Delivering your baby is a transformative, unforgettable experience- it might also be one of the most physically difficult things you’ll ever do. Here’s what to expect postpartum as well as how to care for yourself after you get home from the hospital.
Why didn’t anyone tell me it was going to be this hard? Every new mama in postpartum healing has questioned this once they got back from the hospital and are faced with the challenge of dealing with a new born while looking after themselves. Birth, whether vaginally or through C-section, is physically and also psychologically stressful, and healing from it on top of sleep deprivation can feel overwhelming.
Lots of mums want to know how long it takes to recover after giving birth. We don’t speak enough about what happens to women’s bodies postpartum. So we’re here to break the silence and tell you what to expect during your postpartum recovery – those runaway emotions, sore boobs and massive maternity pads are all completely normal. You got this, mama.
If possible, stockpile on the basics you need prior to you going to the hospital. They’re not as enjoyable to buy as infant’s going-home clothing or that adorable silk robe, however, you’ll thank yourself later.
Large, overnight-sized maternity pads, witch hazel pads or spray, soothing aloe vera gel, a tiny spray bottle and some full-coverage, soft, cotton underclothing will certainly be your besties in the coming days and weeks. If not, send your partner out on a trip to get these things, or make use of websites with same or next day delivery.
A lot of bleeding is normal
Postpartum bleeding, starts out like a very heavy period. Two to three days after giving birth, the blood can be bright red and very heavy. Over the next four to six weeks, the blood should get lighter in colour (pink, brown and cream colours are all normal).
Make sure to change your maternity pad every time you go to the bathroom or whenever else you feel it’s needed, and make sure to contact your doctor right away if the bleeding increases, soaks through your pad in less than an hour, or smells bad. These can be signs of complications.
Wait, was that a contraction?
You might of thought that your days of contractions were over after you gave birth, but some cramping and contractions are normal as the uterus shrinks back down to its pre-pregnancy size. These afterpains usually go away after a few days, but the whole process of shrinking back down takes about four weeks. Your body after birth is pretty amazing!
Stay on top of the pain
Have your prescription for painkillers filled in before you get home, and stock up on over-the-counter pain relief beforehand. Make sure you take the pills on time – managing your pain correctly is crucial to your recovery after birth. Pain will keep you from being able to move comfortably and breastfeed, so it’s important to manage it. Your doctor will tell you what the best pain medication and dosage is for you or offer non-medication options if you choose.
Look after your breasts
Three to five days after delivering, your milk will certainly come in and your breasts will feel sore, hot and inflamed to the touch. Hot and cold gel pads from the chemist can help relieve the discomfort and a good-fitting, non-underwired bra will definitely be your best friend, whether you are nursing or otherwise.
Breastfeeding is a remarkable, all-natural means to feed your infant, but it can be a difficult task. Fed is best. Make sure you seek support if you are struggling.
Pre-baby, you probably didn’t think much about poop, but that’s all about to change. Moving your bowels for the first time after giving birth can be scary if you’ve experienced tearing or have stitches, but the sooner you are able to, the better.
Move around as much as your doctor allows, drink plenty of water and eat high-fibre foods. When it’s time to use the bathroom, get some peace and quiet, and try to relax. If your doctor approves it, take an over-the-counter stool softener if you’re still struggling. And remember, the thought of pooping for the first time is often worse than the actual event itself. After peeing or pooping, use a spray bottle with water to clean yourself and gently pat dry with toilet paper.
Soothe that place
After birth, discomfort in your lady area is regular. You might experience vaginal tearing throughout birth, or have an aching perineum (the space between your vagina and anus). Ice bags can help ease the discomfort, so stock up on the ones provided by the hospital before you leave. If you forget then Amazon is your best friend. For a DIY option see below.
For postpartum perineal treatment at home, you can make your very own “padsicles” by putting aloe vera gel and also witch hazel spray on pregnancy pads, covering them in plastic bags and then placing them in the freezer. Also as tempting as it may be don’t make love, use tampons or put anything in your vagina until you have fully recovered.
Take care of your stitches
If you’ve had a C-section, follow your doctor’s guidelines for caring for your incision very carefully to avoid infection. Do not drive or exercise if you have been advised not to. Mild strolls and lifting absolutely nothing much heavier than your baby is enough of a workout right now. If you’ve experienced vaginal tearing use a spray container to cleanse the area and also pat it dry. Avoid taking baths up until told to do so by a medical professional, opting for warm showers instead.
Weep it out, if you must
Healing after birth isn’t easy. Postpartum hormones can make your feelings feel like a rollercoaster. Hormonal moods, lack of sleep and just feeling downright different from your typical self, can be frightening. Realise that being emotional is absolutely normal, and will certainly get better in time.
Speak with a member of the family or fellow mum-friend about how you’re really feeling and know it’s alright to be confused. If you’re feeling mad, anxious or cranky, or if your sensations are turning towards damaging yourself or your infant, look for assistance right away. Many ladies experience postpartum clinical depression but healthcare specialist are there to help.
Do what makes you feel like you
Yes, life as you recognise it has actually transformed, but you’re still you. When you look at the worn down face looking up at you from the washroom mirror, that can be hard to bear in mind. However, whenever possible, have somebody else watch your infant and also make the effort to do the little things that make you feel like you: taking a shower, checking out a book, having a coffee, blow-drying your hair, placing on make-up or getting a manicure or pedicure. Self-care isn’t indulgent, it’s definitely needed.
What did you do when you were postpartum that helped you and your baby? Let us know in the comments!
I am a housewife with 4 'children' in their 30's. As a mother I feel strongly about empowering other mothers with information that can help them with the different stages of motherhood. No mother should ever feel alone on the motherhood journey and we can all do our bit to help.