Maternal Health: Looking After Mum

Mums’ well-being is the most important thing to help her to care for her new baby and family. Millennium mums are thought to be the most informed but are naturally apprehensive, uncertain in what mother nature has given in our mothering tool kit to deal with the day to day practicalities.

A mother working on a computer watching her baby

For breastfeeding to get a great start – mum needs lots of support and encouragement. She will be uncertain, not sure how to position baby, what is a good latch, how much milk is enough. For this, a warm chain of support starts with her partner, midwife and immediate family. Here are some top tips and things to bear in mind when looking after Mum after birth and during those early weeks...

  • Understand how important it is to mum that she achieves breastfeeding. Encourage her to take one day at a time, it won’t magically happen but both mum and baby will work together to breastfeed successfully.
  • Try not to recommend that mum has a rest and give a bottle/formula during those first few weeks. Mum has to breastfeed to maintain her milk supply and missing a breastfeed or giving a bottle of formula in the early days may lead to baby getting nipple teat confusion, a drop-in mum’s milk supply and be detrimental for both baby and mum’s breastfeeding journey. Of course, in some circumstances this may be advised by health professionals.
  • Talk before baby is born about how you can support mum with breastfeeding. For example, help with other baby tasks such as bathing, winding, taking little one out for a walk in the park whilst mum has 20-30mins break etc.
  • Ensure mum has a good, well-balanced and nutritious diet. Breastfeeding is demanding, it takes 26% of a mums daily nutritious requirement, whilst the brain comes next at 23% so it is incredibly important for mums to eat well:
    • Have some easy prepared snacks at hand for when mum may be home on her own with baby.
    • Prepare a batch of meals that you can double up and freeze in advance
    • Ideally twice a week get mum to eat a portion of food high in omega 3 & 6 to help with her mental wellbeing such as oily fish, spinach, dairy and eggs.
  • Give lots of words of support and encouragement, those first few weeks are tough and a warm chain of support goes a long way.
  • As parents, you are both adjusting and will experience a huge change in your sleep patterns. Mum needs to have regular night feeds to support milk production, therefore she needs to rest and recuperate to support her body healing after birth during the day.
  • Have the National Breastfeeding Helpline phone number on the fridge. This is a fantastic service for any niggling questions or for words of support during those tough days. Remember, you can also visit our Breastfeeding Café every Tuesday on the Medela UK Facebook page.
  • If mum seems low, this could be due to several factors:
    • Mum could be simply exhausted. Recovering from birth and surgery is tiring in itself.
    • Mum may be tearful around day 3 as the hormones adjust – this is normal
    • If mum continues to feel low, mention it to the midwife/health visitor so they can keep an eye out. Postnatal depression can come from nowhere and early support is helpful so do bear this in the back of your mind.
  • When mum and baby are ready to go out and about, keep her company for those first few times she needs to nurse in public.
  • Find a café that is Breastfeeding Friendly and supportive to nursing mums. Look out for our Breastfeeding Friendly Window Stickers.