Research, titled “What is the Importance of Educating Women on Postpartum Depression?”, highlights how, due to the expectation of women to be able to do it all, postpartum depression symptoms are frequently overlooked by mothers.
Educating women on postpartum depression is vital, especially before mom and baby and discharged from hospital, so that women and their partners know what symptoms to look out for and know when it it is time to get help.
It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of expecting, devising your birth plan and stocking up on everything your baby will need when they come home. But, sometimes, new moms forget their needs after the birth, a period known as postpartum.
In line with Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week, which runs from February 13 to 17, Dr Khungelwa Mrwebi, the regional clinical manager of Border Kei, Life Healthcare, says that while it’s important to care of your new baby, you must also take care of yourself.
Mrwebi says new mothers can get the correct postpartum care information by consulting their birthing medical teams, antenatal and postnatal organisations, and other reliable maternity services and platforms.
Life St George’s Hospital unit manager and midwife Susan Bolke shares how being pregnant and having a baby is just the first step towards a new reality.
The medical duo, Mrwebi and RN Susan, recommend that new mothers prepare for life after childbirth.
Prioritise your rest
Giving birth is a significant and life-changing event. You need time to recuperate mentally and physically. Rest is one of the best way to accomplish this, but getting enough sleep can be difficult with a newborn.
A few ways to ensure rest after baby arrives:
Meal prepping or precooked meals can save you time, especially when adjusting to your new routine.
Get out of the house at least once a week. A change of environment can be beneficial for you and your baby.
Be honest about your mental health
Bringing home a new baby can be emotionally draining. It's normal to feel stressed, overwhelmed or anxious. But if you don't feel like yourself or how you are expected to feel after having a baby, don't ignore your feelings.
It’s crucial, to be honest with yourself when it comes to your mental health. Postpartum depression and anxiety are common following childbirth and may occur with subsequent births.
RN Bolke recommends keeping an eye out for indicators of insomnia, loss of appetite, increased irritability or difficulties bonding with your infant.
Give yourself time to heal physically
Natural birth mothers may suffer from a perineal wound while Caesarian-section mothers will have an abdominal wound that will require wound care and avoidance of intense exercise for about six week. Don’t be tempted to exercise to soon because doing so will put you at higher risk of injury.
Allow your body time to recover from the childbirth experience and pregnancy during this period.
Wound care after birth
Wound care is an important part of postpartum care. Follow your clinician’s wound care guidelines and strive to keep the wound clean and dry.
When bathing, showering, or going to the toilet (in the case of natural birth), rinse the wound with a warm saltwater solution. Simply spritz the water on the affected region and pat it dry. When dressing the area, make sure there is no additional moisture on the wound.
Signs of possible complications and infection
Even if you take every precaution to protect the wound, there is a chance of infection, as with most surgical wounds. Ignoring the symptoms of an infection can have catastrophic, even fatal, implications. A fever, shivering, discharge, redness, unusual swelling, and unilateral pain down one leg are all indications that something is wrong.
Ask for help
You'll be able to tell where you need help as you adjust to your new life with your baby. You do not have to go through this alone. It is fundamental to have a support system, whether it is your partner, family, friends or even your health-care providers.
Mrwebi says that if you ask for from family and friends, your support system will be there to guide, comfort and even provide for you.
As the African proverb goes, "it takes a village to raise a child".