Postpartum Care for New Moms
September 19, 2023Health News
Rest, Proper Nutrition and Asking for Support
By Cate Barnett, RN, BSN, Postpartum Clinical Supervisor, The Family Birth Center at Northern Nevada Sierra Medical Center
The days and months after delivering a newborn are an important time to monitor a mother’s health. Postpartum care in the first six to eight weeks during recovery sets the stage for long-term well-being. Your body is going to change during the postpartum period, including your physical and mental health, so it’s important to ask for support, rest and maintain proper nutrition.
Finding Restful Moments
New parents often experience exhaustion while caring for a newborn. Although a solid eight hours of sleep each day is not realistic in the first months of birth, here are a few tips to find restful moments.
- Share the responsibilities of newborn care with your partner or visiting family members. This will give mom moments to rest.
- Take a break a few times a day, even if only for a few minutes. Walk outside for fresh air, lay down in a chair or couch, or listen to music to create a soothing environment.
- If you allow visitors, set specific times to visit so you know when to expect family and friends. This will limit how much time you have visitors in your home and give you other moments for rest and recovery.
Nutrition Is Fuel for Recovery
When mom is well hydrated and fed, she builds energy and strength to take care of herself and her newborn. And, if you plan to breastfeed, drinking plenty of fluids and maintaining good nutrition will help with milk supply.
- Plan simple meals to get in a healthful breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ask family and friends to start a meal train, if making meals is too much work.
- Before baby arrives, load your pantry and fridge with snacks. Use grocery delivery services to restock items or ask support partners to make a trip for you.
- Keep a reusable water bottle handy and refill often during the day. Especially postpartum, you need more water to maintain milk supply, if breastfeeding.
Postpartum Symptoms Not to Ignore
The average recovery time for a vaginal birth or c-section is between six and eight weeks, sometimes longer depending on the circumstances of your birth. During this time, mom will experience changes to her body that may not be familiar.
Here are symptoms that should not be ignored postpartum. Seek care immediately from a nearby emergency department, or find care at a local urgent care clinic or contact your OBGYN for less emergent symptoms.
- Very heavy bleeding (light spotting is normal)
- Fever over 100.4 that persists
- Mastitis, which is a condition that can occur from breastfeeding
- Blurry vision or severe headaches
- High blood pressure
- Severe abdominal pain
- Signs of an infected surgical incision
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Leg pain or swelling
Postpartum Depression and Support
Motherhood is a wonderful experience and meeting the continuous demands of a newborn can put pressure on new moms. With this pressure can come the feeling of the “baby blues.” Feelings may include disappointment, irritability, impatience and restlessness, among others. Postpartum depression is much more serious than temporary blues and should be taken seriously.
This type of depression may develop from hormones, becoming a new parent, stress, history of mental illness or other reasons. If you are experiencing sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, feelings of isolation, confusion, lack of concentration, low self-esteem or similar, you should seek care from a qualified provider or seek immediate support resources.
24/7 Emergency Confidential Resources
- Call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988
- Text HELLO to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line
Above all, new parents should give themselves grace and the time to adapt to their new role. Always ask for help and lean into resources if you need support. You will find with time and the development of your newborn, the stages of having a baby start to become more natural.