safe motherhood

Your new baby

The first week with a new baby

"The newborn period was far more tiring than I expected it to be. I found friends dropping in far more exhausting than I acknowledged. At that stage I didn't feel I could breastfeed in front of them, so I would panic if someone arrived near feeding time. Also, if I knew someone was visiting I always felt I had to be up and dressed, which was an added pressure." Anita

"I made sure that I stayed in my nighty for the first two weeks and had everyone else running round after me." Monica

"I was so grateful when my next-door neighbour just took away a basket of dirty laundry and brought it back the next day, washed and ironed!" Sharon

"In Asian families, it's traditional for mothers to enjoy 40 days of rest after birth, when they are cared for by mother or mother-in-law. Special food is prepared and the emphasis is on the mother resting, recovering and keeping up an abundant milk flow for the baby. The mother doesn't need to look after anybody but herself and the baby." Narinder

"I learned my lesson by the third baby: my mum came to stay and did the cooking, my cousin's daughter did an hour of housework after school for us every day, and my partner took leave from work and looked after the other kids. I just fed Louise!"

What partners can do:

• Take as much leave from work as you can.
• Praise the new mum - tell her how well she's doing.
• Take a backseat emotionally - bonding with your baby is the most important relationship for both of you at present.
• Try to monitor telephone calls and visitors.
• Help with the cleaning, tidying and cooking.
• Be an ally - if insensitive relatives or friends are criticising your partner, tell them she needs support not advice!