250 chapter 11: Labor and birth
If you feel very upset or sad
Most women feel strong emotions after giving birth. If you feel this way, health
workers and your family may think it is because you have a disability, especially if
you find it harder than usual to take care of yourself and do not seem to be able
to take care of your baby. They may not realize any new mother may feel sad or
worried for a few days, weeks, or even months. When these feelings are very strong,
and if you are not able to sleep or eat very well, and cry a lot, it is called depression.
A woman who had feelings like this after a previous birth is more likely to feel
You will feel better if you can talk to
someone you trust about your feelings.
You may also need extra help to take care of
yourself, your home, and your baby.
There are also some traditional rituals and
remedies, as well as modern medicines, to
help you feel better. The modern medicines
are expensive and can cause other problems,
so they should be taken only in extreme
cases. Talk to your midwife or health worker.
For more information about mental health,
see Chapter 3.
Care for a new baby
Breastmilk is the best food for your baby. Keep your baby warm and clean and let it
suckle as often as it likes.
Babies often have a little yellowish mucus coming from their eyes in the first
weeks after birth. You can wash out the eyes with breast milk or cool, boiled water
and a clean cloth. If the baby’s eyes get red, swollen, or have a lot of pus in them,
take the baby to a health worker.
Care of the cord
Keep the cord stump on the baby clean and dry. If possible, clean it with alcohol
and a clean cloth with every diaper (nappy) change. It will turn black and fall off
during the first week. You do not need to cover it with anything unless there are flies
or dust. Then you can use a very clean piece of gauze or cloth to cover it loosely.
If you notice redness or pus around the cord, the baby may have an infection.
Take the baby to a health worker for medicines right away. Watch for signs of tetanus,
an infection babies can get if the cord is cut with something that is not clean.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007