Me after the birth

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Giving birth is one of the most extraordinary experiences of a woman’s life. Yet after all the months of careful preparation and anticipation, the moment of birth is almost never what you had expected. Your health and the condition of the fetus will help determine what actually happens. What matters is that the baby is here at last and healthy (click here to learn how your baby will start his/her new life).

1- Bonding with your baby

If you have a delivery without complications, you’ll be able to spend the first hour or so after birth holding, stroking, and looking at your baby.
The first exchanges of eye contact, sounds, and touches between the two of you are all part of a process called bonding which helps lay the foundation for your relationship as parent and child.
Although it will take months to learn your child’s basic temperament and personality, many of the core emotions you feel for him or her may begin to develop during this brief period immediately after birth.

As you gaze at your baby and he or she looks back following your movements, and perhaps even mirroring some of your expressions, you may feel a surge of protectiveness, awe, and love. This is part of the attachment process.
It’s also quite normal if you do notimmediately have tremendously warm feelings for your baby. Labor is a demanding experience, and your first reaction to the birth may well be a sense of relief that at last it’s over.

If you’re exhausted and emotionally drained, you may simply want to rest. That’s perfectly normal. Give yourself until the strain of labor fades and then request for your baby. Bonding has no time limit.
Also, if your baby must be taken to the nursery right away for medical attention, or if you are sedated during the delivery, don’t despair. You needn’t worry that your relationship will be harmed because you didn’t “bond” during this first hour. You can and will love your baby just as much, even if you weren’t able to watch his/her birth or hold him/her immediately afterward. Your baby will also be fine, just as loving of you and connected to you.

2- Baby blues

Having a baby can be both exhilarating and exhausting. It can bring much joy, but it can also challenge you in ways you never expected. Soon after giving birth, many women feel weepy and moody. You may be blessed with a beautiful baby and a loving partner, yet you find yourself crying over things that usually wouldn't bother you.

You may also feel exhausted, unable to sleep, trapped, or anxious. Your appetite may increase or decrease, or you might feel irritable, nervous, worried about being a good mother, or afraid that being a mother will never feel better than it does right now. Rest assured: all these feelings — known as the "baby blues" or "postpartum blues" — are normal during the first couple of weeks after childbirth. In fact, up to 80% of new moms experience them.

Causes and treatment of the baby blues:

  • After birth, your body changes rapidly. Your hormone levels drop, your milk comes in and your breasts may become engorged, and you may feel exhausted. These physical realities can bring on the baby blues.
  • Emotional factors also contribute to the blues. You may feel anxious about your baby's well-being, your transition to motherhood, or adjusting to your new routine. Your new responsibilities can feel overwhelming.

  • The good thing is that the baby blues aren't an illness, and they will go away on their own.

 No treatment is necessary other than reassurance, support from family and friends, rest, and time. Sleep deprivation can make the blues worse, so make an effort to rest whenever you can. Even a ten-minute nap can leave you feeling better.

3- How much weight will I lose right after giving birth?

You probably won't return to your pre-pregnancy weight for some time, but you will lose a significant amount of weight immediately after delivery.
Subtracting one 3 to 3.5 kg baby, another 0.4 to 0.9 kg of placenta, and another 0.9kg or so of blood and amniotic fluid leaves most new moms about 5.4 kg lighter.

The weight keeps coming off, too. All the extra water that your cells retained during pregnancy, along with fluid from the extra blood you had in your pregnant body will be looking for a way out.

So you'll produce more urine than usual in the days after birth. And you may perspire a lot, too. By the end of the first week, you'll lose about 1.8kg of water weight. (The amount varies depending on how much water you retained during pregnancy.)

4- Why am I losing my hair?

If your hair got thicker during your pregnancy, you may now start to shed it in handfuls. Don't worry - you won't go bald.
During pregnancy, high estrogen levels may prolong your hair's growing phase, causing less to fall out than usual. After you give birth, your estrogen levels tumble and you begin to shed more.

Over time, the rate of new growth and shedding will return to what it once was. Your hair should be back to its pre-pregnancy thickness about six to 12 months after you give birth. On the bright side, if you suffered from excess facial and body hair during pregnancy, you can expect to lose that hair three to six months after having your baby.

5- What's going on with my skin?

Hormonal changes, stress, and the fatigue brought on by new parenthood may affect your skin along with the rest of your body.
Some women who had perfectly clear skin during pregnancy will have more breakouts in the months following delivery.

On the other hand, if you suffered from acne during pregnancy, particularly if it appeared for the first time or got worse, you may begin to see some improvement now.
Any stretch marks you developed will gradually become lighter in color, though they won't disappear altogether.

6- New mom diet plan

After delivery, the time to get out of your maternity clothes eventually arrives.
The challenge is you are a new mom and you don’t have time for complicated calorie counting or restrictive diets.
However, you have to be realistic about weight loss and don’t start dieting too soon especially if you are breastfeeding. (Refer to your dietitian before starting any diet plan).
Nevertheless, opting for a balanced nutritious diet with exercise is the best and the healthiest way for you and your little one.

Right now, nourishment is the most valuable thing you can give your body. Your body needs time to recover and adjust to changes.
Eating and drinking a variety of healthy foods and beverages from every food group will help ensure you are getting the nutrients you need to maintain your energy, nourish your baby, and rebuild your nutrition backbone.
Simplify your food choices by posting guidelines on your refrigerator and applying one new tip each day:

  • Whole grains: Eat whole grain carbohydrates.

  • Tip: Choose whole wheat bread and pasta over white.
  • Vegetables: Eat in abundance.

  • Tip: Consume a variety of colors – red, orange, yellow, and green.
  • Fruit: Eat 3-4 pieces each day.

  • Tip: Always have an apple in your purse for those “must eat now” moments.
  • Dairy: Eat something with calcium at least 3 times per day.

  • Tip: Snack on milk, yogurt and cheese which are high in calcium.
  • Protein: Include protein in each meal.

  • Tip: Choose lean meats, chicken breast and grilled fish filet.
  • Fat: Choose plant-based fats.

  • Tip: Replace butter with olive oil, nuts, avocados and flaxseed.
  • Hydration: Sip water all day long and get in at least 8 glasses a day!

  • Tip: For a refreshing spritzer, mix sparkling water and a splash of fruit juice.
  • Treats: Indulge in something delectable a few times each week.

  • Tip: Enjoy it, you deserve it!
  • Time savers: Focus on healthy conveniences.

  • Tip: Use fresh or frozen, pre-cut and pre-washed vegetables. Stock up on healthy lunch items such as soup, whole grain crackers, sandwich meat, and low fat cheese.  

Snacking is a great way to get the nutrients you need to maintain energy and prevent low levels in blood sugar even after your baby’s born.
Snacks and smaller, more frequent meals help keep nausea at bay, keep you more energized, and prevent huge fluctuations in blood sugar.
Keep snacks and meals simple:

  • Fruit is the most portable, easy, healthy snack around; never be without it.
  • A glass of milk can provide any simple meal or snack with an easy boost.
  • Frozen vegetables are just good for you.

Keep in mind that good nutrition for you and your family doesn’t have to be challenging. Keep it simple, stick to the basics, plan ahead, and delegate some of the shopping and food preparation when possible. This will give you the time you need to care for yourself, your husband and your baby, and to enjoy the wonderment of it all.