This is in continuation of the child-birth series that I started in july. After my delivery, I understood that I have entered another process. Infact, the transition started as soon as the baby is delivered. It took me 2 weeks to get emotionally attached to my son. I mean it was not like as soon as I saw my baby my heart was flooded with bonding emotions for him. All those F.R.I.E.N.D.S. fans, it was not at all like Rachel crying seeing her daughter!! My complete focus was in understanding each and every task that needs to be done, starting from feeding to cleaning poops to bathing to.......awww.......the list is just endless.
Now when I reflect in the past 6 months, I realise there were so many phases and aspects to be taken care of postpartum. I am discussing my experiences taking each aspect at a time.
The moment I stood up and started walking, which was 2 hours after my delivery, I felt as if all my abdominal organs are hanging loose and my tummy is falling down and down! It was an awful feeling. Not to mention the excessive bleeding which was causing more discomfort. Anyway, a good 6-hour night sleep helped me come back to this world and realise that I am a mother now.
Since there was so much of blood loss, the body loses lot of its heat. Thus, my mom used to feed me with heaty food items. Considering that it was winter months and was pretty cold here, I had to wear a sweater and scarf too, lest I would get common cold. And if I am down with cold, it will very easily be passed on to the baby while feeding. Hence, I had to be very careful not to catch cold. I guess, in that sense, the Indian concept of confinement to new mothers seems logical. Of course, we tend to go overboard at times while being cautious.
We had hired a lady who used to give hot-oil massages to my son and me and then give us hot water bath. For my son, we used olive oil and for me, some Ayurvedic oil which helped relieve me from the aches in various body parts, like back, arms, shoulders. Since we are not used to carrying the baby all the time, it affects our shoulders and arms too. I had developed a muscular catch which lasted for first 15 days.
At that time, you are so drained out (thanks to sleepless nights, feeding) that it really feels great some one giving you a massage and a bath. The lady would then tie two soft-cotton sarees around my waist pretty tightly with a warning that I must not remove it during the day!! Well, one can also purchase waist-bands from the chemist. Well, I must say, the tying did help in pushing the tummy back. I am not sure about those who have c-section as there are stitches on the abdomen, in any case, the doctor will advise you.
I used to do abdominal exercises that helped in toning the abdominal muscles. It surely helped although, I never liked doing them at that time as all I wanted to do was sleep, which was like a distant dream. I developed dark circles under my eyes!! Anyway, at that time you cannot be much bothered about your looks, first you want to be physically fit.
My regular diet used to comprise of lots of green-leafy vegetables, bottle-gourd, ridge-gourd, bitter-gourd, salads, mostly rice, pulses(generally moong or masoor, arhar and chana used to cause acidity). I used to drink lots of water(warm water), juices, and coconut water.
In order to have quick healing of my wounds, I used to take little sonth powder(just a pinch) with ghee and rice. At night, used to take garlic roasted in ghee with rice or roti. Garlic adds a little smell to the breast-milk and also helps improve milk production. For Omega-3 fatty acids, I used to eat flak seeds since I am a eggetarian. Fish eaters have a benefit there.
There are some foods that are helpful in production of milk. Of course, the best method is nursing. The more the baby takes the feed, better will be the production (demand increases, supply increases!).
Anyway, these I had read at many sites and our lactation nurse also told, besides the ones that mom used at her time.
Jeera water, saunf water, sesame seeds(prepare til powder and can sprinkle on your curries), garlic cloves, coccinea(kundru), telaga pindi (Telaga pindi is the remains of sesame after removing the oil), sago.
For strength, mom had prepared dry-fruits mixture with ghee, jaggery, wheat-flour. It really used to act as energy-punch at that time. I could feel the difference while I used to eat it. Do not worry about calories at this time as mothers need more calories for recovery and for nursing the baby. With regular breast-feeding coupled with exercises, your weight will reduce.
I never used to like drinking milk so mom used to prepare sago-sevia-kheer and at night of course, had to have one cup of milk. It surely gave me some energy.
This is the most important part besides taking care of your own health. I mean mother's health and baby's nourishment goes simultaneously.
