It’s hard to know what to expect when you give birth, especially if this is your first pregnancy. However, there are several ways to prepare for your postpartum recovery. Make sure to take care of yourself amply with these tips.
Your nine-month pregnancy journey ultimately culminates the moment you deliver your newborn baby. Every delivery is unique and special. It can be either easy or complicated, and it can be quick and painless or slow and grueling. But no matter how you deliver your baby, you need ample time to heal after giving birth.
Even if you feel like doing household chores right after giving birth (which is true for many normal deliveries), you still need to take it easy. Postpartum recovery — or recovering fully from childbirth — may take as long as 2 months. During this period, it is best to rest and get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and avoid strenuous and stressful activities.
Aside from recovering from the physical exhaustion and fatigue of childbirth, postpartum recovery is also essential in giving you time to process the many emotions that you may feel. You may be very emotional during this time due to fluctuating hormones as well as the stresses that come with having a newborn baby.
Like pregnancy, postpartum recovery is not a one-size-fits-all experience. It is wholly possible to have an easy pregnancy and delivery and a challenging recovery — and vice versa. This is why it is important to equip yourself with tips to know what and what not to do after giving birth.
What to Do After Giving Birth
1. Eat healthy foods, especially foods high in fiber.
One thing that you can expect to happen after giving birth is constipation. To prevent straining and the development of hemorrhoids, it is very helpful to eat foods that are high in fiber to have soft stools.
2. Get enough sleep.
Even if it seems impossible during the first weeks, try to get as much sleep as possible as it is a crucial aspect of postpartum recovery. Enough sleep will keep you alert and mentally sound. It will also help you have a calmer and happier disposition.
3. Drink a lot of water!
Similar to eating foods rich in fiber, drinking a lot of water is also helpful in preventing constipation. But aside from that, you also need to have enough fluid intake to aid in breastfeeding (if you choose to breastfeed) and for a better state of health.
4. Do your Kegels.
It is advisable to go easy on exercising, but you may start with your Kegel exercises as soon as you can. Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which may have been weakened by pregnancy and childbirth.
5. Take care of your vaginal and perineal area.
It is normal to feel some pain and discomfort in your vaginal area if you had a normal delivery. There are several ways to combat the pain, such as topical lidocaine, sitz baths, and ibuprofen. You may also opt to squirt warm water on your vaginal area and perineum after peeing.
6. See your doctor for a postnatal checkup.
Your doctor or healthcare provider should see you at around 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth. They will see how you are doing physically (and emotionally) and prescribe you with necessary vitamins and medications.
7. Ask for help.
The postpartum period is the best time to ask for help. Because you should refrain from doing strenuous work, you should have someone help you mind your baby, do the household chores, and even run errands.
What Not to Do After Giving Birth
1. Neglect taking your vitamins.
You should not stop taking your vitamins even after you give birth, especially if you are breastfeeding. You need to continue taking prenatal vitamins to ensure that you have enough vitamins, iron, and other essential nutrients.
2. Accept too many visitors too often.
After giving birth, you can expect your friends and relatives to want to see you and your new baby. Don’t be pressured to accept every request! Entertaining guests can be draining and stressful, and you don’t need additional stressors during this time.
3. Do physically-straining activities and sudden movements.
There seems to be too much to do with a newborn baby around, but don’t forget to take it easy. Delegate the physically-demanding tasks like heavy lifting to your partner or a friend or a family member. Give your body enough time to recover!
4. Strain when in the bathroom.
Straining in the bathroom can damage tissues and muscles that are still recovering from childbirth. Aside from hemorrhoids, straining can also cause unpleasant effects like bleeding and pain.
5. Hold your pee.
It is tempting to hold your pee especially if it still stings around your vaginal area, but this is unadvisable. Urinate every 2-3 hours because an empty bladder helps your uterus resume its position. Urinating often will also reduce the risk of developing infections.
6. Go swimming in a swimming pool or tub.
While it is okay to have a shower, wait for 4-6 weeks before swimming in a pool or tub. You still have an internal wound, and swimming in a pool may introduce bacteria into your cervix. Wait until your bleeding has completely stopped and your cervix has closed.
7. Have sex too soon.
There are many ways to be intimate after giving birth, but until you have your doctor’s go signal, avoid having sex. Having sex may introduce bacteria into your cervix and can damage tissues that are still healing.
Pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery are all crucial stages of motherhood with their own specific challenges. Postpartum recovery can be a complicated time that involves physical trauma and complex emotions, so take time to fully heal. Know what to do and what not to do after birth to speed up the process so you can embrace motherhood and enjoy it to the fullest!