“I just want to learn how to be a mom.
I want to enjoy every single second of it. “
When pop star Cardi B shared her feelings while expecting her first child, she echoed the sentiments of millions of mothers around the world. Yet, three weeks after she gave birth to her daughter, she realised how “lazy” she had become and how she could not even move her legs, forget about exercising. We couldn’t relate more.
American model Chrissy Teigan got most mothers in splits when she called her new baby “milk monster”. She joked, “If you kind of do the math, you’re kind of breastfeeding for 10 hours a day, total. They just use you for your milk, and you just feel like you are just a cow all day.”
The joys of motherhood also bring with them a tonne of challenges for new mothers. One common challenge faced by lactating mothers is postpartum depression. Celebrities such as British pop star Adele, American actor Bryce Dallas Howard, Canadian singer and songwriter Alanis Morissette, and Indian-American actor Mindy Kaling have spoken openly about normalising postpartum depression and the need for awareness.
Every mother, regardless of her background, education, social status, needs help.
We sought help for new mothers by consulting two gynaecologists who have been helping young mothers cope with pregnancy and motherhood for almost three decades. They had a lot of good advice and tips.
While Dr Veda Simons (MBBS, DGO) believes too much information stresses out the mothers, Dr Anita Gupta (MBBS, MS – Obstetrics & Gynaecology) emphasises on the importance of listening to ‘your mother’s advice.’
We compiled a list of six health tips for new mothers from what the doctors told us. Dig in:
Make a checklist for nutrition
“Many mothers know what foods to eat during pregnancy and what they will need after the delivery, yet few really follow through. I suggest making a checklist for both pregnancy nutrition and after. I encourage them to maintain a diary or journal of their diet or get their husband to do it for them. Make sure you are getting enough iron and calcium, it is okay to take prenatal vitamins and dietary supplements as long as you don’t suffer from severe side-effects, and you have discussed with your doctor first” advises Dr Gupta. If you need more guidance or have dietary restrictions, ask your doctor or consult a nutritionist.
Trust your gut
Dr Simons observes that today’s mothers are well-informed, and sometimes ‘over-researched’ on the subject. As a result, they constantly live in the fear of hurting the baby while neglecting their own health. “Trust your motherly instinct. When a baby is being made inside your womb, nature is producing this instinct within you. Trust that instead of spending precious rest hours researching on ‘Dr.Google’. That will open up time and window for your self-care – good sleep, healthy eating and exercising,” she says.
Equip yourself against Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Postpartum depression is more common than we realise. Some mothers feel low immediately after giving birth while others realise a strange grief weeks after. Feeling low after pregnancy is a common emotional change called postnatal blues. However, when this feeling is prolonged for more than a few weeks, it may result in PPD. “Surround yourself with people who will expect this to happen and can watch out for you and can get help if needed. Don’t be scared of sharing your feelings with your spouse or close friends. Opening up itself unburdens you to a great extent. Good news is there’s both treatment and counselling available for Postnatal depression,” adds Dr Veda.
Breastfeeding needs learning
Some mothers get it right the first time, others struggle to breastfeed. “It is okay to ask your mother or mother-in-law or your best friend about the right way and process of breastfeeding. Seek professional help and support if need be. There are lactation consultants, and doctors who can advise,” says Dr Anita.
Give your baby some tummy time
Dr Veda is an advocate of “tummy time”. She thinks if only young mothers trusted a human baby’s survival instinct, they could provide themselves with a lot of mental rest. “Holding the baby all the time or immediately when he/she begins to cry does no good to the baby or the mother. When you leave the baby on a safe, cosy bed several times a day, the baby digests the milk better while giving you some rest. Your rest is as important as the baby’s,” she adds.
Bleeding is normal
Most mothers will experience a certain amount of bleeding in the uterus even for six to eight weeks post delivery. This is fairly normal. “Seek a doctor’s help when you feel the bleeding is heavy or you have a fever. In most cases there is no need to panic and the bleeding turns to normal periods soon,” informs Dr Gupta.
A last word as we go
Never lose the joy that this time brings: the joy of feeling the baby move inside you, the joy of hearing the first cry, the joy of holding the baby for the first time, the joy of being the source of nourishment for another living soul.
But for this joy to come to fruition, you must take care of your own health equally. At Veira we are passionate about providing you with the information and the support you will need as you set out on this amazing ride. Make us a part of your motherhood journey. With Veira you will not walk alone.