A new mom needs as much support during the first weeks at home with her baby as she did during the birth itself.
Here’s how you can help:
- Encourage her to sleep when the baby sleeps and to lie down or sit in a comfortable chair when the baby is awake.
- She needs healthy meals and snacks and lots of water and juice. Staying hydrated is important for all new moms, particularly those who are breastfeeding. Because breast milk contains 90% water, breastfeeding mothers need about 16 cups of water each day to compensate. This can come from food, other beverages and drinking water itself. It’s helpful to drink 8 oz. of water with each nursing session.
- Know that she’ll have strong emotions. Her hormones will be in flux for the first couple of weeks and can sometimes cause dramatic mood swings. Be prepared for a few tears. If, however, you notice she has continued, intense feelings of sadness or is overwhelmed for more than several days, encourage her to talk to her healthcare provider to rule out postpartum depression.
- Take the time to listen and support her. Beyond hormonal swings, many moms are blindsided with the overwhelming feeling that their lives have changed drastically and not necessarily for the better. It takes time to learn to balance the roles of mother and individual.
- If she is breastfeeding, help her succeed by learning about breastfeeding’s benefits (and challenges) along with her. Babies were designed to breastfeed, and breastmilk is the perfect food for them, but lots of questions can crop up during this early learning period and make new parents anxious. When you have questions about nursing, don’t wait—call the lactation consultants at our hospital.
- Hold and comfort the baby when mom rests, showers or just takes a break. As you do, you may discover many new ways of soothing him other than breastfeeding: rocking, swaddling, dancing with him, and talking face to face. Sometimes it’s comforting when you place your hand gently on his stomach. Babies love skin-to-skin contact; many a father (or partner) has found that a baby settles right down if he lies down with the baby on his chest, where the baby can hear his heartbeat.
‘When Can We See the Baby?’
Decide as a couple how you’ll handle requests from people who want to see the baby, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any visitor should be healthy, wear a mask and socially distance (staying at least 6 feet away) from mom and baby. But it may be wiser to simply not to have visitors until the pandemic is over.
Most babies and young children have had milder (or no) symptoms from COVID-19. But your baby and household can still be at risk of exposure from visitors who may unknowingly have and spread the virus. As the pandemic continues, consider these alternatives:
- Try connecting with would-be visitors online (FaceTime, etc.) or by phone and introducing your baby to them that way.
- If a friend or family member is coming for a few days to help with the newborn, you may want to ask this person to quarantine for 14 days beforehand or to get tested for COVID-19. Wearing a mask while helping to care for the baby and washing hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water is “a must” for anyone staying in your home for a while.
- Encourage family and friends who want to help out to do errands or prepare meals or snacks for you and your partner. They can drop off meals, groceries, diapers or other baby supplies without coming into your residence.
The pandemic has brought change and limitations to everyone’s lives, but family and friends can still be a big help and support system!
See also …
• A Message for Dads, tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics
This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.
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