If you’ve recently had a baby you may feel as if you have been hit by a tornado. Unless you have live-in staff or helpful, non-judgemental family staying, this might also apply to your home. Everything’s a mess, there’s no food in and you’ve run out of nappies.
If this is the case, relax. Things will improve. The most important thing for you to do is rest adequately. If the thought of visitors is overwhelming, then say no. Family and friends might be desperate to see the new arrival, but they will have to wait. Certainly don’t feel you need to tidy up for their visit. If someone offers to help, or bring food, accept. You may want to be Superwoman and do everything yourself, but you already have done the extraordinary feat of bringing a new life into the world, so coast on that for a while.
The received wisdom is that you might get baby blues in the first few days after giving birth. During this phase you may feel you might feel teary, irritable and moody. On some days you feel you could charge up a mountain, on others that you could only lay at its feet. The support and understanding of your partner, family and friends is very important to get through this phase. However, if these feelings last beyond these early days and continue to get worse, it is best to seek advice from your doctor.
My hospital bag remained unpacked for five days. It’s the afternoon and I still haven’t brushed my teeth. I lurch from excitement to despair.
Why did I wake up in blind panic, because ‘the baby was lost inside the bed’, when he was safely in his cot in the next room?
That first-time mother was me. I remember the sensation of being marooned in a big tunnel straight after the birth, cocooned from reality by the epidural. I wanted to get cleaned up, eat and sleep. The midwife said, ‘let’s get Mum up to the ward’ and I thought, ‘my Mum’s not here, is she?’ I couldn’t get my head round the fact that I was ‘Mum’.
A few weeks after giving birth the mother may be asked by doctor, nurse or social worker about her emotional wellbeing, most particularly if she feels she is at risk of harming herself or her baby. It is very important to your talk to your health care professional about how you feel, without hesitation. This is important not only for you, but also for the wellbeing of your baby and family.
It is important to remember that every woman’s experience in the first few weeks after child birth is unique. It is not expected that every women will feel capable and serene at all times during this period.
The mental health of a mother following a birth is as important as her physical health. If you have any concerns about your emotional health or your baby, you should immediately seek help from your doctor. The sooner you get support, the sooner you will feel better.
Eat, rest, be with your baby without too many expectations. And take some time to nurture yourself. How you feel matters...for you, your baby and your relationship.