Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Home Health: The New Mother

When I was a young girl, women stayed in bed for at least two weeks after childbirth, if not more. By the time I had my children, medical experts had arrived at today's way of thinking: a mother should be up and around as soon as possible. This does make sense for the healthy woman.

However, it's wise to follow the guidelines given by your doctor or midwife for a complete recovery. Though childbirth is a natural process, it is strenuous. It also affects your internal organs, and they need time and proper exercise to return to their pre-pregnancy state. Attending to your recovery will not only ward off immediate after-birth complications, but may also prevent problems with dropped organs in later life.

After the birth of my second child, someone gave me the advise to be careful about what I lifted for one complete year. Of course, that was easier said than done, especially since I had a toddler and a baby. But, I learned the hard way that I should have heeded this advice.

Within a week or two after this delivery, I felt great! I was recovering even more quickly than I had after my first childbirth experience, and I was delighted. However, upon learning that people were coming over to the house, I rushed around the house, feverishly tidying things. This was foolish, as my mother was still staying with us to help out. I also should have relaxed a bit; people don't expect a house with a toddler and a newborn to be perfectly neat. In my whirlwind of activity, I injured myself. That set me off on the first of several bouts of heavy bleeding, which set my recovery back a great deal. Had I to do it over again, I would have moved more slowly and more carefully.

In today's world, most mothers are well prepared for the stages of pregnancy and labor. They are given lots of advice about what to expect and how to cope with any minor discomforts. Women are also well educated about nursing and about the baby's development over the first year of life. But, many women are surprised by the physical aspects of recovering from childbirth. Maybe, pregnancy books and childbirth classes should discuss this a bit more. But, even if a mother is surprised by some things, a little reassurance from a more experienced mother can put her mind at ease.

People often rally around new mothers in the first two weeks after a child is born. Often, both grandmothers take turns staying with the new mother and family. Church and neighborhood friends bring meals to the family. It's a good idea to check in from time to time with a new mom after the first rush of support is over. This particularly true if both her mom and mother-in-law live out of town. Some mothers breeze energetically through the first three or four months of a child's life. Other moms, however, may feel very fatigued and overwhelmed. Some may continue to experience hormonal flucuations for up to six months after childbirth. Every mother's post-labor experience is different, and a women may find reovery after one childbirth easier than after another.

If you have a brand new mother in your life -- maybe even your own daughter -- you may need to provide the encouragement and support she needs to make wise decisions during her recovery. If she is exhausted with a flood of company coming to see the new baby, you may need to be the one to say, "Mother and baby needs their rest now."

From my own experience and from watching young mothers around me, I'm convinced that many inexperienced moms tire themselves out unnecessarily simply because they don't know how to manage baby and a home, too. If you are an experienced mom, you have so much to offer the brand new mother. If she doesn't seem to be enjoying her baby as she should, often you can size up the situation and offer some helpful suggestions.

If the Lord blesses me by allowing me to become a new grandmother, I know I will want to spend every waking moment cooing over my grandbaby. Of course, grandmas do need bonding time with the new darlings of the family. But, it's important not to get so swept up in the baby so much that you don't do all that you can to help the mom. It's vital that grandmas help with other things so that the new mom is free to rest and bond with her own baby.


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