Being a new mom is an experience unlike any other: bewildering and amazing, disorienting and full of new joys. A woman spends most of her pregnancy thinking about how her nutrition affects her fetus, how her lifestyle affects her pregnancy. The pregnant body is nearly always at the center of every decision and communication. Women are encouraged to practice self-care and to advocate for their desired experiences in the delivery room.
During a normal, healthy pregnancy, a woman’s body is physiologically designed to put her baby’s nutritional needs first, often at the expense of her own. But “Mom” and “Baby” are words that go hand-in-hand, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
"After delivery, many women have described “a palpable shift” that sees their babies take center stage. Baby-friendly hospitals have been accused of not always being mom-friendly. Very quickly, a new mom can start to feel like an afterthought. "
A mom’s well-being is paramount to the well-being of her baby.
The first 3 months of a baby’s life, often called the fourth trimester, can feel like one of life’s toughest challenges. New moms, who are struggling to figure out their infants’ feeding and sleeping needs, often put their own needs on the back-burner. What postpartum women need more of, which too few get, is more support for feeding, exercise, mental health, and their own nutrition.
More medical professionals are speaking up about the importance of communicating effectively with new mothers about taking care own physical and mental health.
An article in the Nursing for Women’s Health journal encouraged doctors interacting with new moms to offer more emotional support, review the research on the link between breastfeeding challenges and postpartum depression, and to make more referrals to lactation consultants.
Still, more awareness is needed about the realities of postpartum life. A lot of distress could be avoided if first-time expectant parents were educated on topics like safe formula feeding practices, loss of bladder control, diastasis recti, postpartum depletion… so moms are better prepared even if they never encounter issues.