by Tessa Foulds, The New Mummy Company
In the UK, the importance of receiving specialist Post Natal Care is often underestimated. Not only has a baby been born, but a mother has been born too. The first few days and weeks after having a baby are a very unique and special time. It is a period of enormous adjustment and often the start of a steep learning curve. It is intense, exhausting and demanding, but it is also wonderful, precious and irreplaceable.
Many cultures have special practices and customs that serve to recognise this unique time in the life of a woman. In some societies, women are not expected to carry on their usual lives, but are revered and recognised for the new journey they are beginning. One European country that provides practical support, advice and guidance to all new mothers during the postpartum period is Holland. Every mother is entitled to specialist post natal care from a Kraamzorg. A post natal practitioner who will be with the family for the first 10 days or so after birth, for a few hours each day, on a daily basis, offering assistance to the mother in the care of her baby, and older siblings if required, and undertaking light household tasks, including meal preparation.
In the UK, specialist post natal care will ensure that the mother and her baby, together with the father will receive valuable practical and emotional support in the first precious days after birth, helping them, and the whole family, to adjust to the arrival of the baby.
As a new mum, both you and your baby need to be gently nurtured and cared for and assisted with bonding, feeding and sleep. Gradually, as you get to know your baby (and for your own sanity!), your post natal practitioner will guide you in starting to establish gently a flexible routine for your baby that best suits your family – whether it be relaxed or one of more structure.
Additionally, parents are provided with guidance and advice to enable them to feel confident, empowered and self-assured when looking after their baby. Parents will be shown how to undertake such activities as bathing baby and settling baby and your questions will be answered and your concerns allayed. The post natal practitioner will also ensure that the mum receives the care and rest she needs after the birth.
Sadly, some new mums experience Post Natal Depression. However, a post natal practitioner is able to provide a professional, calm, caring, practical and empathetic approach, together with companionship, to help the mother to feel supported and nurtured, thus aiding recovery.
From experience, I have found that almost all new parents would value, and benefit from, the services of a post natal practitioner for a few days after delivery allowing them time to adjust to their new role and enjoy their baby and bond well. They want a mix between Mary Poppins and a Fairy Godmother! I believe that the best form of post natal care is someone who is an experienced and professional post natal practitioner, preferably a mother themselves, and is happy and prepared to provide all round care for the whole family including siblings, together with light household tasks, cooking and shopping, to ensure that all members of the family are well fed and watered and feel nurtured and cared for – a truly holistic approach!
A few useful tips in caring for you and your newborn:-
An aid to breastfeeding is to remember the word CHINS
- Hold baby close to you
- Support the head, but also allow it to flex
- Hold the baby in a line (this does not have to be horizontally, it can be diagonally)
- Nose to nipple (ensure the baby is positioned so that their nose is by your nipple prior to latching on)
- Ensure that the position is sustainable for the feed
Breast milk is great for alleviating any dry skin the baby may have, for putting on cracked nipples and for putting in baby’s eye if mildly infected.
Aid to settling baby
Ensure that baby has had a good feed and has been winded. Gently swaddle baby (if swaddling ensure less bedding is used so that baby does not get too warm), place baby in his cot and allow him a few minutes to settle himself. Where possible, always put baby in their cot when still awake so that they learn to settle themselves.
- Room temperature 16 – 20 degrees
- Place baby on his back to sleep with his feet at the bottom of the mattress
- Ensure all bedding is securely tucked in and cannot be inadvertently pulled over their head
- Ensure baby does not get too warm
- Baby to sleep in a separate cot in the parents room until 6 months
Care for new parents
Rest when baby rests, eat healthy and nutritious food regularly during the day avoiding too much sugar, drink plenty of water. Limit visitors in the early days. Accept all offers of help with housework, cooking and older siblings.
Enjoy your baby.