After labor, you may notice physical and emotional changes. These may include:
- Dry skin
- Mood changes
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Hair loss in the early months after birth
Activity and rest are very important during this time. The physical efforts of labor, delivery and caring for your newborn, along with the emotional challenges of a new baby, can be tiring. To care for yourself:
- Rest as much as you can and try to nap when your baby naps.
- If the weather permits it, take short walks outside.
- Be mindful, and only do light housework if you feel up to it.
- Let your loved ones help with meals, laundry, vacuuming and heavy cleaning.
- Don’t lift anything over 10 pounds, including your baby, for two weeks if you had a vaginal delivery and six weeks after a cesarean section (C-section).
During the first weeks, it will seem like your baby is always eating. This is normal. Your infant needs frequent feedings to gain weight and to stimulate your milk production. There are no rules about how long to feed your baby. Let your infant eat as long as he or she needs to.
Feedings can vary in length and can occur often. You should feed your infant on demand and at least eight to 12 times in 24 hours. As your baby gets older, the frequency and length will change. It’s best to feed your baby at the first signs of hunger. Do not wait until your baby cries. Crying is usually a late sign of hunger and can make latching harder. Here are a few other hunger cues your baby may show:
• Hand-to-mouth movements
• Sucking on his or her fingers, or hands
Need help with breastfeeding? Enloe caregivers are here for you. Schedule a private appointment to talk to one of our lactation consultants. Call 530-332-3970 or contact us online for more details. Please note, there is a fee.
Your newborn will spend a total of 14-18 hours a day sleeping, but this sleep will not be constant. Infants usually wake up every 2-4 hours to eat. Getting used to a newborn’s sleeping schedule can be tough. Be patient.
Your baby will form patterns of daytime activity and nighttime rest as he or she develops an inner sense of time. Some babies sleep better at night if they spend more time awake during the day. If this is the case for your baby, help him or her tell day from night by:
- Keeping the house bright, even when your baby is sleeping during the day
- Spending time playing, talking and singing with your infant in the day
- Letting your baby hear normal household noises during waking hours
Then at night:
- Start a bedtime routine, for instance give your baby a warm bath, read a story, or sing a lullaby to help him or her relax.
- Keep the lights dim, speak in a soft voice and limit distractions during feedings.
- Cuddle and rock your baby to soothe him or her.
- Lay your baby down when he or she is drowsy.
Although having a new baby is an exciting time, it can also be challenging.
In fact, 60-80% of new mothers experience mood changes commonly referred to as the "Baby Blues." Symptoms of the "Baby Blues" include tearfulness, exhaustion and reactivity that lasts no longer than two weeks after birth.
However, if these symptoms last longer than two weeks, the cause is more likely to be a condition called postpartum depression. It affects 1 in 7 new mothers in the United States, and can occur any time in your baby’s first year.
Women who have a personal or family history of depression, anxiety or other mood disorders are more likely to become depressed or anxious during pregnancy and/or after birth.
Watch for these symptoms:
- Feeling anxious, sad and alone
- Low interest in normal activities that you used to enjoy
- Changes in your eating or sleeping patterns
- Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless or guilty
- Irritability and moodiness
- Problems concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby
If you think you may have postpartum depression or any other postpartum mood disorder, you are not alone. And you are not to blame. Talk to your obstetrician or midwife, reach out to a therapist or ask a loved one to help you get the care you need.
Enloe also offers a Pregnancy & Post-Partum Support Group that provides peer support to patients who are pregnant or have recently given birth. If it is an emergency, call the Butte County Crisis Line at 530-891-2810 or the National Maternal Mental Health Line at 1-833-943-5746.