Becoming a new parent may be one of the most rewarding but stressful things in the world. As a new parent, you want to ensure both you and your baby are as safe and healthy as possible, so knowledge really is power.
Those who have just given birth face some particular challenges. After giving birth to your newborn, you have to take care of your own health and happiness while also caring for a newborn and prioritizing self-care during the fourth trimester and pospartum.
In this guide, we go over some common issues new mothers face after postpartum, including mental and physical issues, and what you can do if you come up against these problems, and identifying sources of support, from family, friends, or a professional.
The Difference Between A Clogged Milk Duct And Mastitis
Breastfeeding during postpartum can be a learning curve especially when it comes to lactation. Some babies latch quickly and love to eat, while other babies have a harder time. Understanding the unique needs of your baby and seeking support from an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) can make all the difference in your breastfeeding journey.
It’s also important to know how breastfeeding can impact your own health. Clogged milk ducts and mastitis are two common conditions that breastfeeding parents encounter and have some overlapping symptoms, but mastitis is much more severe.
A clogged milk duct happens when a duct doesn’t drain properly. Conversely, mastitis is usually caused by an obstruction or infection in the breast and leads to inflammation.
While mastitis is more serious, a clogged duct can lead to mastitis. So, it’s important to act quickly if you notice any clogged duct or mastitis symptoms. One in ten lactating women experience mastitis, symptoms include swelling, breast tenderness, fever, and flu like symptoms. If you have never breastfed before or are experiencing clogged milk ducts or mastitis, working with a lactation consultant is a good idea, as they can educate you even more about your health and breastfeeding and create a personalized lactation plan with helpful tips and tricks just for you. Working with a professional lactation consultant will further benefit you in helping to avoid and treat such illnesses.
Be on the lookout for signs such as:
- Nipple pain
- Flu-like symptoms, including chills and fever
If you notice these symptoms, contact a lactation support specialist or a medical professional. Lactation care can play a critical role in preventing and treating these conditions, while providing support for successful breastfeeding.
Don’t Co-Sleep With Your Baby
Co-sleeping might be one of the most controversial topics when it comes to parenting, but for the health and safety of your child, it’s vital that you don’t co-sleep. It’s easy to be complacent, especially if you’re feeding a baby in the middle of the night or trying to quiet a fussy newborn.
However, if you share a bed with them, your baby is at increased risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation. Instead, the best way to have your baby sleep each night is to:
- Place them in a crib in your room.
- Ensure they are flat on their back.
- Keep blankets, pillows, and toys out of the crib.
This is the safest way for your baby to sleep during the first six months.
Understand The Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression
Having a baby is a huge life change. Taking care of a baby is exhausting and often all-consuming, especially in the first couple of months or in other words, during the fourth trimester.
It’s essential to pay attention to your own mental health needs as a new parent, and this is even more critical if you’re the birthing parent. Pospartum depression impacts about 10-20% of childbearing women.
While exhausting and varying emotions are common, recognize signs of severe depression. Postpartum depression is estimated to impact up to 20% of mothers, so you’re not alone.
It’s best to seek help from healthcare professionals and your support system. Additionally, locating support groups is also a great way to seek support. It can be helpful to find other new parents to talk to who are having similar experiences.
Take It Easy On Yourself
Caring for a child is not for the faint of heart. While there are many things to learn, one of the most important things you can do is show yourself some compassion and care.
The most important thing is to keep you and your baby healthy and happy. You don’t have to be perfect.