A new addition to the family is always an exciting thing. So exciting sometimes that it can even feel overwhelming - suddenly there is a whole new life you are responsible for and life as it existed before must go on too.
This new addition is a stranger yet you love them unconditionally. You are tasked physically and emotionally. That is what parenting is.
You and your baby will gradually get to know each other, and you (and your partner) will gain confidence as the weeks go by. There is a lot of information about getting to know your baby, from coping with crying or unsettled behaviour from your bundle of joy right to the flood of advice from well-wishers.
It is no wonder you may feel overwhelmed, emotional, anxious and overtired. But this is normal for new moms; it’s just the baby blues.
Most mums find the ‘baby blues’ stage only lasts a week or two, and then they gradually get back to normal. However it is not unusual for the ‘blues’ to continue, or for you to start feeling tearful, anxious and depressed at any stage in the first few months. Do not panic. If you are feeling bad much of the time, do talk to someone about it. Postnatal depression is common, and can be helped. It does not make you “a bad mother” to feel this way. You have a lot to adjust to both physically and emotionally. Your body is very much still a hotpot of hormones.
Looking after yourself is very important if you are to have enough energy to look after your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; babies weren’t meant to be brought up by just one person. Get rest, exercise and some time out, even if it is for a short time. Physically you should gradually feel stronger after the first few weeks, but it can take some time to feel you are back to normal energy levels. Make sure you have a postnatal check at about 6-8 weeks with your doctor; this is an opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have about yours or the baby’s health.
There are many “old wives tales” about foods you should not eat for fear of upsetting your baby. Some mothers find that if they eat a lot of rich or spicy foods, or particular fruits or vegetables their babies may be upset, but others can eat anything, so it is a matter of trial and error. However, drugs, tobacco or medicines you take may reach your baby through your milk. Alcohol and nicotine also pass freely into the milk. As a rule, DO NOT self medicate while breast-feeding.
Although it is hard to find the time in the early days after birth, if you can manage to eat well you will feel better and have more energy. Eat at least three times a day. Breastfeeding mothers don’t actually need to eat a lot of extra food or any special foods. Your appetite and thirst will be a good guide. Keep yourself well hydrated. Try to have a drink each time you are feeding the baby.
Remember, a healthy mother will raise a healthier baby.