3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Your Emotions After The Birth

Your Emotions After The Birth

In the first few days, you will probably experience a range of emotions, including relief, exhaustion, fear, anxiety and elation. Some women feel guilty because they assumed that they would fall head over heels in love with their new baby, but now find that it is something that grows gradually. Others are exhausted after giving birth, uncomfortable because of stitches and need time to get to know their baby.

Some women may feel regrets for not giving birth in the way that they had planned, disappointment that they are unable to breast-feed, or neglect because everyone else's attention is firmly focused on the newly arrived baby. Often women feel that everything should get 'back to normal' as quickly as possible - expecting to fit into pre-pregnancy clothes, sleep through the night and have a tidy house. This is where many mothers feel disappointed - as if they have failed when this tiny baby dominates their lives day and night!

So many women talk about getting into 'a routine' but, in practice, there is no routine in the early days. Forget about the housework. Pick up your baby, cuddle him when he wants to be cuddled and feed him when he wants to be fed.

Baby blues

Whether or not you decide to breast-feed, your milk will still 'come in' at about the third day. This coincides with a rush of hormones that can give you the 'baby blues'. It is completely normal to feel weepy, and your midwife will reassure you that, in the majority of cases, this passes in a short while. It can be useful to talk through the delivery with your midwife so that you can be sure of understanding everything that happened during the birth. However, nothing will prepare you for the changes in these first few days, not only in terms of your body but also the huge, and sometimes overwhelming, feeling of responsibility towards your baby.

Postnatal depression

The 'baby blues' may continue, or they may not appear until a few weeks after the birth, which may mean you have postnatal depression. This affects approximately 12 per cent of women in different ways, for example, feelings of detachment, anxiety, inability to cope, weepiness and unhappiness. Some women regard this as a natural reaction to a life-changing event. For others there is a particular reason, for example,their baby being on a special-care unit, a traumatic labour or insufficient support after the birth. Whatever the reason, you should tell you midwife, health visitor or doctor so that you can get help.

Often you can find support from groups of women who have had experience of postnatal depression. Nowadays, there is great social pressure for your life to return to how it was before you baby is born -your body, your home, routines and relationships - but the reality is that things have changed. Feeling low does not mean that you have failed as a mother - just that you need some support and help to get you through it.

The birth of a baby can have a great effect on your relationship with your partner and it is very easy to become competitive with your partner as to which of you is the most tired. Just acknowledge that you are both tired and both need to support each other. The chances are that you will both have times when you need some 'space' and 'time out' - even if it is just the luxury of an uninterrupted bath, half an hour watching television or a nap during the afternoon.

After my baby was born I found life exhausting. How can I avoid it this time round without upsetting people?
It is only natural to want to show off your baby to the world, but some visitors can be hard work. You need to catch up on your sleep during the day, so it is a good idea to put a note on your door saying 'Mother and baby sleeping' or leave a message on your answering machine to say that 'Much as I would love to see people, the best time is between...' Most people would hate to intrude but, at the same time, they are genuinely excited about seeing your new baby. The most popular visitors are the ones that bring a cooked meal or take away a bag of ironing. Do not be shy of accepting help from friends and family if they offer. It will not onlv make them feel good but will also make a real difference, allowing you to spend time with your new baby and not worrv about the other things.