1: Limit visitors: Everyone is excited by a new baby and wants to drop by. Having extra people in your space can be exhausting for you as a new mother even if you don’t change out of your pyjamas or produce food and drink for them. If people want to come by make it clear that the visit can be 20 – 30 minutes tops. If they offer to bring you supplies from the store take them up on the offer, meet them at the door, take the supplies and trade them a peek at baby. In a couple of weeks you will feel up to longer visits and then they can come back. Social media gives you the opportunity to send out lots of photos of baby to your circle of friends so they can share in your joy without coming for a visit.
2: Have another adult around: If at all possible have helpful adult spend at least the first week or two with you. Having someone to bring you food and water while you nurse baby means you will feel better and recover faster. A set of arms to help you get up off the couch or the bed if you are feeling uncomfortable from stitches or incisions can make a huge difference. If you have to go out for appointments with baby have the other adult carry the car seat, they are heavy and your pelvic muscles are in recovery mode. LLLC’s information sheet entitled How Fathers Help Breastfeeding Happen has great tips for any adult who is supporting a new mother regardless of gender or relationship.
3: Know what is normal for breastfeeding: Even if you did lots of reading about breastfeeding or attended lots of La Leche League meetings during pregnancy and even if this is not your first baby you may find that you need a reminder about what is normal breastfeeding behaviour in the first few days. Keep The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding close by or check out the information sheets and Frequently Asked Questions on the LLLC website if you need a quick refresher. Sometimes talking things through with an experienced breastfeeding supporter is better than trying to problem solve using books or the internet. Contact a La Leche League Leader if you have questions.
4: Rest: Your body just went through a marathon. You need to take time to recover just as an athlete would after a major event. This doesn’t mean don’t move. Take things slow and easy and you will find you are able to do a little bit more each day. Your speed of recovery may not be the same as your best friend’s was. That is okay; listen to your body. Breastfeeding a newborn seems to have been designed by nature to make new mums take lots of rest breaks in the early days. When you are sitting and feeding baby you are doing good things for both of you.
5: Enjoy: There is nothing more wonderful than a warm sleeping newborn snuggled on your chest. You don’t need to put baby down when she falls asleep. The natural environment for a newborn is mother’s chest. Your breathing helps regulate her breathing. Your body temperature adjusts to keep her body temperature stable. Close contact stimulates her cues for breastfeeding and your hormones to make milk. When you need a break from holding baby she can cuddle up on someone else’s chest too. One caveat to snuggling with baby is that falling asleep with baby on a couch or chair is considered unsafe. If you are feeling sleepy but want to keep snuggling lie down on a safe sleeping surface or have another adult who is awake keep watch over you and baby.
6: Bonus Tip: Remember that La Leche League Leaders are available to answer questions, provide information or a listening ear at meetings, by phone or e-mail. Don’t wait until you are in a crisis to contact us. We love to help people understand normal baby & breastfeeding behaviour or help them seek solutions while the challenge is still a small one.
The first five days will fly by and before you know it your baby will be a week old!