Common concerns in early motherhood

While undoubtedly you are putting all your concern and energy into your newborn baby, who is looking after you? The early stages of motherhood can be quite tough, particularly if it’s your first time round. Often mothers are so involved with being a mother that they can neglect their own concerns or problems. It is important to address the concerns you may have about yourself, as it may help strengthen you, so you can get back to being a mother. Below are some of the common concerns women have during early childhood.

Return of my period

One of the many perks after giving birth is the delayed return of your period. The hormone prolactin is primarily responsible for breastfeeding and acts as your natural contraceptive therefore the longer your breastfeed the more prolonged your postpartum anovulation. Every woman is unique so too are her hormone levels so it’s difficult to assume when any woman’s period will return. If you are bottle-feeding you can expect your period to return within 3 to 10 weeks and if you are breastfeeding, especially exclusively it can take as long as a year or more to onset again. It’s risky business relying on nature’s contraceptive because ovulation occurs approximately two weeks before menstruation so unless you want your children very close in age, it’s best to undertake contraceptive measures before you start making love again. Your contraceptive methods prior to pregnancy will likely need changing or re-tuning. For example if you were on the pill you’ll need to take the mini pill instead to not affect your breastfeeding hormones. Talk to your healthcare provider who can guide you on the use of contraception methods during early motherhood. When your period recommences you might be irregular and have very heavy flows that can take a few months to resolve. Consult your doctor if you are concerned and wish to seek help to return your menstrual cycle and flow.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation is probably the most common concern of any new mother. Soothing a restless baby to sleep and feeding them throughout the night and early morning can weigh down your eyes, personality and relationship with your partner, family and friends. Don’t let sleep deprivation get the better of you or come between you and your baby. Newborns need more sleep than adults, so the next time your baby gets some shut eye during the day you should too. Sure your clothes, bedding, and dishes need a wash but your sleep is higher on the priority list. Dad, grandma, grandpa, auntie, uncle and many others will be keen to lend you a hand with the duties around the house so that you can enjoy a dream too.

Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

Soon after and lasting for a few days after giving birth, 60-80% of women feel uncertain, sad and irritable- emotions which are least expected after months of awaiting the face-to-face introduction. Baby blues occur because pregnancy hormones are rapidly changing into breastfeeding hormones accompanied by your feelings of exhaustion from the labour and infant care and being overwhelmed with responsibility can all take their toll on your emotions. With plenty of rest and comfort from your family and friends, you will start to feel better in no time. If fighting the blues takes longer than a month, you may have postnatal depression. Postnatal depression (PND) can affect mothers within weeks or months after giving birth and is the same depression experienced by either a man or a woman at any other stage in her life. Unlike baby blues, PND is an illness and must be diagnosed and treated by your doctor. It is a common form of depression affecting 1 in 4 new mothers. The exact causes of PND are unknown however, hormonal changes and/or social and emotional factors have been suggested to play parts. Women who have a family history of depression or were depressed prior to or during pregnancy are more likely to develop PND. If feelings of hopeless, loneliness, unlikableness towards your baby or if any other depressive emotions are constantly troubling you, seeks a doctor’s help for there are many treatment options available.

Struggling to lose the pregnancy weight

Jumping onto the treadmill after giving birth to achieve an immediate post-baby ‘celebrity’ transformation is unrealistic. Many women take a long time to lose their pregnancy weight. The body is once again undergoing enormous changes and you need to give it some time to recover. It generally takes six to eight weeks for your uterus to return back to its normal size and you should wait for this to happen before you start trying to slim down and tone up your belly. It can seem like the weight is a permanent change after months of sensible dieting and exercise. Stress, sleep deprivation, an imbalance in hormone levels, a thyroid condition or even insulin resistance could be the underlying cause of your struggle with weight loss and a consultation with your doctor may help. Keep as part of your everyday routine, some exercise with activities you enjoy. You might also like to recruit a friend or your partner to exercise with you to keep you motivated. When you feel fit enough, gradually increase your physical activity expenditure to burn more calories. Continue complementing your physical activity with a diet that is sensibly portioned sized and nutritious, especially if you are breastfeeding. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats and choose low-fat dairy; these foods are low in calories and high in nutrients. You may have some other changes on your body and wondering if they are permanent. Hips may be wider and skin possibly looser in certain areas but stretch and operational marks, and the dark lining around the stomach will become less noticeable with time. As you can see, there’re some bodily changes that are modifiable and others that come with being a mother. Many women feel comfortable again in their own skin and embrace their new bodies after multiple pregnancies, and you can too in your own time!

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