Father's Day 2020: Important To Understand The Post-Natal Phase And Its Complications
The post-natal phase or postpartum phase is a period which lasts up to 2–6 weeks. Sometimes this period may be delayed in which case it can last up to six months. This period is the most critical phase in the lives of the newborn and the mother. Hence, it is crucial for fathers to understand the importance of this phase and take all precautions necessary for their newborn and their partner.
So here are a few things to keep in mind during this period:
1. The importance of having someone near the mother and the newborn for the first 24 hours (regardless of the place of birth): WHO recommends the mother and child to remain under observation for the first 24 hours of life. As previously discussed, it is during this phase that most complications occur, so if the child has given birth in the hospital, remain in the hospital for 24 hours.
2. Postpartum Depression: Many women may undergo postpartum depression during this phase, so the father must know how to identify and the steps to take if this occurs. If she still seems truly overwhelmed several weeks after the baby comes home, or experiences bouts of crying, irritability or sleep disruptions other than those caused by the baby, encourage her to talk to her practitioner. Do not let her brush it off as she may not recognize the signs of depression. Also recognize that it may also be something that you as a father may suffer from too.
3. Continue to promote early and exclusive breastfeeding Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF): According to a study by Medela, EBF reduces the risks of mortality and morbidity in the first month of life and improves post-neonatal outcomes. Human milk is especially important to the preterm infant. It reduces the incidence, severity and risk of debilitating morbidities in a dose-response manner, with higher doses of human milk leading to the greatest protection It also encourages improved birth spacing by delaying the return to fertility. More and more policies and programmes are actively promoting facility-based counselling and support for EBF including counselling on common breastfeeding problems and ways to manage them if they occur. Fathers have an important role in successful exclusive breast feeding. Your constant support in the beginning to establish breast feeding can be vital. Offering a warm drink, an additional pillow or anything to make the mother comfortable can be of immense help.
4. Skin-to-skin contact and immunization: Also seen are key elements for new-born care, skin-to-skin contact helps the new-born by regulating their heart rate and breathing, it also helps them to better adapt to life outside the womb. All babies must also receive the vaccines necessary to help them adapt to this new environment.
5. The mother and baby need at least four postnatal check-ups in the first 6 weeks. According to the recent guidelines, in addition to postnatal care with two full assessments on the first day, three additional visits are recommended, between days 7– 14 and 6 weeks after birth.
6. Get hands on from beginning- Get involved with day to day care of your baby. This can include, dressing, settling, nappy changing, bathing etc. This can build up your skills and confidence. You could try carrying and holding your baby as often as you can. Physical touch can make your baby safe and secure and builds trust and connection with you. This eventually leads to better bonding and also stimulates your baby’s brain development.
7. Talk to your baby as often as you can- Every word baby hears helps to develop language and learning.
Becoming a new-father and embarking on this new journey may seem overwhelming in the beginning, but with the right tools and guidance, you will also be able to enjoy the process.
(Author Dr Jose Paul is Senior Consultant Neonatology, Aster Medcity)