New mothers undergo profound physical and emotional transformation that can leave them feeling exhilarated yet exhausted. They are faced with a new situation where they have to deal with occasional physical pain, hormonal changes, emotional fatigue, changing sleep patterns and other experiences that are totally new to them. It is important to keep in mind that these experiences should not take away the joy of bonding with the newborn. Rest and rejuvenation are vital to cope with the post-partum period, which lasts for about two months after giving birth to the baby.
Feeding the baby and taking care of the mother’s health are the two most crucial things to be focused on for the first three weeks after delivery. It takes about two months for a new mother’s body to return to the natural state. This period is a time to bond, nurture and build trust between the mother and child. Apart from frequent waking up at night, hormonal changes are pronounced in the new mother. On the other hand, the baby learns to adapt to situations outside the mother’s womb. Sleep, diet and exercise play a vital role in restoring health to the mother. When it comes to rest, the best advice is to sleep while the baby sleeps, without overly worrying about the routine chores. It is advisable to take help from family and friends.
When it comes to diet, it is important to maintain a balanced diet, with plenty of fibers and fluids. Quality nourishment is important as energy output must be sufficient to produce breast milk that is the major, or rather only source of nutrition for the baby. Quick, nutritious foods that take little preparation time include fruits, raw vegetables, cottage cheese, yoghurt with raisins, nugget-form cereals, cheese on toast, broiled meats, and so on. Two to three quarts of fluids per day is recommended for breast-feeding mothers. Taking hot water and hot beverages like decaffeinated tea is also advisable.
For those suffering from anemia, iron-rich foods, such as lean red meats, spinach, organ meats and egg yolks are recommended. In some situations iron supplements may be essential to restore iron levels. Iron supplements must not be taken along with calcium-rich foods as calcium hinders iron absorption. They should be taken with sufficient time interval in between. Calcium sources are milk, cheese, yoghurt and even antacids. New mothers, who have undergone a cesarean-section, must give adequate importance to nutritional management. Vitamin C aids in healing the surgical wound, while protein aids in repairing the body. Some mothers may need multivitamins with magnesium calcium, Vitamin C and B-group vitamins to meet the body’s requirements. When it comes to losing weight, each woman’s body responds differently, and hence patience is important. Breast-feeding can help lose some weight in due course, but nutrition is more important than losing weight fast.
Some daily exercise, such as walking is important once the mother feels physically fit to do so. Meditation and relaxation are also helpful. It is good to keep the baby near the mother, as it would be helpful to maintain the feeding schedules. Communicating with other women who have been through motherhood can be a valuable source of advice. Reading books could be helpful as well. New mothers should keep educating themselves on various issues of motherhood, as information is power.