You've welcomed your beautiful new baby to the world and have now brought him home. Having a new baby can be an exciting and joyous event. But it can also leave many new parents, moms especially, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Some moms might feel that compared to the first few weeks of life with a newborn, childbirth was the easy part!
Between the endless feedings, sleepless nights and other responsibilities, many women feel really, really tired in the weeks after birth. You may find it hard to balance taking care of a new baby, yourself, your family and your home. Take comfort in knowing you're not alone. These feelings are normal. You can take steps to help you find more energy and overcome new mom fatigue.
Get plenty of rest
When there's a new baby in the home, sleep is on everyone's mind! Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day, often in about 3-hour periods. In the first few weeks of a baby's life, it can be hard, if not impossible, for mom to get a solid stretch of 6 to 8 hours sleep at night. Try these steps to help you get the rest you need.
Eat healthy and be active
Eating healthy foods and getting exercise can help you have energy and feel rested.
Look to family, friends and others for help
As much as you may want to be "super mom," no woman can be everything to everyone. If someone offers to help, think about taking them up on it. Ask your partner, family and friends for help when you need it.
Caring for a new baby can be a wonderful time in your life. When you're feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, remember that the newborn days won't last long. Soon, you'll be better able to manage your time and energy and enjoy these first precious moments in your child's life.
Yes. Breastfeeding may decrease the odds of getting pregnant by delaying the return of a woman's menstrual period. However, breastfeeding does not prevent pregnancy, even if the mother is not getting a period. Many women ovulate before they see their period return. If you want to be certain not to conceive again until you and your partner are ready for another child, talk with your health care provider about when to return to using birth control. Note that some oral contraceptives that contain estrogen may decrease a woman's milk production. If you think this might be a problem for your milk supply, discuss different birth control options with your provider.
Most experts recommend that, after the birth of a child, you should wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant again. This applies both in the case of a vaginal or cesarean birth. Waiting 18 months gives your body the time it needs to fully recover from the last pregnancy. It also helps prevent health risks during your next pregnancy, like premature birth or having a low-birthweight baby. Spacing pregnancies too close together also has been associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Frequent pregnancies can have an impact on the mother's health.
Sometimes it's not possible to wait so long, either because of your age or other reasons. The best thing to do is to talk with your health care provider about what’s best for you.
However, if you're planning to have more than one child, it's best to wait no more than five years between pregnancies.
A cesarean (c-section) wound infection is caused when bacteria get inside the incision (cut) from a c-section. A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your health care provider makes in your belly and uterus. Bacteria can cause the cut to get infected.
Signs of infection are fever and painful, red, swollen skin around the incision. Call your health care provider if you have any of these signs. Your provider may drain the incision to release the trapped bacteria.
Most c-section incisions heal without any problems. You’re more likely to get an infection if you:
Deep vein thrombophlebitis (DVT) is a blood clot inside a vein. DVT is rare, but it can be a serious health problem if it’s not treated. Without treatment, the blood clot can travel to your heart and lungs and block blood flow. This can cause chest pain, breathing problems and, in rare cases, even death.
Blood clots also can happen in the veins around your pelvic area. This is more common if you’ve had a cesarean birth (c-section). A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your health care provider makes in your belly and uterus.
Signs of DVT include a high fever and tenderness, pain or swelling in your leg, especially around your calf.
Hormonal changes make all women at risk for DVT after giving birth. Other risks for DVT include:
If you think you may have DVT, call your health care provider immediately. You may need to go to the hospital. Your provider may give you a blood thinner to treat the clot and prevent any new clots.
Endometritis is infection of the endometrium, the lining of the uterus (womb). Bacteria that cause endometritis grow in the uterus lining, at the spot where the placenta breaks away after birth. The placenta grows in your uterus and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.
Endometritis can spread through the uterus. Sometimes it reaches blood vessels in the ovaries and pelvis.
Endometritis usually happens 2 to 3 days after birth. If the infection isn’t treated, it can cause more serious health problems, like infertility.
Signs of endometritis include:
Call your health care provider if you have any of these signs.
If your health provider finds that you have endometritis, antibiotics (medicines that kill infection caused by bacteria) can help clear up most cases.
Mastitis is a breast infection that’s caused by bacteria. Bacteria usually get into the breast during breastfeeding.
Bacteria from your skin and your baby’s mouth can get into the breast through a crack in the skin of your nipple. Bacteria also can enter your breast through the opening to milk ducts in your nipple.
Signs of mastitis include:
Mastitis can be painful, but it usually doesn’t lead to serious health problems. Your provider may give you antibiotics (medicines that kill infection caused by bacteria) or acetaminophen (like Tylenol) to reduce your fever and help you feel better.
Even though it may hurt, it’s best to keep breastfeeding or breast pumping if you have mastitis. This helps empty your breasts and takes away some of the painful pressure. You can’t pass the infection to your baby through breast milk, so it’s safe to keep breastfeeding.
Postpartum bleeding is bleeding from the vagina after giving birth. It’s normal. However, heavy bleeding (hemorrhaging) can be a sign of other health problems. The most common causes of serious, heavy bleeding after birth are:
If you have serious bleeding after birth, it most likely happens when you’re still in the hospital. Your health care provider may massage your uterus or give you fluids through an IV needle into your vein. This can help stop the bleeding. She also may give you oxytocin (a hormone that can help your uterus contract). In very rare cases, a woman may need surgery or a blood transfusion.
Your period may start again 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth if you're not breastfeeding. If you are breastfeeding, your period may not start again for months. Some women don't have a period again until they stop breastfeeding.