Postpartum care: how to look after yourself
“Postpartum” refers to the six weeks after the birth of your baby. It is such a special time of bonding with your baby, as well as a time of adjustment to all the lifestyle changes. However, it is also important to look after yourself after the birth of your baby.
Depending on whether you had a vaginal or caesarian section, your body will require some different recovery strategies. Regardless, both types of delivery are taxing on your body, so you make sure that you employ these simple, universal tactics for self-care:
- Get enough rest. We know this is easier said than done, but you and your body need to heal and adjust to these new expectations and changes on your body. Your baby will wake up every two to three hours, so it is important that you get as much sleep and rest as possible whenever you can.
- Eat healthy meals. It’s important that you are stocking up on your vitamins, minerals, whole grains and extra protein as this will help you to heal faster. It’s also good to be drinking extra fluids – especially if you are breastfeeding.
- Ask for help. It’s okay to ask friends and family for support. Your body needs to heal, and you will need practical hands on help around the house. Most of your close ones will be happy to help, so give them a chance to be involved and assist with cooking meals, running errands and handling simple chores if needed.
Vaginal delivery vs caesarian section
The type of delivery you have may affect the length of your hospital stay and some of the restrictions and discomfort you may experience postpartum.
After a vaginal delivery, you may experience some tenderness while sitting due to a pelvic floor tear or episiotomy. Sitting on a special cushion or “donut” may relieve some of this pain. Sitz baths may be helpful for post-episiotomy soreness as well. It is important to increase your fiber and fluid intake to avoid any constipation. Talk with your doctor if you need stool softeners to help you with this.
After a caesarian section, you may not be able to drive or pick up anything heavy for up to six weeks’ postpartum. Your doctor will let you know how long you should rest. Avoid doing any “sit-up” motions, crunches, or anything that requires using your abdominal muscles, as they will require some time to heal. Your incision site may be tender initially, but it will heal and become less uncomfortable with time. It is important to keep the scar area clean and dry.
If you have concerns or are simply wondering if what you are feeling is normal, then it’s best to contact your doctor. The doctors and medical professionals at HART Fertility Clinic would be happy to help you as you journey through these first few weeks with your baby.