Firstly, a mother needs time to recover from the experience of the birth. This may require psychological as well as physical recovery. She may well be blissfully happy to be a new mother, but that does not necessarily mean she wants to host a series of parties by her bedside, answer constant congratulatory phone calls or endlessly relive the birth whilst attempting to breastfeed and settle her new baby! Too much of other people's attentions in the first few days can tire you unnecessarily and distract you from your primary focus.
Mother and child need ample opportunity to get to know each other, without constant interruption. These first few days are particularly special. Deep thoughts and feelings arise like never before, and these are best savoured alone with your baby and in intimate moments with your partner. Babies obviously do not have the speedy attention spans of elder children and adults, so their introduction into the world of new people should be slow and gentle.
If birthing at home, other people tend to respect that privacy more so than a hospital birth. Since hospitals are public places with extended visiting hours, visitors feel they can just drop-in uninvited - and frequently do at inconvenient moments. Depending on your own personality, social and family network, it is better to spread the word before the birth that after it you will contact people in your own time - "When I feel up to it". Of course you'd love them to come over to see the baby - "But when things have settled down".
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If you have given birth in an active and medici-nal-free state, you will more than likely be quite hungry afterwards. The most important thing you need is plenty of fluid to compensate for fluid loss. You also need to help the body prepare for the job of producing milk. The best fluids at this time are warm (not hot) herbal teas and cool (not cold) water and diluted fruit juices.
Your first solids should be a small amount of light yet satisfying foods like toast, cereals, rice, pasta, steamed or sautéed vegetables, thin broths or soups, salads. Giving your body a moderate amount of light sustenance to recover, but without undue heaviness, is the best idea. When the urge for the next meal comes around, you should resume eating to fully satisfy your hunger. For the first few days, your baby's needs of colostrum will not be very demanding on your system, but, since you are recovering from the exertion of the birth, eating well is very important. Good food and plenty of fluids are especially important if you have bled heavily, as nutritional deficiencies can reduce your milk production which begins around Day 2.
Hospital food, particularly for vegetarians, is still notoriously unsatisfying and usually inadequate to properly satisfy a hungry person, so if you are giving birth in a hospital, it is advisable to take along (or ask to have brought in) some wholesome food from home.