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You can take measures to make your life easier in the days and weeks
after childbirth (postpartum period).
Accept help, seek help
You may be exhausted from the delivery and from being up at night
with your baby. Don't expect that you'll be able to keep the house spotless and
do all the household errands too.
Many employers now offer paternity leave to allow fathers to stay at
home after a child is born. If not, a relative or friend may volunteer to stay
and help out with cooking, cleaning, and running errands. Allow your friends to
bring you meals or do chores.
If you are having trouble with postpartum blues that last more than a
few days or develop into signs of
postpartum depression, call your doctor
Everyone will want to come see the baby right away, just when you're
at your most tired. It's okay to limit visitors to as few as you feel you can
handle or to ask them not to visit for a while. It's also okay to set a limit on
how long they stay.
Get extra rest
Sleep when your baby sleeps. Even a short nap helps.
If you breast-feed, learn how to collect and store some breast milk
so that your partner or babysitter can feed the baby while you sleep. Because
both you and the baby have to learn how to breast-feed, you may want to wait a
few weeks before you start pumping breast milk. For more information, see the
Good nutrition is key to regaining your strength and health. If you
are breast-feeding, you need to eat 500 additional calories a day over your
This is the time you are truly "eating for two."
Most women who breast-feed can eat a healthy diet and
still lose weight.
Drink extra fluids
Drink an extra
5 cups (1183 mL) to
8 cups (1893 mL) of
noncaffeinated liquids each day. A good rule to follow is to have a glass of
juice, water, or milk each time you nurse.
An occasional glass of wine or a cocktail is okay now and may help
you relax. Remember, the alcohol can collect in your breast milk and pass to
the baby, so don't overdo it. Waiting to have a drink until after you
breast-feed will reduce the amount of alcohol that goes into the milk.
Feel good about yourself
Don't focus on the fact that you haven't immediately returned to your
prepregnancy shape or clothes. Buy something new that looks good, even if it's
not your old size. Get someone else to watch the baby long enough for you to
spend some time on yourself.
Call your doctor when something doesn't seem right with
you or the baby. Most pediatric clinics have a nurse whose job it is to answer
questions from new mothers, so don't worry that you're "bothering" someone.
Your clinic or hospital should also have a nurse who specializes in helping
mothers who are breast-feeding. For more information, see the Other Places to
Get Help section of this topic.
Talking to other new mothers can help. Your local hospital may have
support groups for new mothers. Mother-infant massage and exercise classes are
also a great way to meet other new mothers. It can help a lot to hear that
someone else is having the same experiences you are.
November 13, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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