things to consider after you’ve had your baby

You’ve just had a baby. So it’s natural that everyone will be focusing on bub’s health. However, we mustn’t forget about mum’s health either.

The days after childbirth are as important as the ones leading up to it. Childbirth itself is a long and taxing experience, mentally and physically. For some mums, it only takes a week or two to bounce back to their natural selves again.

For many of us, especially first time mums, it can range from anywhere between a couple of weeks to a few months. However long it takes, here is a few things that can be done to help speed up physical recovery and get you mentally ready for a newborn.

Nutrition

Your body just finished creating another tiny human. During pregnancy, we tend to watch what we eat and ensure that the food we consume is good for our baby.

However, this can fall wayside after we’ve given birth.

Eating food that is high in protein can help your body recover from the process of childbirth. Go easy on the sugar and eat things that are nutritionally dense. If you were taking prenatal vitamins, it’s also a good idea to continue taking them as your body replenishes the lost vitamins and minerals.

Don’t worry about losing weight during the early days. Your body is still adjusting from everything that just happened, so be sure to give it time to recover.

Sleep

Newborns spend most of their time sleeping. Some newborns also get into the flow of waking up at night for some milk.

It’s tempting to drink a lot of coffee during the day to keep going, but when you’re physically tired, no amount of caffeine is going to help you in the long run.

It’s better that you sleep away the tiredness when you can. Nap when your baby is sleeping. You can’t clear the built-up adenosine (the brain chemical that causes sleepiness) with caffeine. The only way to get rid of it is to sleep it off.

Lack of sleep can mess with your alertness and ability to bond with your baby because it reduces the availability of certain dopamine receptors. So be sure to get as much sleep as you can after you’ve had your baby.

Breastfeeding?

If you’re breastfeeding, be sure to drink plenty of liquids.

Breast milk is a combination of over 1,000 different proteins, amino acids, over 200 complex sugars called oligosaccharides, an abundance of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antibodies known as immunoglobulins, long-chain fatty acids and over 1,400 microRNAs.

Your milk’s composition will change over time, starting with colostrum, which is high in vitamins A, E and K. Within the first week, your milk production will increase to around 300 to 400ml.

By the end of the first month, your milk is considered ‘mature’ and will be rich in protein, sugar, vitamins, and minerals with numerous bioactive components such as hormones, growth factors, enzymes, and live cells.

Food that can help with milk production includes oats, bananas, milk, lean and poultry meats. If you’re not a green veges fan, you can always chuck them in a berry-licious smoothie to ensure that you’re getting both the macro and micronutrients your body needs.

Don’t worry too much if you’ve decided that the breast isn’t for you. Some people had trouble (like I did for one side), while for others it’s a choice. Some people do a mix of breast milk and baby formula.

Whatever the case, what matters is that your baby is fed and thriving.

Mental Support

Having a newborn can be hard on both new and veteran mums. There’s a high chance that you’ll be tired, your brain may be running in different directions about a million different things or just feel like you’ve halted in life.

Whatever you’re feeling, it’s ok to ask for help.

Get your other half to do the dishes and other household chores. Have your mum, mother in law or friend come and help you meal-prep (slow cooker meals are amazing for delicious, low maintenance family meals). Take baby for a walk in the pram or baby carrier for some bonding time.

Physical help around the home and any other tasks that you usually do can reduce the mental load during the first months of having a baby.

You’re still working things out. Take it easy on yourself and let others help you.

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Mum’s health matters — mentally and physically.

There will be plenty of advice when it comes to taking care of your baby but not enough when it comes to taking care of mummy.

Take your time to come back into being yourself again. Rest up and sleep whenever you can. Eat well and do whatever is necessary for you to properly recover. Don’t rush the process.

Enjoy these short moments for what they are — good and bad, hangry and overtired — because it is these moments that make up the beginnings of a fantastic journey with your newborn baby.