BELOW ARE A NUMBER OF COMMON POSTNATAL FAQs
So, you have had your lovely baby and now what? Maybe you have a lot of friends and family eager to meet the new arrival or maybe you have decided to have a babymoon.
During the first few weeks as you and your baby get to know each other, you will go through some pretty major changes. You will still be under the care of your Neighbourhood midwife for those first few weeks and she will be there to answer all your questions and concerns.
For most women the baby blues will last only for a day or two, although for a few mothers it can go on longer. In most cases, having a supportive partner and family is all that is needed to help you through this time. Having your same Neighbourhood midwife caring for you can be a great source of reassurance and support – a trusted, familiar face and someone to confide your doubts and anxieties to.
Your partner can help by nurturing you, being focused on your needs and by ensuring that you eat and drink regularly while you rest and recuperate after the birth. It is worth filling the freezer with plenty of nutritious meals, during the last few weeks of your pregnancy, which can be taken out and used as required during these early days and weeks. It will be their job to manage visitors through this period, making sure you aren’t swamped with too many and that you are still able to sleep and rest during the day.
Your partner can help with sorting out all the practical jobs needed in the home and the magical part is that they can spend quality time getting to know their baby boy or girl by doing lots of skin to skin, cuddling, changing them in between their feeds and sleeps!
Between six weeks and eight weeks after birth, it is recommended that you see your GP to have a health check. This is where you can discuss with your GP how you are recovering after birth, discuss contraception and also check whether your smear test is due. The reason for this check is that traditionally the midwife will discharge you at ten days, well before you have physically recovered. Your Neighbourhood Midwife will not discharge you until your baby is six weeks old.
I am a little worried about getting postnatal depression. What signs should I look out for?
Around 10% of mothers develop postnatal depression. Some women might notice signs of depression between two weeks and two months after birth, while other mothers notice that they do not have signs of depression until a year after birth. It is important to understand that if you feel that your mood is low or you find you do not want to socialise and that you might be depressed, that you seek help and speak to your GP, your midwife or your health visitor.
Signs of depression can be different for everyone. Signs can include:
- Feeling anxious
- Feeling down
- Feeling unwell
- Loss of appetite or eating too much
- Feeling tearful or being unable to stop crying
- Feeling hopeless
- Not wanting to socialise.
- Wanting to sleep or not able to sleep.
You do not have to manage on your own and there are many great support services available to you. In most cases talking therapies can be enough to help mothers cope with postnatal depression. Other women will choose medication to help them cope. Either way, the important thing is to know that there is a solution and you do not have to feel alone.
Remind yourself to eat and drink regularly. It’s a hard one for many mums but sleeping in the day while your baby sleeps will help you to get enough of that crucial ingredient that can be in very short supply during busy nights of feeding and settling.
During pregnancy, get into the habit of doing your shopping online, especially if it’s something you are not used to doing. Not having to traipse out to the supermarket can help you in the early weeks whilst you are getting to know your baby.
Organise friends and family and most importantly your partner, to carry out all the household tasks including preparing your meals, so that you can just concentrate on you and the baby.
Your Neighbourhood Midwife is there to ensure that you and your baby are both well and that you are recovering from the birth. She will check that feeding is going well and that your baby is putting on weight and generally thriving. Visits in the postnatal period are tailored to the needs of the new mother and baby and so are always flexible and adaptable to whatever circumstances arise.
So, as a new parent or parent to be, you have probably heard stories about parents trying to get their newborn to sleep through the night. You may have been asked by that friend or family member “Does s/he sleep through the night yet?” even though your baby is a newborn. Or perhaps you may be asked the age old question “Is s/he a good baby?”, somehow insinuating that a good baby is one that sleeps through the night and that your baby is somehow bad as they did not get that memo!
Sleeping through the night for a newborn is an old fable
Relax, it’s not you and it’s not your baby. Take the pressure of yourself from thinking that something is wrong with your newborn if they are not “sleeping through”. Your new baby is a newborn for twelve weeks and it is entirely normal for your baby not to be sleeping through the night for some time (not forever, we promise). As your baby gets older their sleep cycles will lengthen which will mean that your nights will be less disturbed. Evidence shows that it is normal for the majority of babies to have wakeful periods even up to the first year. Many mothers find that sleeping during the day helps them to cope with the sleep they miss at night. Some mothers use meditation or relaxation techniques during the day or just before they go to bed to help them feel more rested.
So why does my newborn wake up so much during the night?
When you comfort, feed and cuddle your baby at night, you are giving s/he the reassurance that helps them to feel loved, cared for and nurtured. Your baby is instinctively clever and their sleeping pattern is very different to yours. A newborn baby has a shorter cycle between deep and light sleep which enables them to be more wakeful to ensure that they get the right nutrition for their growing body. Your growing newborn needs regular feeding to also help grow their brain. When baby’s receive attentive night time parenting, they produce much fewer stress hormones which enables them to be more resilient in the future and less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.
So what about a routine?
Surprisingly, your newborn baby will have a routine and that will be to be loved, cuddled, fed and changed. It’s just that this routine may not fit into your schedule in the early days! Many first time parents can find the lack of sleep in the beginning a shock to the system and there is a suggestion that pregnant women start to have interrupted nights during pregnancy as a way to prepare for this time. The good news is you cannot spoil a newborn by picking him/her up to soothe and settle them, no matter what people tell you. In fact, your newborn can sleep for on average 15 to 18 out of 24 hours.
What can I do to support myself during this time?
In those early weeks, many new parents help themselves get through the newborn period by using the support of their family and friends. Ask them to bring you meals when they come to visit you and your new baby (and to wash up afterwards!). Some parents prepare meals towards the end of pregnancy and stock them up in the freezer. If you haven’t already, try internet grocery shopping to take the pressure out of food shopping. Asking family members to help with laundry or housework can help you get some much needed rest during the day. Sleep when the baby sleeps is an oldie but a goody, if you find it difficult to sleep during the day start practising by trying power naps towards the end of pregnancy. Even if you can’t sleep, relax on the sofa and leave the washing up until later. Make the most of any down time you get!