Postnatal period: what to do after leaving the maternity ward
The return of the mother and infant home from the maternity ward is a special occasion, as is the following one- or two-month period in which the two get to know each other and learn to synchronise infant needs with maternal abilities. Severe difficulties may sometimes occur in this period, especially if the mother’s psychophysical recovery is slower or if the child suffers from intense infant cramps. Typically, the adaptation period is somewhat longer with the first-born child (parents find child-rearing easier and more spontaneous after that). Difficulties coping, the inability to interpret infant signals and tension are normal occurrences, which can be considerably alleviated through the support of family members, nurses and paediatricians. The mother should be at the centre of attention and should receive full support and encouragement. Building self-confidence and self-reliance with regards to successful motherhood is extremely important for establishing a harmonious mother – infant relationship. This type of relationship, known as the secure type of attachment, forms the basis of mental health from childhood to adulthood. This improves the success and duration of breastfeeding which is often interrupted due to high levels of fear and insecurity.
After returning home, the mother and child need time and peace so that all these processes can commence and a stable daily routine (feeding, care, sleeping, communication) can be established. Early visits from family and friends may present a source of stress, in which case they should be postponed. Generally speaking, make sure the visitors are not sick; if they have symptoms of a mild cold or digestion problems, ask them not to come. Be especially careful with young preschool visitors, especially those attending nursery or kindergarten. They are often carriers of certain bacteria located in their upper respiratory tract (e.g. they have long-lasting nasal discharge) and may easily transmit them onto the newborn with their hands. Adults should wash their hands thoroughly before each contact with the infant. If the family also includes older children who attend school or children’s groups, they should temporarily be excluded to prevent the possibility of transmitting causative agents of various diseases (bacteria and viruses) which can cause severe illnesses in the newborn infant.
There are no special limitations when it comes to being outdoors, as long as you are mindful of the weather (avoid extreme bad weather). Furthermore, avoid areas with closed air-conditioning systems (shopping malls) because the air may contain causal agents which can cause illnesses in persons with lower immunity, such as newborns and infants.
During breastfeeding, the mother can consume all types of food. There is no reason to recommend avoiding fresh fruit and vegetables (to prevent infant cramps). Food should be natural: avoid industrial, processed foods and opt instead for “healthy farm” food. Choose organic food whenever possible. Namely, certain harmful elements the mother consumes with food are not only excreted into her breast milk, but are also concentrated 20-30 times! During breastfeeding, the mother should take multivitamin, mineral and omega-3 fatty acid supplements. In the event of intense infant cramps, mothers should not change their diet (i.e. exclude certain types of food from their diet such as cow milk proteins). The breastfeeding woman’s diet is extremely important, so in case of any problems, consult your nurse or paediatrician.
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