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Postnatal Care

As with labour and birth, postnatal women also benefit from a physical environment that is sensitive to her and her baby's needs.  Bonding and breastfeeding is best supported when women have three specific feelings of :  

  • privacy,

  • safety, and

  • feeling unobserved.

Women in the immediate postpartum period are very vulnerable to haemorrhage.  They need to be kept warm, be holding the baby against their chest and to be reassured that all is well.  One of the biggest risks for a woman haemorrhaging in the immediate postpartum period is having someone being busy around her. (get research link) 

The first 72 hours of a baby's life are crucial for establishing breastfeeding and ensuring an optimal recovery from birth for both the mother and baby.  Standard hospital procedures like weighing the baby and washing can interrupt this process and can be delayed.

Newborn babies are also very capable of making their own way to the breast, especially if they were born with minimal interventions and without anaesthesia.  Research "newborn breast crawl" for information on how we are wired to find the breast and make the best attachment from the first moments of life.

Beyond the immediate period after birth, women also benefit from planning their postpartum period in detail as well, i.e., the first 6 weeks.  Some women plan to have their first 42 days with their baby strictly alone with just their partner and other children.  This allows them to integrate their experience, welcome their new baby in their own time and establish breastfeeding and gain confidence away from the gaze of others.  In many cultures, a woman is nourished by her family for the first 42 days, where she stays at home and has all her meals cooked for her.  There's also the expression "the first week in bed, the second week on the bed and the third week around the bed".

Whichever way you plan it, do your best to minimise visitors in the early weeks.  And if anyone comes, make sure they come to help, not just expecting to hold the baby.  They can admire the baby from your arms while they fold your washing.

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