After Baby Care
The time after having a baby is called the postpartum period. These weeks can be very busy for you. Your body is healing, you have a new baby to care for, and your emotions may feel all over the place.
If you had your baby vaginally, your bottom will feel sore for a few days. If you had a cesarean section (c-section) your incision and belly will be very tender. Ask your caregivers at the hospital for tips to help with the pain.
Help the healing process:
- Move around whenever you can. This is very important
- Eat healthy meals and snacks
- Drink lots of water
What will happen to my body?
Remember it took 9 months for your body to change so it won’t go back to normal overnight!
You will bleed from your vagina for about 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. It will be like having a period- heavy and dark red at first and then lighter and pink or brown toward the end. You may also have some cramping in the first few days.
- Still have a little belly bump
- Experience swollen and tender breasts as your milk comes in. This will happens whether or not you choose to breastfeed.
- Feel tired
- Still have swelling in your ankles
- Feel like your emotions are out of control -feeling happy one minute and then crying the next. This is normal as your hormones are changing. If your emotions prevent you from taking care of yourself and your baby, speak to your doctor.
Remember to always listen to your body and rest as you need to.
Postpartum Depression Information
The baby you’ve waited so long for is finally here but you just aren’t feeling the joy you thought you would. Why? Most moms will feel emotional during the postpartum period. You may be sad, irritable, scared, overwhelmed or all of these. This is known as baby blues. Your hormones are going through big changes as your body adjusts to not being pregnant. You aren’t getting a lot of sleep. Your body feels weird. You and your baby are still trying to get to know each other and sometimes it is frustrating to understand why your baby is crying. Considering all of these, it’s no wonder you’re emotional! Don’t worry, these baby blues usually go away in a few weeks.
If these feelings don’t go away, if you can’t take care of yourself or your baby, or if you feel out of control, talk to your doctor right away. You may have postpartum depression which very common for new moms. Other signs of postpartum depression include:
- Feeling like a bad mother
- Being very, very tired
- Problems with remembering things
- Anxiety or panic
- Obsessive thoughts or behavior
- Not being able to sleep
- Eating too much or too little
If you are having any of these symptoms or are worried about postpartum depression, talk to your doctor right away. The good news is that there are lots of treatments that work.
Don’t let the baby blues or postpartum depression get you down. There is help for you and you can still be a good mom!
Your amazing body just grew a human being and now it is making the perfect food for that sweet baby. Breastmilk has so much to offer:
- It has the perfect balance of nutrition
- It is always the right temperature
- It is easy to pack and always ready to use
- It doesn’t cost a thing!
It is the best thing to feed your baby.
Your breastmilk changes as your baby grows so it always meets your baby’s needs. The milk your body makes for the first week or so is called colostrum. This yellow-colored milk comes in small amounts but it is the most nutritious and beneficial milk you will make. It is so important it is sometimes called “liquid gold!” Your milk will change to a thin, white fluid but it will still have all the nutrients and fat your growing little one needs.
So how do you get that this wonderful milk into your baby? The key to breastfeeding is a good latch. Take advantage of the nurses at the hospital and have them help you learn to get your baby latched onto your breast. Start by holding your baby close, turn them so their belly is against yours. Make sure their body is straight by checking that their ear, shoulder, and hip are all in a straight line. Grab your breast from underneath, holding it with your hand in a letter ‘C’ shape. Gently rub your nipple on baby’s bottom lip and wait for them to open really wide. When you see that big wide mouth bring the baby toward your breast and place your nipple in their mouth. Keep holding your breast until baby has a firm latch and is sucking well.
Signs your baby is latched:
- Baby’s chin is against your breast and their nose is away from your breast
- Baby’s lips are flared out and not tucked in
- You do not feel pain. You may feel a tug but if it is very painful, try again
- Your baby’s mouth is full of nipple and they aren’t just on the very tip
- Your baby has a rhythmic sucking pattern
- You hear gulps or swallows
In the beginning, your newborn will need to eat every 2 to 3 hours, even during the night. They may be very sleepy but you should still try to feed them. As baby grows and your milk comes in you can feed less often. When feeding your baby, make sure they empty one breast before going to the other side. The milk that comes out at the beginning of the feeding doesn’t have as much fat. You want your baby to get all the milk out of your breast so they get fat to help them grow and make them feel full. For some babies eating one side is enough, other babies need to eat on both sides. Pay attention to your little one’s cues to know when they are still hungry.
