Postpartum care

You’ve come a long way, mum! Now, after 9 months of pregnancy, hours of labour and an emotional delivery, it’s time for some self-care. You might want or even be told by friends and family that you should focus on your newborn, but it is becoming increasingly clear that postpartum care for new mums is equally important. During the postpartum period — the first 6 weeks after childbirth — the physical and mental well-being of mothers is a priority that shouldn’t be ignored. Let’s take a closer look at postpartum care during this special time and how you can find the support you need as a new mother.

The Importance of Postpartum Care After Delivery

The postpartum period is a challenging time for any family. New mothers, whether they gave birth vaginally or via Cesarean section, are still in recovery. At the same time, they will experience many changes in their body, from tenderness in the breasts to hair loss, skin changes and mood swings1.

Postpartum care for mothers and newborns is critical with almost half of postnatal maternal and infant deaths occurring within the first 24 hours2, and 66% occurring within the first week3. Making your health and your baby’s health a priority is a must.

Of course, a new child means that together with your partner, you are now a family, or your family has a new member. Your little one’s arrival will change almost everything in your life — how you relate to your partner and children as well as the roles you play from day to day. Communicate openly with family members and solve problems together. This is the time to come together and receive the support you need.

Postpartum Care for New Mothers’ Well-Being

Remember, job number one is rest and recovery, so dedicate yourself to your well-being first. In particular:

1. Rest

Congratulate yourself on a job well done and rest. Get as much sleep as possible even though this may be difficult with a newborn who wakes up every 2 to 3 hours for feedings. Sometimes, your baby just wants to be held, so get help from your partner.

Most importantly, does your OB-Gyne practice at the hospital you want to give birth in? You’ll want your labour and delivery to be supervised by a doctor who you trust and also knows your pregnancy.

2. Focus on Nutrition

Part of recovery is getting the right nutrition. This isn’t the time to concern yourself with “bouncing back” to your pre-pregnancy weight. Increase your intake of healthy food like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and protein4.

3. Exercise

Once you are feeling stronger, you can consider becoming more active again. Exactly when to start exercising depends on you, as well as your doctor’s advice. In general, you should get 150 minutes of moderate exercise — any activity that raises your heart rate and allows you to start sweating — every week5.

4. Special Care

In addition, you should pay special attention to any vaginal soreness or vaginal tears/incision if you gave birth vaginally. You can sit on a cushion or a padded ring, or you can use ice packs to relieve the discomfort.

For mums who gave birth via Cesarean, you need to take care of your C-section. Wash the area daily with soap and water and pat dry, making sure to always keep the incision dry and clean6.

The Baby Blues

It’s normal for new mothers to experience “the baby blues” — negative emotions such as feeling angry, sad, or overwhelmed. In fact, 70-80% of mothers experience negative feelings after the birth of their child. So there is no need to feel guilty for these emotions.

Doctors are unsure of the exact cause of the baby blues but suspect it is related to hormone changes as well as lack of sleep that commonly happens in the first months of your baby’s life8.

Typically, the full strength of these emotions occurs within 4 to 5 days of delivery, lasting for a few minutes to a few hours. You can expect these emotions to pass after 2 weeks8.

Another important thing to know is that the baby blues is not the same as postpartum depression. If the baby blues do not pass after 2 weeks, consult a doctor.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression differs from the baby blues in both intensity and duration. Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression does not go away on its own; it requires medical treatment4. Your doctor may ask you to undergo counseling or prescribe medicine.

In many ways, the emotions you feel during postpartum depression are similar to the baby blues. You may feel sadness, anger, hopelessness, and self-blame. Or you may have a hard time concentrating or find it difficult to be with friends and family. You may also have feelings of social isolation and a lack of sleep9.

In addition to these symptoms, you may also feel more severe emotions such as thoughts of hurting the baby or yourself. Some new mothers may also feel paranoid or hear voices9.

Should you suspect you are experiencing postpartum depression, there is no reason to feel any shame. Many mothers go through this experience. What’s important is that you seek help immediately. You do not have to go through this alone. Speak honestly to your family and consult a doctor as soon as you can.

Remember, postpartum care should be your priority during the first weeks after delivery. Get the rest you need, ease yourself into your new life, and seek support when you need it. Your journey with your new baby is just beginning. There are countless changes right at the start, and it may not be joyful or rewarding right away… that will come. Always keep in mind that you are not alone.

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1 Postpartum care: After a vaginal delivery,,
Accessed Aug. 13, 2021.
2 Every Newborn, An Executive Summary for The Lancet’s Series. May 2014.
3 Nour N. 2008. An Introduction to Maternal Mortality. Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology. 1:77–81.
4 Postpartum Care: Tips for the Recovery Process,
Accessed Aug. 13, 2021.
7 Postnatal Care of the Mother and Newborn,
Accessed Aug. 13, 2021.
9 Postpartum Depression,
Accessed Aug. 13, 2021.