Tips for First Time Moms
A new baby, a new mom: advice for first-timers.
You’re probably getting advice from friends, family, and even strangers, but if you don’t mind hearing a little more, we have some tips you might find helpful.
Labor & Delivery
For some strange reason, people feel the need to share horror stories with pregnant women. Ignore them. The vast majority of births go just fine, and there’s no reason to think yours will be any different.
It’s great to have an idea of what kind of birth you’d like to have, but try to keep an open mind about how the day will unfold. Getting your heart set on the birth happening a certain way can lead to disappointment if it doesn’t.
It can be tricky to know when to head to the hospital. Early labor can last several hours to a day or more. To keep from making extra trips to the hospital, stay home for early labor until your contractions are coming about every five minutes and lasting around 30 seconds or longer, or are starting to feel uncomfortable. Of course, always call your provider if you are unsure or concerned.
There’s no getting around the fact that childbirth can be painful, and every mom is different in how she experiences it. Instead of fearing the pain, think about how you might choose to cope with it. Some moms know right away that they’ll have an epidural or other type of pain medication. Some take a wait-and-see approach, while others want to experience childbirth without any pain medications. It’s entirely up to you, and whatever you choose, we’re here to support you. Read on if you want to know more about pain control for labor.
Your New Baby
You may feel a range of emotions after your baby is born, all of them normal: elation, relief, disappointment, worry, satisfaction. You might also be surprised by her looks, especially if a long labor has left her with a pointy head and flattened facial features. Your baby’s skin might have traces of the whitish coating called vernix on it, she may have lots of hair or very little, and her coloring might be pinkish or bluish, or yellowish if she has jaundice. It won’t take long until she’s looking more like the baby you pictured in your mind for the past nine months.
Your baby will be most alert during the first hour after birth, which is a good time to start breastfeeding. It may take a day or two until your milk comes in, but you will have colostrum ready in the meantime, which provides your baby with important immunities and energy. If breastfeeding seems difficult at first, don’t give up, and don’t hesitate to get help from nurses or a lactation consultant.
Giving birth is one of the most dramatic things your body can go through. You’ll probably be physically exhausted, very hungry, and on a sort of “high” just afterward. Your belly will still look about five or six months pregnant just after giving birth, which is completely normal. It’ll take some time for your uterus to contract back down again. Don’t try to lose the baby weight right away — doing so may leave you overly tired and can affect your milk supply. Talk to your provider at your six-week postpartum visit for tips on healthy weight loss. Know that in time everything will be mostly like it was before pregnancy.
If you experienced tearing during delivery, you might want to place a cold pack against your stitches and take medication for any pain and swelling. If you had a C-section, you’ll need to move and change positions frequently, just like after any operation. Following delivery (either C-section or vaginal) you’ll have what seems like an extra-heavy menstrual flow, which your nurse will check to make sure it’s not excessive. It will taper off over the course of a few weeks, and you should not use tampons during that time. If your bleeding increases, call your provider. This can be a sign that you’re over-doing it or you might have an infection.
Rest as much as you can, because your baby will need feedings about every two to three hours, day and night, for the next several weeks. If friends or family offer to help with meals, housecleaning or other tasks, take them up on it!