After your baby is born, you may feel excited and tired. You may have many new feelings.
It can be normal to feel sad or cry easily for one or two weeks after your baby is born. This is called the baby blues. The baby blues happen for many reasons:
- Changing hormones.
- Lack of sleep.
- Not feeling sure how to care for your baby.
- Worry about being a parent.
- Trying to do everything at once.
- Your changing relationship with your partner.
Here are some tips to help you cope with the baby blues:
- Before leaving the hospital, ask a lot of questions . Write things down or get a handout if you need to. Memory doesn’t work as well when you are hormonal or tired.
- Try to get as much sleep as you can when you get home. Sleep when your baby sleeps.
- Ask your partner, family, and friends to help with cooking, cleaning, and doing errands.
- Don’t try to do too much. Keep visits short.
- Be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to adjust. Know you are the best parent for your baby - your baby chose you.
For some people the baby blues don’t go away. Other people begin to have these feelings a few weeks or even months after the baby was born. If these feelings last for 2 weeks or longer, you may have postpartum depression or anxiety disorder. You need to contact your midwife, doctor, or nurse practitioner right away.
You may be feeling:
- As if you are not yourself any more.
- Like you have no interest in things you used to enjoy.
- Like you have no interest in your baby and may even feel scared to be alone with your baby.
- Like you can’t relax or sleep.
- Like eating all the time or not wanting to eat.
- Like your heart is beating too fast.
- Like you have a lump in your throat.
- Sad, tearful, alone, worried, or nervous.
- Overwhelmed, ashamed, guilty, upset, or angry.
- Upset when you are with other people, or scared when you are alone.
- Tired all the time and wanting to sleep.
- Unable to sleep, even though you are very tired and your baby is sleeping.
- Sweaty, numb, or tingling.
Some people have strange thoughts or pictures in their mind. These thoughts and pictures keep coming back and are usually negative. They may scare you and you may feel scared to talk about them. This happens to many mothers. Talk to your health care provider about your thoughts and pictures. Once you have talked about them, you may find they don’t come back as often and after a time they may go away. Mindfulness exercises can be extremely helpful for helping with this.
If you feel like hurting yourself or your baby
Rarely, some people may feel like hurting themselves or their baby. If you have these feelings, call 911 or your local emergency number.
For information and support
Online Mental Health Help from Ontario Telemedicine Network and Ontario Ministry of Health /Peer Support
Mental Health Helpline
1-866-531-2600 (24 hours a day 7 days a week)
1-866-797-0000 TTY: 1-866-797-0007
(24 hours a day 7 days a week)
Best Start Resources on Maternal Mental Health
Mood Disorder Society of Canada
Your Local Public Health Department
When to See a Health Care Provider
See a health care provider right away if:
- There is a bad smell or large blood clots coming from your birth canal (vagina).
- The amount of blood coming from your birth canal (vagina) is suddenly heavier than usual.
- Blood is still coming from your birth canal (vagina) after 6 weeks.
- Your stitches open.
- You think you have postpartum depression or anxiety disorder (see page 99).
- You are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
- You have a fever (greater than 37.5°C).
- You think something is not right.
Birth of a Child - A Haudenosaunee Teaching
What happens when a child is born? We need to be patient teachers and treat babies as able-free-thinking-capable individuals—just like you reading this now. Afford them that respect because we say the place where they come from they speak Kanienkehá. I’ve even heard it said, that in some houses they call them Sotha (Grandfather/Grandmother) because of the knowledge they carry as they are tied to the Sky World when they arrive here. So, when they are born this is the most Powerful and Vulnerable time. The first few minutes of birth set the stage for their entire life and our people understand this. So, that is why we say, “They are a Gift from the Creator” and that they have arrived. Words that are passed are said to make the child feel welcome that they have chosen to come here.
Caring for Your Baby
There is a lot to learn with a new baby. This book gives you information that you may need in the first few days after your baby is born. You can learn more by talking with other parents and family members that you trust, or talking with public health or your community health nurse.
For information and support:
About Kids Health
Information about child health.
Best Start Resource Centre
Online resources about prenatal and child health.
Parenting resources, including a directory of family resource programs across Canada.
www.familiescanada.ca or (613)237-7667
Caring for Kids
Child health information.
Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) (Canadian Government)
Programs to address health and development of young children (Aboriginal Head Start, Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program, Nobody’s Perfect Classes)
Growing Healthy Canadians
Information on how to promote the well-being of children.
