that your body needs to heal. Meal preparation, errand running, and childcare can all be done by friends or family.
2. Rest as much as you can: To deal with exhaustion and sleepiness, get as much sleep as you can. It's possible that your baby will need to be fed every two to three hours. Sleep when your child is sleeping to ensure that you are receiving enough rest.
3. Eat nutritious food: To aid with recovery, keep up a nutritious diet. Increase consumption of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and protein. Additionally, increase your water intake especially if you're nursing.
4. Exercise: You'll be informed by your doctor when it's safe to exercise. The exercise shouldn't be too taxing. Try going for a walk close to your home. Your energy may rise as a result of the change of surroundings.
The dynamics between you and your partner may change as a result of the adjustment that a new baby causes for the entire family. You and your partner might not spend as much quality time together during the postpartum period, which can be difficult. Although this is a difficult and stressful time, there are strategies to cope.
Dr Manisha advises, "Understand that every relationship experiences adjustments following the birth of a child. You'll figure it out eventually, but it takes time to acclimate. With each passing day, caring for a newborn becomes less difficult. Communicate your concerns as a family. Be compassionate and open-minded if someone in the family feels excluded, whether it's the husband or other kids. Even though kids need a lot of attention and that you and your partner will be taking care of their needs for the majority of the day, don't feel bad about spending time alone together as a pair during the postpartum period."
Baby blues are common throughout the postpartum period. According to Dr Manisha, this normally occurs a few days after giving birth and can linger for up to two weeks.
"The majority of the time, you won't always have symptoms, and they will change. After childbirth, between 70 and 80 per cent of new mothers report experiencing mood changes or negative emotions. Hormonal changes are the cause of baby blues, and symptoms might include mood swings, irritability, unexplained crying, insomnia and sadness," the gynecologist elaborates.
Take note, postpartum depression is distinct from baby blues. Baby blues tend to go away quickly, but postpartum depression may last longer. It is estimated that one in seven women develops postpartum depression (PPD), which can severely affect a woman's ability to return to normal function as well as her relationship with the baby.
"When symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, it could be postpartum depression. Signs may include a lack of interest in routine tasks and feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Some postpartum depressed mothers isolate themselves from their families, show little interest in their infants, and even consider harming them," adds Dr Manisha.
Medical attention is required for postpartum depression. When to visit a doctor? Dr Manisha replies, "If your depression persists more than two weeks after giving birth or if you have thoughts of hurting your child, talk to your doctor. After giving birth, postpartum depression can appear at any time, even up to a year later."
You'll undergo physical changes after giving birth, like weight gain, in addition to emotional ones.
"Be patient since losing weight takes time. When your doctor gives the all-clear, start out with a few minutes of moderate activity each day and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts. Eating nutritious and balanced meals is another important aspect of losing weight. Don't compare your weight reduction efforts to those of other new mothers because each one sheds weight at a different rate. Breastfeeding improves your daily calorie expenditure, which can help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly," says Dr Manisha.
Most women lose around five-six kilos of pregnancy weight right after the delivery, which is healthy. But it might take months (almost a year) to return to your pre-pregnancy weight. Do not start any diet plan or exercise regime without consulting your doctor. Breastfeeding is good for both the baby and mother. It helps mothers to lose or manage postpartum weight since the body burns more calories to produce milk. A mother burns about 500 additional calories a day while producing breast milk.
If you have any questions or worries about how your body is changing after giving birth, speak to your doctor.