I interview 5 experts about their advice during the first 2 weeks after giving birth
As a newborn baby photographer in Twickenham, South West London, I meet so many new parents. During the photo shoot sessions, I love chatting with them about how their life is different since their new baby has come along. My newborn photography sessions take place within 7-14 days after the baby is born so things are very fresh for parents. I share my advice from what I learned after giving birth to my daughter but it got me thinking about getting advice from experts about what’s essential to know during the first couple of weeks after giving birth.
I interviewed 5 experts about the advice they give in the first few weeks after giving birth. I hosted a Facebook live about it and in this article I summarise the advice they give. If you’re pregnant for the first time, I hope you find this useful!
Advice from a birth Doula Rosie Gray – the Richmond Doula
Here’s the advice Rosie gave when I interviewed her. You can hear the podcast on the right.
1. You instinctively know how to look after your baby – It’s often the case that people don’t trust that they can do it. There’s no right or wrong way to care for a newborn. The way you want to take care of your baby is the right way.
2. Have contact numbers to hand to help with breast feeding – A lot of pre-natal classes will have a breast feeding class but it’s hard to taken on board the mechanics of breastfeeding until you have your baby. So before you give birth, have the details to hand of the people you can call for help. For example, this could include: local lactation consultants, free breast feeding drop-ins and hospital specialists. It’s better to have this on hand already so you don’t have to go hunting for them. Also, you don’t have to justify yourself if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you!
3. For the first few days, I recommend only letting people around if they are going to be helpful – For the first few days and weeks take it easy and relax. You don’t have to go out for the first few days if you don’t want to. Get people to bring you meals instead – even if it’s meals in bed. Now is not the time to people-please. Be direct with what you want. It gives people a boost if they are able to help out so tell them what you want.
4. Acknowledge that you can’t always be in control – Before your child came along you were in control of every part of your life. And now this little person comes along that we can’t control. All you can control is yourself – so you have to take care of yourself. That means going upstairs and having a sleep when the baby sleeps. That may sound difficult but you have to allow time to yourself.
More about Rosie… she is a KG Hypnobirthing teacher, birth and postnatal doula based in the Richmond and Twickenham area. She’s also a baby massage and baby yoga instructor. https://therichmonddoula.co.uk
Listen to the podcast with me and Rosie
Advice after birth from a Fitness expert – Kate Smart
Here’s the advice that Kate gave when I interviewed her. You can hear the podcast on the right.
1. Don’t expect to workout for the first 6 weeks after birth. During those first few weeks, it’s so important to let yourself have time to heal. Between 6-8 weeks you’ll have your GP appointment and they’ll be able to give you the OK to start exercising.
2. If you are doing any movement that requires you to exert yourself do it while you EXHALE. This may be just getting yourself up from the sofa or as simple as sneezing. As you exhale a bit of tension goes into your pelvic floor and protects it. So if you’re going to do anything that involves effort, try EXHALING at the same time.
3. Your pelvic core really goes through so many changes during pregnancy and it continues to change post-natal. Doing pelvic floor exercises before and after birth is a good idea.
4. If you had a c-section, you can put a rolled up towel across from the scar for when you exert pressure. This provides some extra support.
More about Kate… she has been providing fitness training for hundreds of women at all stages of motherhood since 2005 and is passionate about helping women regain and restore their fitness both inside and out. https://katesmartfitness.com
Listen to the podcast when I interview Kate
Advice after birth from baby wearing expert – Madeleine from Sheen Slings
Here’s the advice that Madeleine gave when I interviewed her. You can hear the podcast on the right.
1. The great thing about a sling is that you can do activities where you need both hands. It also makes babies feel calmer because they are next to you. It may also help you get out of the house because babies can sometimes be calmer in a sling.
2. At what age can you put them in a sling? From the moment you feel ready. You can carry them as soon as you want.
3. In the early days you should wear them high and tight. By being high, they are easier to monitor and when they are tight, you are putting the least amount of pressure on your body which means it puts less stress on your pelvic floor. Even small tweaks can make a difference so seek help if it doesn’t feel right.
4. There are really only 2 safety rules with newborns. First, you want to be hands free so you need to make sure the sling is tight enough so you can let go. Second, make sure you can see the baby’s face and that there is airflow around the baby. There are more checks if you’re not feeling confident but these are the 2 main things. High and tight and comfortable.
More about Madeleine… she is a Slingababy and Trageschule trained Babywearing Consultant and BABI member (British Association of Babywearing Instructors) with over 5 years experience teaching parents how to use slings. https://sheenslings.com
Listen to the podcast when I interview Madeleine
Advice after birth from baby massage expert Lauren – Dream big baby massage
Here’s the advice that Lauren gave when I interviewed her. You can hear the podcast on the right.
1. Massage helps parents bond with their baby. It can reduce stress hormones, help with skin conditions, increase cognitive development and even help with teething. It’s also great for the mental health of the mother and father. It helps mums and dads increase their positive interactions with their baby and has shown to improve symptoms of post-natal depression.
2. The body areas you massage on can help with different things. For the digestive system you should always massage clockwise on their stomach. To help with sleeping it’s the feet and back. For teething there are various strokes on the feet and face, and so much more.
3. Timing is important. Some people want to immediately include massage in sleep routine but at first try to do it when baby is awake and not hungry until they get used to it, then you can slowly introduce it after a bath in the evening – or whenever works for you and your baby!
4. Avoid using oils before 6 weeks because of skin sensitivity. When you do use oils – use an edible cold-press oil like coconut or grape-seed. You may have been told to use sunflower or olive oil but that’s old guidance. Don’t use aromatherapy oil and try to avoid shop-bought baby oils as they tend to contain by-products of petrol which is not ideal for sensitive skin.
More about Lauren… she is a baby massage instructor. Since seeing the effects of baby massage on her own son, herself, and her husband she have realised just how important it is for a young baby and a new parent’s development. https://dreambigbabymassag.wixsite.com
Listen to the podcast when I interview Lauren
Advice after birth from nutrition coach Kathleen Farren
Here’s the advice that Kathleen gave when I interviewed her. You can watch her on the right.
1. The first thing you’ll notice is the lack of sleep and so your energy levels are going to be quite low during the day. One thing that helps is to balance your blood sugar and the best way to do that is to try to have regular meals and snacks. This may seem hard to do.
2. Try to get all your friends and family to bring delicious meals/ snacks rather than sweets/cakes. What are healthy snacks? Think of colourful foods and eating the rainbow. More important than minerals and vitamins for blood sugar levels is to make sure you have protein at every meal and snacks. This will help with cravings and keep energy levels up and it helps push away the blues when blood sugar crashes. Start the day with good protein-based breakfast – salmon, cheese, eggs
3. Throughout the day, make sure you have snacks readily available because you may not be getting meals the way you used to. So have nuts to hand and a big bowl of fruit available.
4. Keep hydrated – You may want to rely on coffees but water or herbal teas are better at keeping you hydrated.
More about Kathleen… she believes food is one of the greatest pleasures in life and it is also a great healer. She’s got numerous diplomas and memberships under her belt and has helped hundreds of clients using her programme to successfully transform their weight, health and vitality. https://www.kfnutritioncoaching.com
Watch Kathleen’s video
From a newborn baby photo shoot perspective, the main advice I would give is to book the session before you give birth
Those beautiful sleepy poses are usually only possible in the week to two weeks after birth so it’s best not to wait until the baby is born.
If you want to discuss any of these topics further, be sure to get in touch with the ladies directly.
If you’ve given birth already, what’s the biggest tip you’d give to mums that are pregnant with their first child? We’d love to hear your comments below.