PARENTING


COPING WITH THE FIRST FEW WEEKS



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Remember, the first few weeks are hard, but it lasts for a relatively short time and it does get better. Here are a few tips to help you get through this stressful and emotional time.
Diet
Following the birth of a new baby, many women feel that they don’t have time to feed themselves. However, a nutritious diet, especially if you are breastfeeding, is one of the best things you can do for you and your baby. Keeping a good supply of nutritious snacks, like fruit, milk and wholemeal bread, which you can eat without cooking is very useful.
Tiredness is one of the biggest problems when coping with a new born baby. Making a few changes in when, how much and what you eat can help to increase your energy level.
Eating small portions of food frequently throughout the day, will help keep your blood sugar level up. Try not to wait until you are so hungry that you sit down and devour a huge meal. Eating a big meal will make you feel tired again as it takes longer and requires more energy to digest.
Fatty foods should be kept to a minimum as they also take longer to digest, so try to keep your meals and snacks relatively lean. Include a combination of carbohydrates and protein in each meal as they both have high energy effects.
Relax
A simple meditation is a powerful way to relax and unwind during the day. It is calming because it connects your conscious mind to the emotions you are cut off from during the daily activities. Some people who are experienced in meditation find it equal to having a few hours sleep.
Try this ‘beginners’ meditation:
• Make yourself comfortable either by sitting with your legs crossed on the floor, on a couch or lying down.
• Close your eyes.
• Notice your breathing and observe how it gradually begins to slow down.
• When your breath has regulated, focus your attention on the airflow out of your nostrils. Don’t think about the air in your lungs, or how your diaphragm moves, just remain concentrated on the sensation of the air entering and leaving your nostrils.
• At various points through the meditation, you may find it hard to concentrate. This is the critical moment of meditation. When your thoughts begin to wander and you get frustrated because you can't concentrate, let go of the criticism and just go back to focusing on your breathing.
• Keep concentrating on your breathing and bring yourself back to it when you think about it.
• Eventually you will feel your whole being relax.
Time
If you are constantly busy, you are probably exhausted too. Try to set a few minutes aside to organise your schedule each morning. Prioritise the day's activities and decide what can be moved to tomorrow. This should help you proceed through the day in a more relaxed state.
Try to delegate some housework to friends and family. During these early weeks any extra help will be badly needed. Ask for someone to bring round dinner or just come over to do some washing up. Sometimes people with their own small babies can be the most help because they understand what it can feel like.



FEELING THE BLUES

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The Baby Blues
The birth of a new baby is an emotional roller-coaster. The days and weeks immediately following the labour can be so overwhelming that you may find it difficult to deal with the extremes of feelings. Many new mums feel a combination of euphoria, wonder and awe, but equally anxiety, hopelessness and panic are usual.
Experts estimate that between fifty and ninety percent of all new mothers experience some form of mild depression right after the birth of their babies. There is no scientific evidence that can tell us exactly why many women suffer ‘baby blues’ however it is thought to be a combination of psychological anguish, hormones, physical discomfort and exhaustion.
Living with your new baby can be an extremely daunting experience. The day-to-day realities of caring for your infant may feel anticlimactic or overwhelming. You may also feel lonely and trapped by being in the house constantly. Your routine and social situation will most certainly have changed, making everything seem very unfamiliar.
After your baby is born, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone in your body drop dramatically causing a deficit, which can then lead to the blues. As your hormone levels return to their normal, pre-pregnancy levels, you may find that you will begin to feel more ‘yourself’ again.
Recovering physically from childbirth can take quite a while. After you have overcome the initial exhaustion of labour you may still have to heal from an episiotomy or haemorrhoids and adjust to breast-feeding, which can also add to the emotional dismay.
As a new mum you may have had countless sleepless nights. Staying up late at night to care for your newborn can often lead to sleep deprivation and increase any negative feelings.
Beating the blues
Try to give yourself as much time off as possible from housework and usual chores such as food shopping. Those things can wait or be done by friends and family. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
Make your own needs a priority as much as possible. Eat well, rest as much as you can, and gradually resume your usual activities, even if it's just a walk or a long hot bath.
Sleep is crucial to your emotional and physical health, so try to get as much as you can. Don't worry about sleeping at the usual time; just try to nap whenever your baby naps.
Postnatal depression
Postnatal depression usually occurs two to eight weeks after child birth. In some cases the baby blues simply do not go away or the depression can appear up to six months or even a year after the birth of the baby. If you are suffering from postnatal depression you may feel increasingly depressed and despondent and you may find that looking after yourself or the baby becomes too much. Some other signs of postnatal depression are anxiety, panic attacks, aches and pains, memory loss or inability to concentrate, prolonged crying, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in the baby.
If you think that you are suffering from postnatal depression don’t struggle on alone. It is not a sign that you are a ‘bad mother’ or are unable to cope. Postnatal depression is an illness just as any other illness. Talk to someone you can trust such as your partner or a friend or ask your health visitor to call. It is also important to see your GP, if you don’t feel up to making an appointment, ask someone to do this for you, or arrange for the GP to call. You may also find it helpful to contact the Association for Postnatal Illness, Meet-a-Mum Association (MAMA) or the National Childbirth Trust.
Puerperal Psychosis
Only one or two mothers in 1000 will also develop Puerperal Psychosis after the birth of their baby, which requires hospital treatment. Usually a complete recovery is made, although this may take anything from a few weeks to a few months.


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