Motherhood can significantly affect a woman's daily life, bringing about transformative changes to her body, mind and soul but reconnecting with the body and understanding the transformations that have occurred are crucial during this time of the postpartum period, which lasts up to 6 weeks after delivery and involves various emotional and physical changes. Taking good care of oneself is essential to rebuild strength hence, rest, proper nutrition and seeking help from family and friends are important aspects of self-care during the postpartum period.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Archana Kankal, Director- Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Sahyadri Hospitals in Pune, shared, “Self-care plays a crucial role in maintaining maternal mental health, which directly influences a mother's ability to care for her child. The demands of caring for a new-born and the challenges of new parenthood can bring emotional stress. Hormonal changes during this time can also lead to a range of positive and negative emotions. New-born babies have a different sleep pattern, requiring feeding, changing, and comfort every 2 to 3 hours. This can result in fragmented sleep for several months, making it essential to seek support from family members and friends.”
Talking about some essential self-care practices that mothers can incorporate into their daily routine to enhance their overall well-being, she suggested, “These practices include prioritizing rest, taking short breaks when the baby sleeps, and minimizing distractions from phone calls and social media. Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet, rich in proteins, fibre, fruits, and vegetables, is crucial. Staying hydrated by drinking fluids such as water, milk, juices, and coconut water is also important. The demands of caring for a new born can lead to increased stress and anxiety for mothers, to alleviate these feelings, incorporating specific self-care practices is beneficial. Finding moments for relaxation and personal time, engaging in activities that bring joy, such as reading or pursuing hobbies, can help reduce stress. Seeking support from healthcare professionals, counsellors, or engaging in support groups can provide additional assistance when coping becomes challenging. Remember, seeking support is a sign of strength and can contribute to a positive motherhood experience for all.”
Asserting that maternal well-being is crucial for the physical and mental health of mothers as well as babies during the pregnancy and also during the childbirth, Dr Kiran Coelho, Consultant, Gynecology and Obstetrics at PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre in Khar, recommended a few simple ways of promoting maternal well-being -
- Self-care: Invest a few minutes each day in activities, which brings you joy and relaxation. This may include reading a book, listening to music, taking warm baths or massages or cultivating a new hobby.
- Balanced nutritional diet: A healthy and nutritional diet will help not only during pregnancy but also during childbirth and postpartum. Aim to include fruits, leafy vegetables, Lean protein and healthy fat in your diet. Increase your daily intake of water to stay hydrated.
- Adequate rest and sleep: Prioritise on sleep and try to maintain a sleeping schedule during pregnancy. Ask for help from your partner or support systems whenever necessary during pregnancy and postpartum.
- Regular exercise: Maintain a regular exercise, which will help keep you physically active, relaxed, and also help avoid complications during pregnancy and labour. This can be of any form including yoga, swimming, meditation and breathing exercises.
- Social support: Establish a good support system from your family, partner or other pregnant mothers. Discuss your ailments, concerns and joys with them.
- Communicate with your healthcare provider: Keep an open communication with your healthcare provider. Discuss all your concerns and doubts with them. Make sure to attend all your antenatal and postnatal visits and to discuss any new symptoms or changes during the pregnancy.
Every pregnancy is a unique experience. Make sure to enjoy it and prioritise your well-being. If you are experiencing any persistent mental health concerns like anxiety, sadness or mood swings, kindly seek help from your healthcare provider.