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Caring for Yourself After Birth at UPMC in South Central Pa.

It is no exaggeration that having a baby changes your life forever. Parenthood will bring many happy moments, but you will also experience times of stress, worry or anxiety. Taking good care of yourself will help you be a healthier, happier parent.

To help you take the best possible care of yourself, you should be prepared for a number of major life changes after your baby is born, including:

  • Sleepless nights. At first, your baby will need to eat every two to three hours throughout the day and night, which can be particularly difficult if you are breastfeeding. It is important that you rest when your baby rests throughout the day. Prioritize getting the rest you need when your baby is sleeping chores, exercise and other activities can wait.
  • Decreased freedom. Because your baby will require constant care, it will not be easy to be spontaneous. Weekend getaways and last-minute shopping trips will become more difficult. When you feel comfortable leaving your baby for a few hours, you should arrange for babysitting so you can get out and do something enjoyable, such as exercise, have lunch with a friend or go shopping.
  • Decreased social life. Having a baby will put a damper on your social life and going out with friends. When you feel comfortable leaving your baby, you should arrange for occasional date nights with your partner or time with friends. Even taking time to chat with a friend on the phone can be a great comfort as you adjust to the demands of parenthood.
  • Decreased sex drive. Lack of sleep and sheer exhaustion can take a toll on your sex life. Although you will be very busy caring for your baby, be sure to take the time to communicate with your spouse. Although you will not be cleared by your physician for sexual activity until 6-8 weeks after birth, set aside special time to spend with your partner.

Accept Offers of Help

Because you need all the rest you can get during your baby’s first weeks of life, it is also a good idea to accept offers of help from friends, neighbors and relatives. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. If you can afford it, you might even consider temporarily hiring someone to help you with some household chores and duties.

You may be able to get assistance with a number of household tasks after your baby is born, including:

  • Caring for older children
  • Preparing meals
  • Cleaning
  • Shopping
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Laundry

After you return home from the hospital, you should also eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water and engage in light exercise (after a few weeks, with your physician’s approval).

Be sure to follow all of your physician’s recommendations regarding your physical and emotional care after delivery.

Need more information?

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It is normal to experience the “baby blues” after giving birth. Learn more about postpartum depression or call your doctor for more information.

Learn more about our new mom support groups.

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