Knowing how to look after your newborn will help take some of the stress out of those first days at home. So we’ve included this section on things that will concern you after the birth, such as feeding, bathing and changing, as well as how to cope with the physical changes taking place in your body after the birth.
Just as you had to adjust to all the physical and mental changes in pregnancy, it’s exactly the same after the birth – except you’ve got to do it a lot more quickly and cope with the demands of a newborn at the same time!
Once the adrenaline fades away, the first physical sensation you’re likely to have after the birth is sheer exhaustion. This could last a few weeks, so cut yourself some slack and concentrate on looking after your baby – rest whenever the baby sleeps, let the housework slide and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. Thankfully, in India, help is usually available for the new mum!
Although you’ll be looking and feeling loads thinner than before, don’t expect to be able to slip back into your skin-tight jeans just yet. It can take a while for your figure to return to something like its pre-pregnancy shape – some women manage it in a few weeks, but for many, it can take months. Post-natal exercises are important to help with this ‘return to normal’ but it does take time. Be patient and don’t give up!
This is the vaginal discharge you get after the birth. It can last weeks (or months) and goes through a range of colours from red to pinky-brown, to cream before stopping. If your loss is getting heavier each day rather than lighter, you are passing clots, have a smelly discharge, or tummy pains, contact your doctor immediately.
Your bottom is likely to be the most painful area after the birth – especially if you’ve had stitches (episiotomy). If sitting is painful, take paracetamol and try using a cooling gel pack for comfort, or have a warm bath and then dry the area thoroughly with a soft towel. Dry heat is very good for keeping the area disinfected and clean. Occasionally, antibiotics may be required. Special cushions may be used for sitting on, to improve comfort, especially while breast feeding the baby. Eating a well balanced diet will aid healing. Most stitches will dissolve in around two weeks.
You may feel cramp-type pains as your uterus gradually returns to its normal size. These can often be stronger when you’re breastfeeding as this helps stimulate the uterus to contract. These pains can be more uncomfortable for second-time mums.
If you’re Rhesus Negative and your baby is Rhesus Positive you will be given an anti-D immunoglobin injection within 72 hours of delivery.