First 6 weeks for a new mother are rocky. Your delivery may have been easy or complicated, you may have had a cesarean or vaginal delivery, you may have laboured for a few hours or for a few days- no matter how unique your delivery experience has been, the trauma a woman’s body goes through is the same. It is going to need time to recover.
As a first time parent, the overall exhaustion had become quite overwhelming for me, mainly because of different time clock newborns follow. In the beginning, it would not be wrong to say that I felt that my life had completely gone upside down….something that I was neither prepared for nor was acceptable to me in the beginning!
As the adage is- 6 week postpartum rest is a rebirth for the mother. You would occasionally get this advice from your elders that if the 6 week postpartum period is done correctly, it can have benefits that last for the rest of the mother’s life!
But amongst several other factors, taking proper rest is one of the most essential ways of taking care of yourself as a new mother.
However don’t take the advice of “resting” literally because here resting for 6 weeks doesn’t mean sleeping, necessarily. Instead, this time must be best invested in connecting with your own self, your body and your baby. It can be simply laying/sitting quietly or catching up on reading/writing or just nursing & bonding with your little bundle of joy.
But in reality, it’s easier said than done!
Postpartum Hormones: It’s Absolutely Normal
- As a new mother, I found the “confinement” associated with these 6 weeks to be one of the major causes of depression and mood swings. The melancholy would make me weep and think irrationally at times.
- All my life I had been the one who would take charge of anything & everything happening around. So this resting phase for me was extremely monotonous and unproductive.
- I remember bursting into tears every time I looked at my babies because the force of that love had just up-ed and pummelled me senseless. At other times there were moments when I looked at them and not be so sure about this motherhood thing after all. Trust me, you might have a hard time coming to terms with how the birth happened or the fact that you are no longer pregnant. You might be too exhausted to give a thought to any of it.
- In the first few weeks, one might feel loss of identity, of the real ‘self’. The thought of being responsible for a new life can turn out to be taxing, scary and even awkward.
- In terms of your relationship with your partner, you would feel a paradigm shift. From being a ‘couple’ to being ‘parents’- the change might take some time to seep into your lives. You and your partner may not have as much time or energy for each other for a while. But you also will get to know each other in new ways, as parents. It’s common to have a little or no interest in sex after childbirth. It is best to talk with your partner and be patient with each other to sail through this phase.
- This is also the time of onset of ‘Baby Blues’. You may cry or feel sad or irritable for no reason. If your symptoms last for more than a few weeks, or if you feel very depressed, ask your doctor for help to rule out ‘Postpartum Depression’.
The commotion a new mother feels in terms of feelings and emotions cannot be defied in absolute sense. Perhaps there is no ‘right’ way to feel as a new mom.
6 Essential Tips For New Moms
As much as it’s exciting to become a Parent, the journey of parenthood is stressful and exhausting leaving you with emotions of complete pandemonium. The first six weeks with a newborn are a series of ups and downs for any parent — major ups and major downs! It’s intense, and then it’s over, and you remember it as a blur.
However, it is advisable to invest those first few weeks in concentrated rest. And here are a few simple tips-
- Relieve yourself from all other household related chores and focus only on your baby and yourself. Ask for help and take when it’s offered- be it from mom or mom-in-law or a friendly helpful neighbour.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. This may be only a few minutes of rest several times a day, but these minutes can add up.
- Excuse yourself from obligatory visits from friends & family that might eventually leave your exhausted.
- Get outside for a few minutes each day. You can begin walking and doing postpartum exercises, as advised by your healthcare provider.
- Seek help in breastfeeding. There are several breastfeeding products like feeding pillow, breast pump, soothing gels that help relieve the stress and pain associated with breastfeeding. One can involve their partner in bottle-feeding the baby (if you have resorted to feeding bottles). This way, someone else can feed the baby, and you can have a longer period of uninterrupted sleep. Remember, Lack of sleep and rest are your worst enemies after giving birth.
8 Things To Do To Keep Yourself Busy & Happy
People tell you that It’s tough being a parent, but you never really know how hard it truly is until you’re faced with the task yourself.
At one point post birthing, you might feel that you are oozing with energy and could get back to usual lifestyle very soon. However, it is advisable and beneficial to take things slow. The concept of postpartum 6-weeks comes with a backing of scientific logic and must not be treated as just another “parenting tip”.
But if the idea of confinement or resting for 6 long weeks is not your cup of tea, one can resort to these simple tips to spend this time best- with the baby and yourself!
- Start working on your Baby journal- this is one thing that keeps getting ignored or procrastinated because once you get into regular errands with the household chores and a little more active baby, you would end up trying to recollect the dates & moments. So while you are sitting, breastfeeding or just ‘resting’, keep updating your baby developments, your thoughts, messages form friends & family etc.
- Missing your spa visits? Soak your feet in warm water while breastfeeding the baby and sit back & relax!
- Heard about one-hand-one-click shopping? This is the time to try it out. With the baby with you now, it is easier for new moms to stock up baby products like diapers, clothes etc. So pick up your phone and get shopping! Don’t forget to shop some comfortable clothes for yourself- with the shrinking uterus, you might experience your belly getting back in shape very soon.
- Most new moms complain of foggy memory and slow sense postpartum. Don’t worry, this is the work again of your funny mommy hormones. So utilise this time to keep your mind up & working. Pick up a Sudoku book or brain teasers to keep the pace up.
- A typical nursing session is for almost 15-20 minutes. And guess what, same is with TED talks! Covering topics on almost everything under the sun, these work great to kill time…and learn something new.
- A new mum on an average clicks 20-30 pictures of her newborn ( of course this figure is not research backed). Don’t let the pictures just be a part of million other pictures on your phone. Download a Baby Art app and create cute memorable baby pics (thank heavens for smartphones!)
- While you thought the celebrations are over because the baby is out, think again? Utilise this time to prepare for Baby Announcement! Start working on list of friends & family, baby announcement gifts etc and make the best of this period.
- Get active on social media- With several Facebook help groups, especially for new mums, this is a great time to participate in discussions, ask questions, clear doubts and help fellow mums basis your experiences. In the process, you might make new mommy friends and that becomes a wonderful medium to socialise.
Your baby would soon become more active and demanding, on the other side of the 6-weeks period. It’s a great idea to make use of this time in resting, relaxing, bonding & introspecting.
This post has originally been written for The Channel46. Read the article here.