Congrats, you’re a mom! Now what? Here’s how to survive your very first day as a mother. By Lisa Witepski
Becoming a mother is one of the most thrilling, scary, exciting, exhausting things that can happen – and that’s during the first few weeks. That very first day of being a mom – well, that’s something else entirely. Prepare to have no clue what’s going on, partly because you’re love struck and partly because you’ve never done this before.
What the midwife says
Prepare for your big day well in advance. According to Sister Connie Ngobeni, lead midwife at The Birthing Team, women who exercise frequently throughout pregnancy are more likely to have a shorter labour and less pain. If you’re fit and healthy, your recovery will be quicker, too.
Your first mom moment is all the more magical if you have skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
Your little one should be placed directly on your chest so you can wallow in the magic of “kangaroo care”, a comforting, bonding time with your new child. Sr Connie advises that, apart from helping you fathom that you really are a mom with a real, live baby, this also helps maintain baby’s temperature and regulate breathing, and assists with breastfeeding.
Heavy vaginal bleeding is a reality after birth – expect to feel like you’re experiencing a very heavy period. It’s no biggie, but you’ll feel more comfortable if you have maternity sanitary pads close to hand.
Sr Connie says it’s a good idea to create your own little pantry. Giving birth – whether naturally or via C-section – can leave you feeling like you’ve just run a marathon, plus there are all those calories you’ll soon be burning through breastfeeding. Instead of relying on the hospital’s lacklustre culinary fare, make sure you have your favourite snacks readily available – think fresh fruit and veg, dairy and, if you have someone who can bring you a home-cooked meal, legumes, eggs and lean meat.
Don’t forget to take care of your breasts, says Sr Connie. It can be tough on your nipples in the beginning, so use a salve approved by your midwife or doctor, and place a cool washcloth on them after the feed.
Above all, rest as much as you can while you’re surrounded by hospital staff who can help. Your baby is going to need you, a lot, in the days to come, so use your first day as a mom to give yourself a little downtime.
What moms say
“I survived my first day by putting my baby on my chest, getting help from friends and family, and having lots of tea and biscuits.” – Melissa
“I asked the nurses absolutely everything – even how I’d know when it was time for a nappy change. I figured I would only be in hospital, with people who knew everything, for a few days, and after that I’d have to figure it all out by myself – so I milked it!” – Lisa
“I had an emergency C-section, so it wasn’t the norm. I had the morphine button in one hand and nurses expressing my milk while my baby lay in High Care in another part of the building.” – Mara
“I asked friends to wait until I came home to visit. I just wanted time to get my head around everything, and to get to know my little person.” – Samantha
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.