For most new mums the birth of a baby is a joyous and exhilarating experience, and many mums take to their lives as parents like ducks to water. But whether this is your first or fifth child, the arrival of a new baby can bring many changes, challenges and new experiences, especially for mum. So we've drawn together information and advice for the first few weeks of motherhood, to help you through common problems so you can get on with enjoying your new baby.
If you're reading this at all then you've probably already got through the first 48 hours after birth one way or another, and will have started getting to grips with breastfeeding and bonding with your baby. But you may still be feeling a bit shell-shocked and overwhelmed not to mention exhausted: Not only have you just been through one of the most physically gruelling experiences life has to offer, but you've now got a demanding little baby who needs care around the clock. So while you know you should be on cloud nine with your new baby, and many mums are most of the time, you may also feel a little down a few days after the birth as your body's hormone levels - and the rest of your body's functions - adjust to your new situation. This is very common and known as the baby blues, and you can take some comfort from the fact that they usually clear up within a few days. Remember that how you handle visitors in the days after birth can make a big difference to your state of mind and to whether you feel able to cope.
Most new mums suffer post-natal aches and pains for some weeks, and backache is a very common problem - particularly given that you'll now be carrying your baby around every day. If you're recovering from a caesarian section then you'll have a particular set of challenges to face. But whatever your birth experience, most mums will have physically recovered from the birth itself six weeks later, which is why your doctor will have scheduled you an appointment for a six-week check, to make sure that everything is going well.
All mums will find their lives as new parents difficult some of the time, and it's important to remember that you can't always put your own needs at the bottom of the pile if you want to support your family effectively. 'Me time' is important to new mums (and not so new ones!) , particularly when you're also juggling the needs of baby and your older children.
For many new parents money worries are an issue. If you are struggling financially - or concerned that it's a likelihood - then a few money-saving tips for new parents should help.
Of course the cornerstone of keeping the family unit working well through the changes a new baby brings is your relationship with your partner. Good communication between yourself and your partner is the most important aspect of your relationship, and you might find that now you seem to have less time this is something at which you have to work a little harder. If you're having problems communicating then you could try making a very conscious effort to listen actively to one another. In the first few weeks after birth, and maybe considerably longer, you'll be left without one of your usual means of communication: Sex. Maintaining intimacy, though, is important to any relationship, so it's worth thinking about how you can keep the closeness when you can't have sex. And when you do get around to starting thinking about sex again, have a read up on what's safe, comfortable and normal for sex after baby.
For some mums the physical and emotional upheaval involved in having a baby can lead to the much more serious, but treatable, post natal depression (PND). If you're feeling down and unable to cope for more than a week then read up on the signs and symptoms of PND, as it's important that those with the depression recognise it and seek treatment so that you can recover more quickly.
More than anything, try as far as possible to shut out other people's expectations and focus on what you and your partner want for your family. These days with your small baby will have gone by before you know it, so take time to enjoy them!
New mums' physical recovery
New mum and family life
New mums' stresses and strains
New mum and baby
There's plenty more information about your new baby in our baby section.
ThinkBaby mums know just what it's like in the first few weeks after birth, so why not get in touch with them on the newborn and mums forums to share experiences, advice and a bit of reassurance?
Some useful discussions