The first two weeks
The first two weeks can be a combination of pure bliss and perfect chaos. Whether this is your first or your fifth baby, there will be adjustments to make.
Families sometimes feel that they are suddenly alone, abandoned even, after having regular care throughout pregnancy. But there are numerous support services available to support you at this time and it is important that you feel confident to use them. You are not alone.
It is hard to resist trying to be the perfect parent (who doesn’t exist just by the way). Give yourself a break and ease into to your new role a day at a time.
You have been through an enormous physical and emotional experience. Your entire focus in the first two weeks needs to be on recovery and caring for your newborn.
Here are some tips to help keep your head above water.
- Keep things simple. Make the space and time to learn about your baby and to adjust to their needs.
- Eat well and keep up your fluids.
- Rest often and accept offers of help. If friends or family offer to cook, clean or look after your other children, accept!
- Allow yourself to recover. Birth is a big deal. Get lots of rest and take it easy, if you can.
- Ignore the housework. The most important focus is your baby.
- If your birth was difficult or traumatic, talk to a health professional. Sometimes a difficult birth can affect you for some time afterwards. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Watch how you are feeling. To some extent emotional ups and downs are normal but they may also be an early sign of more serious depression.Talk to a medical professional as early recognition of symptoms of depression can prevent them from becoming more serious.
- Keep visitors to a minimum. It’s hard to resist showing your baby off but your baby’s needs and your needs come first.
- If your breastfeeding isn’t working get some help. Talk to your GP or your Maternal and Child Health Nurse. The earlier you get help with breastfeeding problems the easier it is to fix them.
When your baby is hungry, they need you to feed them. When they are tired, they need you to help them sleep and when they are lonely or frightened they need you to make them feel secure. Meeting your baby’s needs – when they need you to – will help your baby to adjust and to feel more secure in their new environment. The more secure and safe your baby the more relaxed they will be.
A home visit from a midwife
Many hospitals provide a service where a midwife comes to your home within the first week after you go home. This is sometimes called a domiciliary service.
The midwife will check:
- how you are coping
- your caesarean wound or any stitches (if you have them)
- your tummy to make sure your uterus is contracting well
- your breastfeeding, to help you with any problems you may be having
- your baby to make sure they are adjusting well to home life and recovering from the birth.
In preparation for the midwife visit, you might want to write down any questions or concerns that you have.
Your Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Service
In Victoria, the Maternal and Child health Service is available to all families with children aged birth to six years. This a free service, funded jointly by your local council and the State Government.
The hospital where your baby is born will send a notice to your local council telling them that you have a new baby. Your local MCH nurse will contact you and arrange to visit you at home. This is separate to the visit from the hospital midwife.
After the first visit from the MCH nurse, you will then visit your local MCH centre. The visits are at around two, four and eight weeks, then at four, eight, twelve and eighteen months and at two and three and a half years of age.
The nurse will give you support and information on the following:
- feeding your baby and nutrition
- your baby’s health, behaviour and development
- your health and wellbeing
- your baby’s safety
- family planning (and contraception).
If you’ve not heard from your MCH nurse within ten days of coming home, telephone your local council and let them know.
If the centre or nurse does not suit your needs you can attend another centre at any time.
Your GP or local doctor is a key contact in your community. It can be very helpful to have a GP who knows your family well. If you are new to the area or you have not had a need for a GP until now, ask friends or family to recommend a GP.
Expressing breast milk
Expressing breast milk is when you use your hands or a breast pump to get the milk from your breasts. Whether you use your hands or a pump is dependant on how long you have been breastfeeding, the reason you are expressing and how often you are going to express.
- Expressing breast milk
Full breasts: Information to help you when breastfeeding
Around the third or fourth day after you give birth, your breasts start to produce lots of milk. This is known as the milk ‘coming in’. You may find you have full breasts, initially producing more milk than your baby needs.
- Full breasts: Information to help you when breastfeeding
Heatwave precautions for babies and young children
Babies and young children should be watched carefully during hot weather. They can quickly lose body fluids through perspiring, which can lead to dehydration. This fact sheet outlines some heatwave precautions for babies and young children.
- Heatwave precautions for babies and young children
Improving your recovery after birth – Physiotherapy advice
After you have given birth we recommend that you follow some simple steps which will improve your postnatal recovery.
- Improving your recovery after birth – Physiotherapy advice
Pelvic floor exercises
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments which support the bladder, uterus (womb) and bowel. It is important that all women exercise their pelvic floor muscles everyday throughout life, to prevent weakness or improve strength.
- Pelvic floor exercises
The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.