Support After Birth
Caring for the newest member of your family, your baby, is exciting and challenging. You may have lots of questions as you make important decisions that will affect your baby’s health. The midwife who was with you at your birth can also help you learn more about parenting and can coach you through caring for your new baby during your first few weeks together.
Whether you need guidance as you start breastfeeding or have questions about choosing a pediatric care provider for your baby, talk to your midwife about the type of support they can provide during the start of your baby’s life. Having a professional who knows you and your family with you through the first weeks of new motherhood is one of the many benefits of working with a midwife.
Caring Beyond Birth
The birth of your baby is just the beginning of the journey through parenthood. In the weeks and months that follow, you will be faced with many decisions and challenges. Your midwife can help you care for yourself and your baby and will offer invaluable support through those first early weeks of motherhood and beyond.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your new baby. Besides helping you bond with your baby, you are feeding your baby the most complete form of nutrition. Breast milk has the best mix of fat, sugar, water, and protein that babies need to grow and develop. Breast milk also supports a healthy immune system, which helps keep your baby from getting sick. Even if you need to use a bottle to give your baby breast milk, the milk you make is better for your baby’s overall health and digestion than formula.
Breastfeeding has benefits for your health as well. While you were pregnant, your body was storing fat for nursing. By breastfeeding you may find it easier to lose the weight you gained while pregnant. Breastfeeding also helps your uterus return to its original size more quickly. This reduces the chance of bleeding that may have continued after birth. You will usually have a longer time before your periods return after giving birth if you nurse your baby. Overall, breastfeeding is a win-win situation for both you and your baby.
Your Midwife’s Role during Breastfeeding
For many women, getting started with breastfeeding and then finding a routine that is comfortable for them and their new babies takes time and patience. Both during pregnancy and after birth, your midwife can provide the education, information, and support you need to start breastfeeding if that is your plan. Before your baby is born, your midwife may talk with you about your plans for feeding your baby and can help you prepare for breastfeeding. Your midwife will most likely encourage you and your baby to have skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, which helps make breastfeeding easier. After birth your midwife can continue to assist you with breastfeeding and help you in the early days as you and your baby settle into your own rhythm with nursing. Your midwife can also track how you and your baby are doing with nursing during post-birth check-ups and help you make changes if needed.
As you begin breastfeeding, your midwife is an ideal professional to answer your questions. Your midwife can also point you to resources that will help you and your baby become comfortable with this new relationship, including the following:
Breastfeeding consultants: If you are having trouble with breastfeeding, talk to your midwife about finding a professional lactation consultant—an expert in breastfeeding. A professional breastfeeding consultant will help you with trouble latching on, painful nursing situations, trouble producing enough or too much milk, or for your baby, trouble gaining weight.
Peer support: If you are having trouble breastfeeding, have questions, or just want to talk with other mothers, your midwife may recommend visiting a peer-support group. La Leche League International is a worldwide group dedicated to breastfeeding education and support. A local La Leche League group can help you find others in your community who you can talk to about breastfeeding and being a new mother.
Information sources: There are many excellent information resources available on breastfeeding. Ask your midwife to provide you with information or point you to professional resources, such as those listed on the GotMom.org guide to Breastfeeding Resources.
Sometimes difficulties can occur while breastfeeding. Remember to talk to your midwife during your post-birth visits about any questions or concerns that you have during this period. These issues may include infection or sore nipples. These conditions are painful but are easy to treat. Your midwife can guide you on how to ease and avoid discomfort as you adjust to breastfeeding.
Finding a Health Care Provider for Your Baby
Before your baby is born you will need to find a health care provider for your baby. With a midwife as a partner in your care, you have an excellent resource to help you choose a provider. There are many options available, including pediatric or family nurse practitioners, pediatricians, and family physicians.
The questions that you ask early on will shape the kind of relationship you develop with your baby’s care provider. More importantly, this discussion will help you decide the kind of care your baby will receive. Your midwife can also help you with questions to ask that will help you choose a care provider for your baby.
Your midwife may provide or direct you to other health care services for your baby, including newborn screenings, shots, and circumcision.
There are many resources online that can help you prepare for caring for your newborn. These are a few of our favorites, but be sure to talk to your midwife about additional advice and resources:
Meeting Your Baby: What to Expect
Navigating Common Health Concerns For Babies
Newborn Screening – What You Should Know