You have just delivered and it is all very exciting but at the same time, daunting. While your main thoughts and concerns are on the child, it is important that you also take good care of yourself holistically. Only when you are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy can you provide your best.
Depending on your delivery hospital, you may be visited by the midwife who will check that you are coping and settling in on your new role while helping you to recover physicallyi. Depending on where you live and how you are coping, she may pay you a few visits over the next few days or weeks.
There are also possible health issues that can occur during this period that you need to be aware of. You will need to see a doctor if you are experiencing excessive bleeding vaginally, increasing pain that does not subside, chills, fever with or without body ache and persistent headache.ii
Post-natal depression is a real concern and it can affect different women differently. It can occur any time after delivery, sometimes very gradually. If you are feeling very lethargic all the time, have no interest in caring for yourself or things around you, have mood swings with feelings of sadness or guilt and have poor quality sleep, it is advisable that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. With support and treatment, many women make a full recovery.iii
There are a few factors to consider when ensuring you recuperate well during this period. A balanced diet with plenty of nourishing fluids and small regular meals will ensure that you are well hydrated and have the energy needed for the tasks your body is undertaking. A wide range of fruits and vegetables together with a healthy amount of complex carbohydrates, protein, good fat and dairy product (e.g. milk) will ensure that you get all the nutrients your body needsiv. Do eat all food in moderation.
Rest is almost a luxury for a new mother but that is just what is needed.v Try to put your feet up whenever baby is resting or sleeping. It is necessary to remember that your health is priority and not the laundry nor the house looking spick and span. Sleep is not always possible but relaxation exercises and limiting screen time and visitors may assist in you getting some of the much needed rest.
Although rest is very much needed, gentle exercise such as walking and pelvic floor exercises should also be included.iv
Do ask and be happy to receive help with domestic tasks. It is not necessary to try to do everything yourself.vii There is no time limit to when you have to get your daily routine and schedule in place. Every person is an individual and it is vital to remember that if you and your husband are happy, your family will be happy too.
Surround yourself with people who can provide you with emotional support. Do talk about your concerns with your spouse, family members and healthcare providers. It is normal for every new mother to have questions and concerns.