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The Post-Natal Period

18th May 2015

The first six weeks following birth is known as the post-natal period and needs to be treated as a special time and women deserve extra care. Your body and your mind are both engaging in important work whether or not you are consciously aware of it.

At Kensington Midwives, these are the areas which we feel are the most important.

Physical healing:

It takes your body about six weeks to heal. During that period, the bleeding completely stops and your reproductive tract returns to its non-pregnant state. In addition, your cardiovascular, respiratory, musculo-skeletal, urologic, gastrointestinal, endocrinal and nervous systems also return to their non-pregnant states. If you have had perineal tearing or an episitomy, you may be experiencing pain that makes it difficult to sit down. If you have had a caesarean, you may need additional time for muscular healing.

Learning to Breastfeed:

It can take time to master this practice and it can be emotionally frustrating, even if it is not your first time.

Bonding:

Most people believe this happens immediately ‘love at first sight’. However, for some it can take time and it is an ongoing process which requires a peaceful post-natal time.

Dealing with new emotions:

There is a new sense of responsibility. You have a protective love of your new baby and fears for their health and safety which can seem overwhelming. You need time to adjust to these new emotions.

Adjusting to Relationships:

No matter how well you have planned for this your relationship with you partner will undergo changes. You both need to adjust to the new situation and it can be stressful. Your partner may well feel neglected or if you have other children you may feel guilty for taking attention away from them.

Starting the Process of Separation:

This might seem like a strange thing to include but it is the beginning of this process. For the last nine months you and you baby have been one. The post-natal period is the first step in a long and gradual process of separation that carries on for many years. It does feel strange and takes a long time to get used to.

Learning New Things:

Especially with the first baby, there are hundreds of new things to learn. Breastfeeding, changing a nappy, bathing the baby, managing your life around the baby, … Unfortunately, you will be learning these new skill as you go and it will take time to develop your own methods.

Following the birth of your baby you have an adrenaline high and feel like you could conquer the world!. This does not last and your energy levels plummet and you may be discouraged.

For this reason, we at Kensington Midwives suggest that you take it very easy for the first few days and stay in bed. Here are a few tips to consider in the first ten days.

Keep visitors to a minimum and only have visitors who will make you feel good.

Stock up on nutritious food. Good choices are eggs, yogurt, beans, fish, chicken, leafy green vegetables, avocados, nuts, hard cheese, whole grains and fresh fruits. Make sure you are getting plenty of protein. You need about 700 more calories especially if you are breastfeeding. You also need more fluids, so plan on drinking about ten glasses of water per day. Ideally, stock up the fridge and freezer before you have the baby.

Redefine time:

This is a difficult one because now you are on the baby’s time, which means you have to adjust to the baby’s schedule. You will have to take life one moment at a time and set yourself realistic expectations. Resist the temptation to try to get too much done until you have had the time to adjust to your new life.

Move around:

Although it is very important to get adequate rest, it is also important to exercise once you feel ready. Exercise will speed the healing and improve your mood. Start with easy simple exercises to improve your circulation. Simple stretches and gentle movement for the first six weeks.

Don’t become isolated:

Once the visitors and help is gone and your partner returns to work, you may well fell isolated. This is when those friends you made at the antenatal classes are vital. They are women similar to you feeling the same way. You can all help each other. Also there are lots of mother and baby groups to join in your local area.

Communicate:

Communication is critical. There are many changes in your life right now and you need to talk them through with your partner, family and friends. Communication is critical.

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