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  Baby: First 10 days - Birth, the mother and the newborn
 
A time of intense adjustment

The birth experience and the 10 days that follow are intense periods of change for both you and your new baby. You will be coping with new feelings which can range from extreme joy to the unexpected arrival of the baby blues on the third day as your hormones try to unscramble themselves…and with physical conditions arising from the birth. If you had a vaginal birth you may be dealing with the discomfort of episiotomy, struggling with the pain of going to the toilet and even maybe the problem of incontinence. If you had a caesarean then you have had major abdominal surgery and may be experiencing the pain and discomfort that accompanies such a procedure. The unexpected abdominal cramping when breastfeeding is the uterus contracting back into shape, so try to welcome it as a friend and visualise that jeans button doing up easily!

A large milk delivery

And then to cap it all, you may experience engorgement on the third or forth day as your milk arrives with a vengeance. This is not an easy time for you or your baby as you adjust and the baby learns to express its needs. Be gentle and patient with yourself and your baby. Never feel embarrassed to ask for help – you will need it now more than any other time in your life perhaps. Often a problem that may seem insurmountable to you can be sorted out with a clever trick.(Here’s a good example – a cabbage leaf inside the bra? It seems to draw the heat out of your hot engorged breast, comes out completely limp and pretty much cooked and the relief is immense! This is a good example of the knacks you would never learn if you didn’t ask!)

What’s it like to be born?

The baby experiences labour with you, and is subject to intense pressure. He/she is not as passive as once believed, and is equipped with a range of reflexes which help the baby to respond appropriately and aid the process. From the warm and safe womb the baby experiences the trauma of the birth process and the brutal emergence into the harsh cold world. The baby is forced to take his/her first breathe with those lungs that have never been used before, and can no longer rely on the placenta for nutrition and blood circulation. If you look at it this way you can understand why your baby can sometimes be inconsolable. Yet many babies cope with amazing grace to the whole process and emerge calm and sleepy for these initial days. If your baby does not cope as well, it’s all too easy to panic and feel inadequate when your baby won’t stop crying. But it important to try to stay calm while you learn to identify his/her demands. Remember when you are plied with mountains of well-meaning advice – some of it will work for you and some will be useless….you are allowed to decide what is valuable!

Mom’s big job

You have an important job in these initial days. That is just to cope. No-one is asking more than that, and if you just take it minute by minute and ask for lots of help you will get through and emerge wiser and proud of yourself. A vital part of this initial job is to master breastfeeding. Do not assume that if this is not your first baby you know it all. Every baby is different. Like driving a car or baking a cake, its not difficult, but it is a skill and requires mastering. Ask for help. Do not suffer in silence. Once again, a simple tweak can be all that is needed to turn feeding from a nightmare to the blissful experience that you had visualised. A trained breastfeeding councellor will give you invaluable advice.

 
   
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