A postnatal experience can vary enormously depending on so many factors, read on to find out how you can help your postnatal experience
The place of birth, the type of birth and the kind of care and education that is offered in pregnancy can all affect how you feel in the first few days and weeks of being a new mother.
The midwife you have on the first day can affect how you learn to breastfeed. Your rest in hospital may be affected by having the option for your partner to stay or if you are sharing a room with someone else. You might be in more pain than you expected. You might choose to go home early or you may stay in hospital for five days.
Regardless of all these factors, there are a couple of things you can know now that may help your postnatal experience.
Much of the first few days of being a new mama, and being a new baby, can be about learning and discovering together how to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding your baby is a learned skill. Many years ago, we learnt how to breastfeed through observation and open discussion. More recently within western culture, and somewhat controversially, breastfeeding has become something that we hide from others and do privately. So many women I look after postnatally have a mistaken belief that breastfeeding should be painful, or that cracked nipples are normal, when in fact this can indicate a baby that is not latching properly.
Use the first few days to gently teach yourself and your baby how to breastfeed comfortably. Trust your instincts. Breastfeeding isn’t the same for every woman - different babies and different breasts results in different experiences. You will probably hear lots of different, sometimes conflicting, advice from the midwives that look after you. What works for one mama and baby duo, might not work for another, and that’s okay.
You are allowed to cherry pick what is offered and adapt it to your own breastfeeding experience. Ask your midwife lots of questions and be kind and gentle with yourself. Don’t breastfeed through pain and discomfort, and if you’re still feeling uncomfortable or unsure, ask to speak to a lactation consultant.
Click here to see a great resource of good attachment from Raising Children Network.
Another great resource is the Australian Breastfeeding Association see more
Shop Tinitrader's Breastfeeding range
Visitors & Family
The balance of wanting to show that incredible little crumpet to the world and getting through the first days of sleeping, feeding and self-recovery can be a tough one to manage. I often encourage the partner of mama to manage this for her and baby.
Visiting hours are in place so that education, care and rest can happen effectively, and new families can go home feeling confident and rested. Practice a secret signal with your partner, so they know when it’s time for the visitors to scoot on home. It’s hard to ask people to leave, but in practice, just saying, ‘thank you so much for coming, but I think we’re ready for a feed now,’ will have your guests out of there in a flash.
Most people are pretty perceptive to gentle prompting. Also, I don’t know a midwife that wouldn’t be happy to do this for you. It might be harder to give her a secret signal, but you can always tell her before visitors arrive that you’d like help with a feed at a certain time. It’s much easier to get a baby to attach if you’re not concerned about your partner’s great aunt peering over your newly ample bosom trying to give you advice.
My final piece of advice is this - your postnatal experience will be so much more enjoyable if you and your partner feel involved in the decisions around the care of yourself and your baby.
Being involved in your care is one your basic healthcare rights. So ask lots of questions and get clarification if you don’t understand anything or if you feel unsure. And don’t forget to trust your instincts!
Disclaimer: This is a post directed at new mothers that are hoping to breastfeed. When I write about breastfeeding, my aim is never to make women who cannot breastfeed, or choose not to breastfeed, feel polarized. I support a mothers right to choose how to feed their baby, and will always endeavor to educate and assist women to make a decision that works for them and their family.