SafeMotherhood
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LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF

Your feelings

The overwhelming relief and thankfulness after giving birth is hard to describe. Suddenly, after the intensity of labour, you are floating on high!

Enjoy this special time. You will remember it for years to come. The early days with a new baby can also be a time of confusing and complex emotions. Many women feel a sense of regret - even loss - when their pregnancy ends because it made them feel nurtured and unique.

Give yourself time. Talk through the birth with whoever will listen, or write it all down. The nostalgia for pregnancy will fade and you will soon move on.

However, some women will feel deeper distress. It may be that the birth was not as you planned. Perhaps things happened that you didn't want to happen - an assisted delivery or an unexpected Caesarean section - and now all you feel is anger and deep sadness. If you feel this way, act now. Your distress may fade, but it will probably not go away until it has been faced. Tell you midwife how you feel. Ask her to read through your labour notes and explain what happened - and why. Better still, ask to speak with the midwife or doctor who cared for you in labour. (See: Immediately after the birth/your feelings)

Instant love?

Some women fall in love with their new baby the moment they see them. Some women don't. Maybe your baby isn't how you expected, maybe a 'he' has turned out a 'she', or vice versa. Perhaps they cry a lot, or are ill, or weak - or have another physical problem. Maybe they don't feel yours yet - or maybe you are simply too tired.

Take each day as it comes. Keep your baby close to you. Hold them skin-to-skin. Feed your baby, care for him or her, and sleep with them. Act out love. It may take time, but it will become a reality.

Your partner

Creating a baby together must be the closest two people can get. "I think I'm quite a tough person, but I felt vulnerable and very weak after Jo was born. Stuart really looked after me then. I have to say he was wonderful."

It is common to feel deep gratitude and love for your partner after birth. Sometimes though, what you had hoped to be a time of shared happiness, becomes a time of increasing distance and tension.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, tell him that you're having a difficult time and you know that he is too. Using 'I' phrases - "I feel unsupported" - instead of 'you' phrases - "You never help me" - is good. Clear the air with a row, make a joke of it, try a cuddle - whatever suits your relationship - but don't let a bad situation linger. (See: Your feelings/what is postnatal depression?)

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