New Mom Survival Guide - the journey
Having your first baby is quite a challenge for most moms. But moms have survived motherhood for millions of years and so can you. You just need to know how to look after the baby without neglecting yourself.
The Last Few Months of Pregnancy
Pregnancy is not an illness unless you have a condition that makes pregnancy a challenge. You still have time to look after yourself while preparing for baby’s arrival.
1. Stay Active
Unless you have a medical condition and your doctor has told you not to exercise you must exercise. Exercising during pregnancy can:
- Boost your energy levels.
- Relax your muscles and help you to sleep better.
- Prevent excess weight.
- Increase muscle tone, strength and endurance.
- Reduce constipation and bloating.
- Relieve back pain.
- Reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.
- Help you to get back into shape after pregnancy.
Walking provides moderate aerobic conditioning with minimal stress on your joints. You can also swim, do low-impact aerobics and cycle on a stationary bike. Strength training is fine as long as you stick to relatively low weights. Drink plenty of fluids and do not allow yourself to overheat. Moderation is the key word when you exercise during pregnancy. (Mayo Clinic).
2. Pelvic Floor Exercises
The weight of the pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Practice Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the uterus, the bowels and the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles give you better control of the muscles during birth, making birth easier. Also you have better control of the bladder so you won’t suffer from incontinence during and after pregnancy. The exercises also strengthen the vaginal muscles.
Go ahead and look after yourself during pregnancy. When baby comes it will find you in good shape, ready for the next phase.
Caring for Your New Born Baby
When your baby arrives put into practice what you learnt in the prenatal classes and what you read in the books and magazines. If you don’t know what to do you need an experienced family member or a friend or a home nurse to teach you and look after baby while you rest.
1. Handling Baby
Always wash your hands when handling your baby to prevent infections. Make sure you support her head when you hold her. Hold her firmly but gently to give her assurance of your presence.
2. Breast Feeding
Breastfeeding is a choice. However, breast milk is the only milk that was created for the baby. It contains a lot of water for hydration and a lot of nutrients that the baby needs to grow. It is easier to digest than baby formula and the milk is readily available at the right temperature for the baby to consume.
The colostrum, the yellow milk that comes out of the breast soon after birth, contains antibodies and immune cells which protect the baby’s immunity. It provides nutrients in high concentration and low-volume form suitable for baby’s immature digestive system. It is also a laxative that encourages the baby to pass its first stool which cleanses the baby’s gut. Breast milk continues to provide antibodies that protect the baby against infections. (Mama Natural). Research has found that babies that are fed only breast milk in the first 6 months have lower incidences of wheezing, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea and fewer visits to health care professionals. (AJPH).
Breast feeding certainly has many advantages for both mom and baby but still it is up to you to decide whether to breastfeed your baby. If you produce a lot of milk your breasts will be very heavy. Wear a maternity bra that will protect your breasts against gravity while giving the baby access to the milk.
2. When Baby Cries
Crying is baby’s only language in the first year. When your baby cries during the night, simply make sure that baby is dry and give her milk. She will go back to sleep after that. If she has a cold then expect her to cry more because of the discomfort. Check her temperature. If there is fever give her pain and fever medicine which will calm her down.
If baby keeps crying after all your efforts to comfort her and to feed her and she cries too often, go to the doctor to rule out any obvious problems like infections. If there is no apparent problem then the problem might be colic.
Colic is difficult to define and its cause is not known. It is suspected to be pain in the digestive system due to muscle spasms or simply due to changes in the gut as baby adjusts to life after birth. Your doctor will recommend medicine for colic. If what is recommended does not calm baby down simply try something different till you find the one that works best for the baby.
4. Diaper Rash
Babies used to have a hard time when they wore cloth diapers which tended to get wet too often. The disposable diapers keep moisture away from the baby but still baby might get diaper rash. Have a tube of diaper rush cream around and apply it in the diaper area following directions.
Babies sleep a lot but when your baby is awake she craves attention and might cry for that reason. She might even cry for attention during the night because she is not sleepy any more. Hold your baby and talk to her in a soothing voice and rock her and sing to her. Your partner should do the same. Avoid sudden movements or noises that might startle her.
6. Feeding Solids
The baby cannot handle solids until around 4 months. Milk is sufficient for her and she will increase her milk intake as it grows. Also the baby gets very hungry very fast because milk is very light food so be prepared to feed her many times per day.
It is a good idea to become a member of Jinga Life so that you can begin to keep a record of your baby’s major milestones. When you start giving her solids, record that on Jinga Life.
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