There are so many things to be taken care of while feeding the baby. Latching, the first and the most important aspect of healthy feeding. If the baby is properly latched on to the breast then the milk flow is proper, baby can suck easily, less occurrence of sore-nipples, and improves milk production.
I know a few of my friends, who said that their baby had problem latching on although milk was there in the breasts. So, they had to express the milk and feed them in bottles. One of them said that after a month with constant trying her baby finally learnt the trick and she could feed him normally from the breast. Thus, if there are problems latching the first few times, do not get upset and keep trying, taking the necessary steps to keep the baby satisfied.
Our paediatrician had advised that at times the milk flow is less, at that time, we must allow the baby to keep sucking. This action, kind of signals the mother's body that there is demand for more milk and consequently improve milk supply. From my personal experience I am telling it works wonderfully. Initial 2 weeks, the supply was less compared to the frequency of my son's feed but later on it improved.
I could not help but admire the engineering marvel that is our body. Once a nursing schedule is formed, you will not believe, that later on the milk will ooze out of the nipples at that exact time whether you are feeding or not. Well, obviously if you are not feeding then it wets your clothes. It was so exact, I just was in awe. It holds true still, now that 6 months have passed.
For those who have issues with milk-production must not get depressed firstly. It will improve as weeks pass-by. Just be positive and follow the instructions of your doctor.
I know many mothers in our neighborhood who had less milk and had to feed their babies formula-milk and I see that the children are pretty healthy. Thus, formula milk is not all that bad, just that breast-milk has its own benefits thats all. The most important being that it is unadulterated and has no hassle of sterilising feed bottles and other associated tasks.
Oh yes, in case of sore nipples, try rubbing little of your own milk on them, it will heal. I tried it and heals pretty quickly.
One goes through so many changes all at a time that the mother experiences a lot affecting her psychologically.
Firstly, the body is not fit hence, the weakness causes a lot of depression. Depression is more because that with the nursing, which cannot be compromised, drains you out besides the existing weakness on account of delivery. Depression manifests in many ways and, sorry husbands, but you are the victims of these mood swings!! Believe me, she will be hating her being a woman as she has to bear so much while you men are free and no worries!! But fairly speaking, I sympathise with the husbands too. It is as much a change for him as for you, dear mommy! Try having heart-to-heart talks and both of you will feel much better and closer.
Due to feeding and the recovery process that generally lasts for 4-6 weeks, there is no urge of having sex and this distances the husband and wife. This causes many silent wars between couples, unknowingly! Best is talk it out and have more of cuddling and hugging sesisons!!
Secondly, the baby cries more frequently as s/he is getting adjusted to the new environment, which is nothing like the womb of a mother! :) At times, its not just crying, they literally bowl their lungs out which makes many mothers anxious and the doubt creeps in "Am I going to be a good mother?" Well, do not worry you will be. As days pass by, you will be more alert and observant of the reactions of your baby to different stimuli and identify the irritants pretty soon!! But till the mother does not gain that confidence, her psychological health takes a beating.
Thirdly, none of the earlier clothes fit you well. Gosh!! That is the worst that affects any female. It cannot be categorised under vanity, its just the feel-good factor. We are not aspiring for 0-size figures here. Well, those who are ambitious, just keep some hold on your targets of reducing weights and waistlines, priority is the health of your baby and you.
Anyway, husbands be more liberal in complimenting your wives, and please let them be genuine rather than sound artificial, that hurts more u know!
Last but not the least, once the mother and baby are settled with the latching and feeding then comes the next phase of weaning, which is equally difficult. Its not all with the adjustments in the first few months. Once the baby starts solids, his or her demands for the mother's milk keeps reducing and many mothers go through emotional stress due to this weaning too. But, I guess this process has a subtle import to all we parents, specifically mothers. Children will gain independence level by level and thus, their dependence on us keeps reducing. We need to take it positively as the child grows. It is for the betterment of both the child and the parents.
Well, these were few of my experiences, many personal and few shared by friends. Surely, there will be many more, and will be happy if readers contribute their experiences for the benefit of all.
Dear mommies, stay happy and healthy, rest will follow!! :)