Taking Care of Yourself
Having a baby is a special time in your life. It is a time of changes – both physical and emotional. During your pregnancy, your body changes, your hormones are changing, and you have to come to terms with the joys and the care of the baby growing inside you. After the birth you will have to deal with your own changes and take care of your baby’s needs too. You will be up during the night to feed your baby so rest whenever possible.
Remember there are two people who need to be taken care of – your baby and you. Each day ask yourself, have I:
- eaten at least three meals today? Had healthy snacks if still hungry?
- done some physical activity, such as walking with my baby in a stroller?
- taken a short break? Done something nice for myself? When your baby is asleep or your partner can take over, take a nap, read a book, take a bath, or sit in the garden.
- talked with friends or family about my feelings?
- met with a support group of people who understand my feelings? Your public health nurse can tell you about postpartum support groups.
- shared the responsibilities of taking care of our baby with my partner? Make a plan with your partner so you can share the care of your baby.
The Baby Blues
In the first few days after birth, up to 80% of mothers experience tearfulness and feelings of distress. This is commonly called the baby blues. You may feel restless, irritable, tearful, tired, discouraged, sad, helpless, or have mood swings. You may suddenly feel happy, full of energy or want to talk a lot. These mood changes can be due to many things, such as the quick drop of your hormone levels after birth or the pain and tiredness from your labour and birth. They can also be the result of looking after your baby for 24 hours a day and not getting enough sleep. Most of the time these baby blues do not last very long. They will go away on their own in one or two weeks.
Some women will go on to have what is called postpartum depression. For more information about postpartum depression, click here.
Are you sad, exhausted, moody or crying a lot?
As many as one in five women in British Columbia will experience a major depression during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth. Postpartum depression can happen to women of all ages, cultures and levels of education. For more information about postpartum depression, click here.
Talk to your health care provider or public health nurse if:
- the baby blues do not go away within two weeks
- you feel unable to cope
- you are concerned about taking care of or harming yourself or your baby
You can also call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, to speak confidentially with a registered nurse. There is someone there to answer your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also visit the Pacific Post Partum Society’s website here (www.postpartum.org) for helpful information and advice.
How soon after the baby is born can we have sex?
You may have sex again when you feel ready, usually when vaginal bleeding has decreased and any tears or stitches have healed. It is normal for women to need time to “get in the mood.” Feeling well rested and lots of foreplay will help. Vaginal dryness can make intercourse uncomfortable, but using a sterile, water‑soluble lubricant in the vagina and/or on the penis can help. Before you start having sex again, ensure you have effective birth control. For more information on birth control, click here.
Tips for Having Sex
- Uncomfortable? Try positions you do not normally use, and use pillows to help support where needed.
- Too tired? Try the morning, afternoon, or a time when you are more rested.
- Breasts leaking? Try wearing a padded nursing bra.
Living with Abuse
Intimate partner violence is a pattern of physical, sexual, or emotional violence. It uses power and control. You are not the only one at risk if your partner abuses you. Your baby is also at risk. Seek help and safety. When violence happens, get help. In case of emergency, call 9‑1‑1 or the operator and ask for the police.
Talk to your health care provider about your situation. She or he will put you in touch with the right resources. For a list of resources, click here.
VictimLINK is a province‑wide telephone help line for victims of family and sexual violence and all other crimes. VictimLINK operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides service in 130 languages. It will help you find information on the victim services closest to you. Phone toll‑free: 1‑800‑563‑0808 For deaf and hearing‑impaired assistance (TTY): 604‑875‑0885.