Information about infant care.
EarlyON Child and Family Centers
Parenting information and parenting programs.
Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres
Your Local Public Health Department
Public health nurses provide information and support.
When to Get Help for Your Baby
If your baby has any of the following signs, or you feel something is not right, call your health care provider right away. Do not wait.
- Your baby is hard to wake or seems very weak.
- Your baby is breathing very quickly or has trouble breathing.
- Your baby’s lips or ear lobes are blue or grey.
- Your baby is losing weight, or not gaining weight.
- Your baby has a fever (has a temperature above 37.5° C or above 99.5F).
- Your baby has sunken eyes, or the soft spot on the top of the head is sunken.
- Your baby has a dry mouth, lips, tongue, or nose.
- Your baby’s skin is pale, cold, and moist.
- Your baby’s whole body, arms, and legs are shaking (having a seizure).
- Your baby vomits more than twice in one day (spitting up is normal, vomiting is not).
- Your baby is passing less pee (urine) than usual, or the pee is a dark yellow in colour.
- Your baby has a lot more poops (bowel movements) than usual, and they are watery.
- If your baby’s poops are staying very dark after the fourth day or have stopped completely, contact your care provider.
- Your baby usually has regular poops (bowel movements), but these suddenly stop.
- Your baby feeds poorly or refuses to eat.
- Your baby cries more often or differently. Nothing you do seems to help.
Breastfeeding or chestfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby and yourself. For the first 6 months, human milk is the only food a baby needs. Most parents can develop a good supply to exclusively provide human milk. All babies need vitamin D. It is recommended to give 400 IU of vitamin D daily to breastfed babies starting at birth. Some infants may need more vitamin D. Talk to your health care provider. After 6 months, babies start eating other foods. Continue to provide breast milk for 2 years or more. It is important for your baby to receive breast milk. Breast or chestfeeding for any period of time is better than not breastfeeding at all.
Breast milk is good for your baby because it:
- Protects your baby against illness.
- Helps prevent your baby from having an upset tummy.
- Helps your baby’s jaw and teeth to develop properly.
- Is always fresh and ready.
- Provides closeness and warmth from you to your baby.
- Promotes good health and brain development.
- Protects your baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Best for Baby
Breastfeeding is best for baby. Human milk is medicine – it is medicine for the baby.
Learning about Breastfeeding or Chestfeeding
Learn about how to do this before you have your baby. Talk to people in your prenatal class, explore resources,or talk to your health care provider.
Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is good for you because it:
- Helps your womb (uterus) to quickly return to its normal size.
- Helps protect you from cancer.
- Saves time and money.
- Helps you bond and communicate with your baby.
Facts about breastfeeding/chestfeeding:
- Providing human milk to your baby can provide a lot of freedom as well as present challenges. You can feed your baby anytime and anywhere you feel comfortable. You do not need to take along bottles or formula. There is no need to worry about where to warm up the formula or about sterilizing bottles.
- People who breastfeed or chestfeed can eat all foods. You can eat what you like. There are no restrictions on what you can eat while producing human milk. Only rarely do babies react to the food a parent eats. If that happens, speak with your health care provider.
- If you smoke you can still breastfeed/chestfeed. If you cannot quit smoking, it is best to smoke after you offer milk to your baby.
- In Canada, everyone has the right to breastfeed/chestfeed in public. Some people feel more comfortable putting a thin blanket over their shoulders when breast feeding in public. Do what makes you feel safe and protected.
- Most people make more than enough milk to feed baby. The amount of breast milk depends on how often and how well your baby feeds. The more your baby suckles, the more milk your body will make. Some people may be prescribed medications to boost their milk supply.
- Breastfeeding/chestfeeding does not hurt. In the first few weeks of breast feeding, it is common to have sore or tender nipples. The most common reasons for pain are poor positioning or a poor latch. If you feel pain after the first week, be sure to get help.
- You can usually tell if your baby is getting enough milk. You can tell that your baby is getting enough to eat by the number of wet and dirty diapers and by baby’s weight gain. You also can tell by the way your baby feeds. Sometimes new babies are sleepy and parents need to wake them for feedings. www.lllc.ca/joint-statement-use-term-chestfeeding
For information and support:
Canadian Lactation Consultant Association
Find a lactation consultant.
Your Local Public Health Department
La Leche League Canada
Information, videos and support for breast feeding.
Public Health Agency of Canada