Healthcare and tips for new parents
After you have given birth to your baby, you may feel a variety of emotions about your body.
Sex and intimacy
It may take time for your body to return to its pre-pregnant shape. Your vagina may be tender, especially if you have had stitches. If your baby is feeding frequently, you may feel tired of physical contact.
- Share these normal feelings with your partner.
- Let your partner know that you do care, that you do enjoy cuddling and touching, but may not feeling up to sexual intercourse for a few weeks.
- You can be sexually intimate without penetration occurring.
- While you are breastfeeding, there is a change of hormones in your body.
- This will mean that your vagina may be drier than usual and that you may need a lubricant.
- If dryness is a major problem, please talk to your doctor.
- During sex, your breasts may leak, so don’t be surprised.
- Use a lubricant, go gently, relax and don’t forget to use contraception.
- There is a chance that you could become pregnant before your six-week check.
- If you are sexually active and don’t want to get pregnant, use contraception (for example, condoms).
- You may choose to have the implant called ‘Implanon’ prior to you leaving hospital.
- There are other options available that may be more appropriate for you and your lifestyle.
- Your midwife and doctor are available to discuss your contraceptive options.
- For more information visit
Stress management for parents
It is normal to feel angry, frustrated and helpless sometimes. The responsibility of parenting can weigh heavily, especially if you are unable to control (such as your baby crying). If you have tried all the settling techniques and nothing is working, follow these steps:
- Put your baby down in a safe place such as in the cot with the cot side up.
- Leave the room (it’s OK to let your baby cry alone for 5-10 minutes).
- Think about why you are feeling angry or upset.
- Consider why am I (or was I) angry? Where does it stem from?
- Take 10 slow deep breaths – concentrating on making the out breath slow.
- Talk to someone if you are still feeling angry.
Looking after yourself
- Learn to ask for help.
- Develop a practical support system.
- Take time out just for you – do something you really enjoy.
- Try to allow some time for exercise.
- Don’t feel guilty ignoring the phone or doorbell at bath time, during meals, feeding and rest times.
- Put time aside for meals, especially with your family.
- Seek out new mothers so you don’t feel lonely or isolated.
- Visit your doctor at 6 weeks after birth.
Where to get help
Your baby's communication
Babies communicate in many ways including:
- eye rubbing
- jerky movements
- rooting or sucking if hungry
- not holding your gaze
For further information on crying babies:
- see your Tasmanian Personal Health Record Book (blue book)
- visit your Child Health and Parenting Service or doctor
- Contact the Tasmanian Parent Helpline on 1300 808 178.
- Visit the Raising Children website.
How to tell if your baby is hungry
- Your baby has ‘growth spurts’ regularly, so may want to feed more often.
- If you are breastfeeding this will also build up your milk supply.
- Crying is the last sign of hunger. Your baby will try to suck on their hand or something else first.
How to tell if your baby is lonely
- Your baby needs to have the warmth and reassurance of your presence.
- Lots of cuddles is a good thing, you can’t spoil a child with love.
How to tell if your baby is uncomfortable
- Too hot or too cold.
- Gas or a wet or dirty nappy.
- Wrapped too tightly.
- Been in the same position too long.
How to tell if your baby is in pain
- Drawing their knees up.
- Generally fussing.
How to tell if your baby is tired
- They are grizzly, jerky movements and grimacing their face.
- Avoid over stimulation and excitement.
- Gentle rocking before settling will help.
- Swaddle them gently and put them straight to bed.
How to tell if your baby is overstimulated
- Not interested in playing.
- Turning head away or not meeting your gaze.
- Give your baby even a few minutes of time and space.
- Watch for a happy and alert baby before resuming interactions.
Techniques to settle your baby
There are many ways of settling and comforting your baby, including:
- rhythmic patting
- walking with a pram or cuddling baby
- carrying the baby in a sling against your bod
- baby massage
- swaddling or wrapping in a bunny rug or sheet
- relaxation bath
- positioning baby over your knee, or arm or shoulder
- nappy change
- soothing and rhythmic sounds (lullaby, music, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, singing)
- baby sling or hammock
- allowing someone else to hold baby.
What to do if you can’t settle your baby
Take time out if you are feeling angry, stressed or frustrated with your baby.
You may try all of the above suggestions and still not settle your baby.
Try to stay calm.
It’s never OK to shake babies.
Taking steps to prevent irreversible harm is very important.