Postpartum care: Why mothers need support in the weeks after delivery
If the feeling of ‘getting hit by a truck’ had a name, it would have been ‘postpartum.’
Just like how everyone and anyone who has ever been nervous feels that they have butterflies in the tummy, anyone who has ever pushed out a giant watermelon feels like they’ve been run over by a big truck.
And just like there are no lost butterflies fluttering around in your internal organs, there is no big truck. However, there is fatigue from labour, the mental and emotional stress of motherhood, and the physical stress of making an entire human baby.
This is why mums need postpartum care and support in those first 6 weeks.
So, whether you are reading this for a friend who just gave birth or wondering what to expect after your delivery, here’s a simple guide to after-delivery care for mothers and why it is important.
What is postpartum care for a mother?
Congratulations! The baby is finally out, and you no longer have to carry 7 pounds of extra weight with you everywhere you go.
Now, you should be back to your old self – except it seems your body didn’t get the memo.
It is still slow, painful, and seems to be acting odd. (For one, it is leaking from everywhere!)
During the first 6 weeks after birth, a new mother’s body typically experiences a lot of physical changes. These include things like the healing of the birth canal, hormonal shifts, and lactation.
This period is known as postpartum, and the care you require during this time to deal with all these changes is called postpartum care.
During this time, a new mum requires ample rest, (although, with a newborn who feeds every two hours, it is an impossible feat), a healthy diet, and lots and lots of emotional and mental support.
Postpartum care also includes all follow-up appointments so that her healthcare provider can monitor her physical healing and assess her overall well-being.
This is critical because it helps her gain information about lactation and childcare, as well as ensures her body is recovering properly.
Due to a surge in hormones, many new mums are also susceptible to baby blues which, if left untreated, can escalate into postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is very common in new mums—so much so that 1 out of every 5 mums in Australia is suffering from PPD.
The 5 needs for mothers in the postpartum phase
It may seem like labour and delivery is the biggest challenge in this journey.
But, many mums disagree. They feel it isn’t the labour pains or the hours of agony in the delivery room, but the postpartum period that is the most difficult period during their entire motherhood journey.
This is why a new mum needs the following 5 things during the postpartum phase:
Access to healthcare
Access to regular medical check-ups, especially in the first few weeks after birth, to monitor physical healing, assess overall well-being, and address any potential health concerns is critical in her healing process.
Stitches can get infected, or milk ducts can get clogged, leading to mastitis, and access to medical assistance can help manage and recover from these issues. Various other health concerns for women remain even after successful delivery, like postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), which is the cause of 5%–15% of maternal mortality and health concerns among new mothers in Australia and New Zealand.
A healthy diet and vitamins
A mother’s body needs adequate nutrition to heal and recover from childbirth, as well as to support lactation if she is breastfeeding. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein is recommended to heal as quickly as possible.
Baby blues, a drastic shift in routine, and simply not getting the time to take a shower can take an emotional toll on new mums. This is why emotional support is also so crucial (and appreciated!) during this time. Emotional support from partners, family members, and friends can help a new mother feel more confident and less stressed. and even less lonely.
An extra pair of hands and some much-needed rest
Caring for a new baby can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Extra help with household tasks like cooking a homecooked meal, and caring for the baby, can help a mother feel more rested and less stressed, which will boost her recovery.
Trust me, you are no less than a hero for a new mum if you would just offer to watch the baby while she gets two uninterrupted hours of sleep.
Postpartum care kit
Last but not least, a postpartum care kit can help you cope with the discomforts postpartum throws at you.
A typical postpartum care kit would include items such as sanitary pads, pain relievers, nipple cream, a peri bottle and other essentials for new mothers.
Why is postpartum care for the mother important?
In Australia alone, the maternal mortality rate has been around 6.4%, between 2011 and 2021, during which 194 deaths of new mothers were reported within the first 6 weeks post-delivery, making postnatal care extremely crucial.
Postpartum care is crucial for new mothers, as it helps them recover physically and emotionally from the demands of childbirth. The postpartum period is a time of transition and adjustment, and new mothers need to receive the support and care they need during this time. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help ensure that the healing process is on track and that any concerns are addressed ASAP.
Emotional support from loved ones, counselling or therapy, and access to resources and information can help new mothers feel more confident and less overwhelmed during this time. It’s important for new mothers to be aware of the potential for mental health concerns during the postpartum period and to seek help if needed.
Even the smallest things, like talking to a trusted friend or family member without any judgment, can help a new mum feel ‘normal.’ If needed, seeking support from a mental health professional, or participating in postpartum support groups can all help manage mental health during this time.
Celebrating motherhood with a postpartum care kit
We often congratulate proud parents on the birth of their perfect baby, but forget to celebrate the new mum. We bring blankets and onesies, and cute teethers that the baby won’t need for another 6 months, but nothing for her.
So, if you have a friend who is about to go into labour or has just given birth, skip the onesies. Okay, maybe not completely because those tiny outfits are just so adorable, but maybe also add a gift for the new mother, like postpartum care products that you loved.
These could include, depending on your relationship and comfort, sanitary pads you loved, pain relievers that were sent from heaven, a nipple cream that saved your life, or any other essential that made postpartum easy (peri bottle, doughnut pillow, perineal cooling pad… The list of essential items to survive postpartum is actually longer than the list of items you need to survive a zombie apocalypse.)
Support through postpartum maternal care:
Motherhood is tough, and postpartum can be a really difficult time for new mums. Sleepless nights and a new routine that revolves around the baby can leave them feeling alone and isolated.
Add a candle and a message for support, or go all in with a DIY postpartum care kit with supplies a new mum would love. Encourage postpartum self-care with body butter, soothing candles, and tea, and she’ll love the thought.
Even adding something as simple as a note to your postpartum care kit, offering your time or supportive words, is a lovely reminder to let a mum know she is loved and she is doing great!
Trust me, when the nights are long, and the baby won’t stop crying, those thoughts can mean a lot more than you know.
For more information on mental health conditions in pregnancy and postpartum visit COPE or contact lifeline 24/7 on 131114.
As parents, we never stop learning. If you are keen to hear from trusted experts on topics ranging from sleep to starting solids, check out Kiindred’s selection of Kiin Courses. Our panel of experts are some of the best in their fields and are here to make your parenting adventure less mystifying and way more fun. Each course comes with a 7-day money-back guarantee, so you can purchase with confidence.
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