Tried and True Postpartum Recovery Guide
Childbirth is one of those experiences that is both incredible and beautiful. Recovery from said childbirth can be a completely different story. Here are some tried and true tips to a smooth(ish) postpartum recovery.
1. Take care down there.
I’m going to be brutally honest here… if you gave birth vaginally, you’re going to have to give your lady parts and rectum a lot of TLC. Your recovery is going differ depending on whether you tore, experienced an episiotomy or if your perineum stayed intact. All women who deliver vaginally will experience some swelling, small contractions and gushes of blood. Here are a few tips to help alleviate the discomfort:tutorial android
- Grab all of the things from the hospital. (The mesh undies, the huge maxi pads, your peri bottle, tucks pads, Dermoplast, etc.) Ask for extras, even.
- Create a “padsicle.” (A maxi pad, ice pack, tucks and then a spray of Dermoplast.) This will be your new best friend, trust me.
- Big maxi pads are your friends, especially during those first few days.
- To alleviate itching in your vaginal and rectal area, try witch hazel pads. (I just put them in my padsicle and rolled with it.)
- When you get home from the hospital, use a hand-held mirror to look at your perineum. That way, if you experience a problem, you will have a baseline to know if something has changed, e.g. increased swelling, redness or drainage. You know that plastic squirt bottle they give you in the hospital? Use it every time you use the bathroom. Every. Time.
- Don’t forget about your Kegel exercises, because your pelvic floor (and sphincter muscles) needs to tighten back up.
- Invest in some lubricant… because sex after giving birth is probably going to be painful for a little (or a long) while, and the change in your estrogen levels can cause a temporary thinning of your vaginal membrane, which can cause vaginal dryness.
2. Mind that C-section.
Let’s not forget that a Cesarean section is major surgery. Women who receive a C-section tend to spend a day or two longer in the hospital, and oft times have a different path to recovery than those who deliver vaginally. Here are a few tips to help said recovery go more smoothly:
- Rest, but also make sure that you spend time walking around every day. This helps the healing process and discourages the development of complications like blood clots. Start slowly, and increase activity gradually.
- Avoid heavy housework and lifting anything heavier than your baby for eight weeks.
- Because of the tenderness of your abdominal muscles, make sure you take advantage of stool softeners and drink lots of water to avoid constipation.
- Examine your scar, so that you’ll know if any problems arise. Initially, it will be slightly raised, puffy and darker than the rest of your skin, but it should start to shrink significantly within six weeks of surgery.
- Make sure you have someone who can help you with baby for the first little while. Depending on how you feel, having a mother’s helper to lift up baby and bring her to you will help you as you are healing.
3. Don’t be afraid to say, “no.”
This one can be a little difficult, especially if you have caring family and friends who all want to help. Don’t be afraid to listen to your gut and send people away if things are getting a little too crazy. The most important thing you can do for your baby is to ensure that you’re both getting the rest you need. Having too many people around can actually hinder that rest… so suggest that family and friends stagger their visits.
4. Take care of yourself mentally.
If you are prone to anxiety or depression, be aware that these can be heightened postpartum. This can be especially true if you experienced a traumatic birth or if your child is in the NICU. Don’t be afraid to be honest about what you’re feeling, and to reach out for help.
5. Give yourself a break!
If you need to cry it out, cry it out. Remember that parenting is hard work. Adding a member to your family dynamic, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation can all take a toll. You’re not going to love it every minute, and that’s okay. You are stronger than you think, and doing great!
-Contributed by Lauren Soderberg
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