It still amazes me how little time is spent prenatally talking about postpartum recovery. We talk about the pregnancy and the birth. We discuss newborn care, breastfeeding and infant sleep. However, the recovery period for the birther, the brand new mom, the women who just birthed a teeny tiny human from her body, is too often overlooked. The postpartum period (or 4th trimester) is a time for healing, recovery and self discovery for a new family and it is so important. Read on for some helpful tips to encourage a healthy and happy postpartum.
Healing tips for a vaginal birth
Peri Bottle - This will be your best friend. You will most likely receive one from your nurse/midwife. Fill it with warm water or warm water infused with healing herbs and use it in the washroom instead of wiping. It will soothe the area as well as clean, moisten and aid in the healing process.
Ice - For the first 24 hours it is recommended to use ice/cold to reduce swelling and kick start the healing process. You can use frozen pads(DIY Padsicle recipe here) or ice packs to soothe the area. Remember to never put ice directly against the skin. Always use a small cloth or fabric on top of the ice!
After the first 24 hours you can make the switch to warmth and bathing to soothe the perineum. Sitz baths are a great way to help in the healing process and to soothe sore muscles that have just worked so hard to birth baby. You can add Epsom salts and healing herbs to your bath for recovery and relaxation. Do this several times a day as desired.
Healing tips for a cesarean birth.
If your baby was born via a belly birth it is very important to let your body rest and recover. Having a family member help you to move in and out of bed while you gently support your incision is very important. Belly wrapping is an excellent way to help your body heal gently lifting the belly away from the incision and providing support to the incision and the abdominal muscles as they re-align and heal.
You can never drink enough water. You should up your H2O intake during the postpartum period to aid in keeping stool soft. Constipation can lead to additional pressure on healing tissues! If your breastfeeding you will most likely find yourself feeling parched at feeding time. Your body is telling you to drink, drink, drink! Keep a large glass or bottle of water within reach and have your partner/family member refill it often.
This idea almost sounds to good to be true. In our busy world it can feel like a foreign concept but taking the time to allow your body to recover is important! Don't feel guilty about limiting visitors. Plan to spend at least 1 week (more if possible) staying inside the home and in bed as much as you can. Laying down as much as possible in those first days helps to relieve and restore tired muscles and tissue and avoids the pressures of gravity on your body. Have someone bring your meals and baby to you. Focus on staying warm, breathing, bathing, breastfeeding and bonding with your baby.
You can begin practicing your core breathing immediately after birth. Your core breath can be the first step to restoring and recovering the body after baby. It can also help stabilize the body when moving around or getting up/down from bed and aid in relaxation. For details on how to do Core Breathing click here.
It is perfectly okay to have a myriad of emotions that can range from good, to weepy, to sad and beyond in the postpartum period. It is also okay to praise yourself on the work your body just did. Take a moment (or several moments) each day to practice feeling gratitude toward yourself and your baby and the start of the journey you have embarked on together!
Wishing you a peaceful and joyous postpartum period.