Being a new parent is a very busy time with a lot to learn, and can seem quite confusing. You are likely to feel very excited at first, and relieved that the long wait of pregnancy and hard work of giving birth are over. There will be phone calls and visitors and congratulations as everyone greets the new arrival.
It is all very very exciting! After the first day or so, though, you may start to feel quite exhausted. You may be physically uncomfortable, tired, worried about managing feeding and overwhelmed with all you need to do for the baby.
Massive hormone changes don’t help either. Not surprisingly, many mothers have mood swings and lots of tears at this time. You are both mentally and physically high strung. At this point you need to rest as much as possible but this is easier said than done. This is what is meant by “the baby blues”.
Bringing your baby home for the first time can feel rather scary. There is so much to think about and organise and you worry about what to do first, or what will happen if the baby won’t stop crying. Try to have somebody with you for the first few days at least. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it, you still have a lifetime to fuss over your child.
You are no good to your baby if you are tired and in poor health. It is great to have visitors, but it can be tiring too. This may sound extreme but seriously, try to encourage the sort of visitor who does some jobs around the house or minds the baby, and discourage those who want to just sit while you provide a fancy afternoon tea!
New babies need feeding every few hours, day and night. You will feel very tired from broken sleep, so it is important to rest, or sleep if you can, during the day. The housework will keep until later.
My two cents
The most beautiful and pure thing you will ever do for your baby is breastfeed - my opinion but also fact. Breastfeeding is a new skill for you and your baby. It may take some time for you both to learn how best to manage. When you are breastfeeding, the hormone that lets down your milk will also cause the uterus (womb) to contract.
You may feel some discomfort low in your tummy (these are called ‘after-birth pains’ and are more commonly felt with second or third children), and may notice you bleed a little more during feeds. This is all normal. Early problems can usually be easily solved, so ask and do get help if you need it.
Remember your health
You will be bleeding at first. After the first week, the bleeding should gradually get lighter. If the bleeding is getting heavier rather than lighter, or if you have a sudden heavy loss or large clots after the first few days, check with your doctor or midwife. Be careful with your health and consult your doctor whenever in doubt. Enjoy your bundle of joy!