Post-Labor Care for New Mothers

Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD

March 27, 2023

Dr. Paul MacKoul MD

Often the first weeks after childbirth are a time of excitement and happiness. However, the weeks are also filled with challenges for new mothers. It’s essential to take care of yourself during this time. Follow your doctor’s recommendations. And don’t forget about your postpartum follow-up appointments! Ideally, you’ll visit your doctor every 4 to 6 weeks after delivery.


Breastfeeding provides medical, emotional and physical benefits for both mother and baby. It also decreases the risk of chronic diseases in infants and mothers.

During breastfeeding, moms deliver healthy antibodies that help boost their babies’ immunity against illnesses like colds, ear infections and persistent diarrhoea. These antibodies are lifelong.

It also reduces a new baby’s Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS risk.

Research shows that babies whose moms breastfeed for at least two months are up to 50 percent less likely to experience SIDS than formula-fed babies.

Nursing babies also tend to rouse from sleep more easily, thanks to their robust immune systems.

New mothers need to get plenty of rest after birth, as well as nutritious foods. A healthy diet of lean meats, high-fibre foods and low-fat dairy products is critical for both the mom’s and her newborn’s health.

Baby Blues

Up to 80 percent of new mothers experience mood swings or sadness in the weeks following birth. They’re called the “baby blues,” which typically go away independently as hormone levels stabilize.

A tough delivery, exhausting homecoming and the round-the-clock demands of newborn care can all contribute to a depressed mood. However, some women may also suffer from a more serious condition called postpartum depression.

Both baby blues and postpartum depression can be debilitating, but it’s essential to differentiate between them to ensure you get help. Contact your doctor if you’re experiencing sadness, irritability or extreme worry that doesn’t go away in two weeks.

Physical Changes

After childbirth, you can expect to experience some physical changes. These changes often show that your body has begun to return to normal.

One of the most noticeable physical changes in your vaginal discharge is lochia. This will start bright red and heavy for a day or two, then change to pink or light brown/yellow and continue for a few weeks.

Another physical change you may notice after delivery is contractions, also known as after-pains. These pains occur when your uterus shrinks to its original pre-pregnancy size.

Some women also find that their abdominal muscles become more separated, known as diastasis recti. This usually happens during pregnancy to make room for the growing uterus, but it can persist after birth.

Mental Changes

Many new mothers experience a brief bout of depression called the “baby blues” after childbirth. It usually lasts a few days or weeks and can be treated with simple coping strategies.

But 10 per cent to 20 per cent of new mothers may develop a more severe form of depression that interferes with their ability to care for themselves and their babies. These women are at an increased risk of developing postpartum depression or puerperal psychosis.

Having a baby is a highly stressful time for a woman’s body and brain, and the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy can contribute to mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. Fortunately, most new mothers recover and are happy with their experience. However, some women need support from their partner or family and health care providers. Having the plan to help you deal with parenthood’s emotional and psychological stress can make all the difference to your well-being and happiness.