Giving birth involves a great physical and emotional strain, especially if you are a first-time mom. Besides facing changes your body has never experienced before, having your baby in your arms is a responsibility that may cause a lot of anxiety.
Giving birth involves a great physical and emotional strain, especially if you are a first-time mom. Besides facing changes your body has never experienced before, having your baby in your arms is a responsibility that may cause a lot of anxiety. Due to all of this, preparing yourself for those weeks of adjustment will help you transition into motherhood much more easily.
The quarantine tradition
The importance of recovery from labor for a mother is something the women of previous generations knew very well. For this reason you may have heard about the quarantine tradition in which a mother spent about six weeks after labor dedicated completely to the baby while other family members took care of the household chores, cooking and taking care of the children or the rest of the family. Thought this period, the mother had time to recover physically, breast feed and bond with the newborn.
The fast pace of modern life might make it difficult to devote six weeks exclusively to your baby while others keep house for you. Nevertheless, any period of rest time will help you to recover physically and will enable you to breastfeed your baby successfully. If you had a C-section, you might need a longer recovery period, since it is a surgical procedure.
How to prepare for recovery
There are several things you can do beforehand to make sure you get as much rest as possible in the days following labor. Some are:
- Ask a family member to come stay with you during the first days after giving birth to help you with the household chores and with the baby. In our culture it’s normally the mother or the mother-in-law who comes to help.
- If there is no family member who can come to help during this time, there are some organizations which might be able to help you. Doulas are women who provide you with emotional support during labor and can also help at home a few hours so that you can get some hours of rest at home. You can find these organizations on-line. One of the most popular is Doulas America.
- Prepare some meals ahead of time so that you don’t have to cook during these days. Simply by cooking extra servings in the last weeks of your pregnancy, and freezing them, you will be able to have some meals ready to defrost, to avoid having to cook. You can even use paper plates and cups at this time to make cleaning up faster.
Once your baby is born
It’s common for new moms to feel overwhelmed by all the things they have to do these first days, the novelty of having to take care of a baby and the obvious exhaustion felt after labor. It’s important that you don’t become exasperated because little by little everything will fall into place. When your baby settles into an eating and sleeping schedule you’ll see how everything starts to work out again.
Make a list of the essential things you have to do every day and forget the rest. You may really have to do the laundry but ironing or cleaning the bathroom could wait. Besides, try to get the most hours of sleep you can because exhaustion will make you feel even more overwhelmed.
If you feel overwhelmed, depressed and on the verge of tears or have strange thoughts or feelings towards your baby, talk to your doctor because you might be suffering from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is common due to the hormonal changes you are going through and it can be controlled effectively with the appropriate medication.