There are so many emotions that come with becoming a mom. It’s a huge life change, after all! For as much joy that it brings, it can also be difficult and overwhelming at times. Adding a child to your life and family is significant– especially during the first year of baby’s life. That’s why, as important as it is to care for your new infant, it’s also important to take care of yourself.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for new moms to be mindful of their physical, mental, and emotional health. After giving birth, your body experiences physical changes as well as hormonal changes. You will also likely experience changes in your sleep pattern as well as an overall change to your daily and evening routine. This can all affect your mental health as well as your physical health. Take it easy on yourself… you’ve been through a lot during pregnancy and childbirth, and now you have a baby! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and reach out to others for support.
Mom’s mental and emotional health
We oftentimes have the expectation that having a baby is a momentous occasion that should be all about joy. This expectation can result in disappointment when we’re feeling less than joyous. It is not uncommon to experience an initial feeling of “blues” after the arrival of your baby. New mothers may feel they have failed in some way as a mother because they don’t feel as bonded to their child as they had expected or don’t enjoy all of the aspects of motherhood as they feel they should. So often we hear people say, “children are the best gift.” And while they most certainly are, being a mother is also challenging, demanding, and hard.
If you’re struggling with postpartum depression, don’t keep it inside. Talk about it. There is no shame in asking for help and talking about how you are feeling, especially if you are the primary caretaker for baby. If you don’t feel good mentally as a new mom or a mom with a growing family, ask for support from your family, friends, and especially your doctor.
- Don’t wait for your six-week postpartum visit to talk to your doctor.
- Try to schedule weekly check-ins with family or friends, even if it is virtual.
- Think about what you could use help with and then speak honestly and openly with your partner about what they can do to help you during this time.
Think of this as building new routines into your daily life. Keeping lines of communication open will allow for a smoother transition to a new normal. Your provider can help connect you with community resources that you may not be aware of, and you can also click here to read more about mental health post-pregnancy.
Mom’s physical health
It is normal to have bleeding after delivery, and spotting can last for several weeks. If you ever experience heavy bleeding and are changing pads every 2-3 hours, you should contact your provider. Seeing small blood clots after day three is normal, as long as you aren’t changing pads too often. When in doubt, always reach out to your OB provider.
Six weeks after you deliver baby, you should have a follow-up appointment with your OB office – this is called your six-week postpartum visit and it’s critical for both mother and baby. This is an opportunity for you to discuss concerns and connect directly with an OB expert who will check on how you are healing in order to assess or clear you for certain things like physical activity. Women who are breastfeeding may need iron supplements or other medications which can be arranged based on mom’s needs as well.
If something comes up before your six-week postpartum visit, don’t wait until your appointment. Contact your OB provider to let them know what’s going on. They can help you decide if this is something worth coming in early for or provide you with proper medical advice to ensure you’re a healthy, healing momma!
It is very important to allow your body time to heal and enjoy the bonding experience with your new baby, which is a priority for their development. It’s recommended to wait until your six-week postpartum visit or talk to your doctor before you start exercising, even if you were physically active before and/or during pregnancy.
In general, the following is suggested:
- Simple Kegel exercises are important during pregnancy and after birth to re-strengthen pelvic muscles. These can be done as early as day one after baby is born.
- Low impact exercises, like yoga, are encouraged for mom’s physical and mental health after several weeks of healing.
- Wait at least 2 weeks before taking long walks and avoid intense exercise for at least 12 weeks after delivery.
If you find yourself wondering, “How in the world can I fit in exercise with a baby? I’m tired and there’s no time.” Not only is this the time to ask your friends and family for help, but there are many YouTube videos, apps, and online resources with great tips for how to work out when you have a new baby. Start slow. Look up things like, how to do yoga with baby. This way, you’re bonding with baby at the same time as taking care of your health and fitness – all helping with your mental health and overall well-being too. While you’re responsible for this amazing tiny human, it’s important to carve out time to take care of yourself too. After all, a healthy mom is a happy mom.
At Prevea, we understand one of the biggest and most impactful changes women face is having a child. We also want you to know, you’re not alone in this journey and we strive to provide you with the support and resources you need when you need them. If you’re interested in learning more, click here to watch recordings from a series of postpartum virtual talks on various topics including mom guilt, urinary incontinence, taking care of your after-baby body, and more.
About the Author
Manal Soliman, MD, MBA
Family Medicine Physician
Dr. Manal Soliman is a family medicine physician and the program director and founder of the MCW-Prevea Family Medicine Residency Program in Green Bay, where we have family medicine physicians who care for newborns, children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly.
Dr. Soliman has more than 20 years of experience as a faculty and associate program director in one of the largest residency programs in the United States. She has won yearly awards for her outstanding work with residents.
We’re honored to have her here in Green Bay helping to provide the community with more access to high-quality primary care. Learn more about our services or schedule an appointment here.