Signs baby is hungry:
- Rooting – turning their head to the side with their mouth open
- Sucking on anything that comes near their mouth
- Rubbing their face on your chest or shoulder
- Sucking on their tongue or lip or smacking their lips
- A short, insistent cry
How do you know if your baby is getting enough to eat?
Diaper changes are a good key. Your little one should have 6 to 8 good wet diapers a day and at least one poop a day, though many breastfed babies will poop more often. Your baby should be fairly happy after a feeding. Weight gain is another sign. Make sure to keep all of your well-baby appointments so the doctor can monitor your baby’s growth.
Having trouble breastfeeding?
There are lots of resources for help with breastfeeding. Start by calling the hospital you delivered at and ask if they have a lactation consultant, which is someone who knows all about breastfeeding. You can also call The International Lactation Consultant Association at 1.888.452.2478 or La Leche League International 1.800.525.3243.
Remember, breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby but that doesn’t mean it will always be easy. In the beginning, take your time and be patient. It will take time for you and your baby to learn this new skill. Try not to get frustrated and hang in there, momma!
When your milk first comes in, you will be surprised at how big and hard your breasts are! This usually happens during the first few days after delivery. Don’t worry, it will get better. Feed your baby a lot, feed in lots of positions, and wear a bra that fits. If your breasts are still hard after 2 or 3 days, call your doctor.
Leaking from your Breasts
Your very full breasts are dripping and spraying, your bra is all wet, and you may even have embarrassing spots on your shirt. What is going on? As your milk supply is coming in this is all normal, and the good news is you are making milk for your baby! Wear nursing pads in your bra to help catch the leaks. Dark colored shirts can help hide wet spots. You can also put a little pressure on your nipples to stop leaks.
Some moms get an infection or a clogged duct in their breast. This can cause mastitis, or a swelling of your breast. It is very painful and can also make you feel like you have the flu. This is a serious problem so call your doctor right away. You can take an antibiotic for the infection.
Problems with Baby’s Mouth
Sometimes a baby’s mouth is not the right shape for breastfeeding. Even though you can’t see a problem, their tongue, jaw, chin, or other parts may be the wrong shape. This can make breastfeeding painful and very hard to do. Call the hospital and ask to be evaluated by their lactation consultant. You can also ask your baby’s doctor for help.
Low Milk Supply
It can be hard to know if you are making enough milk for your baby. If your baby cries after feeding on both breasts or doesn’t have a lot of wet diapers, you may have a low milk supply. To make more milk, you need to feed or pump more often. Your body makes milk when your breasts are empty so the more you feed and pump the more milk your body will make. Some women can only make a little bit of milk no matter what they do. It is okay to supplement with formula if your milk is low.
Flat or Inverted Nipples
Normal nipples stick out, making it easy for a baby to latch on. Some moms have nipples that are flat or even go in to their breast (inverted). This can make it hard for baby to latch on and feed. You can try to pinch your nipple and pull it out or squeeze your breast to make the nipple come out. The best thing to do is work with a lactation specialist.
Sore or Bleeding Nipples
Ouch! Your nipples are not used to all this attention. It is normal to have some tenderness during the first few weeks as you and baby learn this new skill, but if you have lots of pain during breastfeeding then your baby is not latching on the right way. Try changing positions or working with a lactation consultant. You can also rub breastmilk on your nipple to make them feel better. If your nipples are bleeding a little it is still okay to breastfeed. If your nipple or breast have a red rash or are crusty, this may be a yeast infection. Keep your breast clean and dry and talk with your doctor or your baby’s doctor to get a cream for the infection.
Does your baby prefer the bottle over the breast? Or do they refuse a bottle and you have to go back to work? If your baby prefers the bottle, make breastfeeding easier by pumping before a feed to get your milk flowing. Make sure you are holding baby in a comfortable position. Look at your baby and talk to them while you feed. If you can, stop bottles until baby gets better at the breast. If your baby refuses a bottle, make bottle feeding more like the breast. Hold baby in a similar position, visit with your baby, and watch to see if the milk flow is too fast. If your baby is choking or dribbling a lot of milk while bottle feeding, don’t hold the bottle so high during a feeding. If you hold the bottom level with the ground it will slow the milk flow and make it easier for baby to eat.
Plugged Milk Duct
A plugged milk duct hurts! This is a hard lump anywhere in the breast. The best way to unclog a duct is to keep breastfeeding. Make sure your bra fits well and isn’t too tight. Put something warm on the lump. Massage the lump while your baby eats and make sure your baby empties that breast when feeding.