Congratulations on the birth of your baby!
Now that your baby has arrived, it’s time to focus on your body’s recovery while you take care of your baby’s needs. Between hormonal changes and the reality of life with a newborn, the first six weeks after birth may be a bit of a roller coaster!
Here are DayOne’s Top Ten Tips for an Easier Postpartum Recovery:
- Accept help from your partner, family and friends. While you feed and care for your baby, others may help with laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, and preparing meals. Set boundaries with well meaning relatives who want to help by holding your baby while you wait on them!
- Sleep when the baby sleeps! When the baby is sleeping it is tempting to get things done around the house but the baby will be up throughout the night so catching sleep in small bits when you can is a necessity.
- Don’t forget to eat. In the craziness of your day, it is easy to put your baby’s needs above yours but it helps everyone if you take care of yourself. Try snacking on high protein foods like nuts, cheese, oatmeal, Trailmix, smoothies, fruits, vegetables and yogurt. Consider taking a vitamin and mineral supplement designed specifically for the needs of new mothers as they recover from birth. DayOne’s New Mother’s Essentials include B Vitamins that have been shown to help decrease postpartum depression as well as many other vitamins and minerals needed by new moms.
- If you experienced a vaginal tear or episiotomy, consider using a sitz bath to aid in healing and lessen discomfort. Sitz baths are shallow plastic basins you can purchase at any drug store. Fill the basin with warm water, lift the toilet seat and place the sitz bath in place. Try to use the sitz bath for 10 minutes, 4 times a day. The warm water is soothing and helps draw circulation to the area to encourage healing.
- Hemorrhoids can be very uncomfortable. Refrigerate witch hazel towelettes (such as Tucks) and apply them to your bottom throughout the day. If your health care provider prescribed a stool softener to prevent constipation, it is helpful to take it to avoid making hemorrhoids worse.
- Many women are anxious to return to exercising right after birth. Start slowly with walks around the block and monitor your bleeding. A sign you are doing too much is when the bleeding increases or returns to bright red after exercising. Most women are able to returnto their full exercise programs by 6-8 weeks postpartum. We recommend a special class for postpartum women such as DayOne’s Mom and Baby fitness classes or Mom and Baby Yoga, with certified instructors who are aware of the special needs of postpartum women.
- Breastfeeding is a learned activity. Most women find it takes at least a few weeks to feel comfortable and confident about breastfeeding. Board Certified Lactation Consultants have been trained to help make these first weeks more comfortable and easier for you andyour baby, so if you are experiencing challenges feeding, consult with a lactation consultant.
- It is normal to perspire a lot and to urinate twice as much as you usually do. Your body is ridding itself of excess fluid. If you received Pitocin in labor, you may also find your ankles swollen for the first week or two. The best way to help encourage the fluid loss and feel more comfortable is to drink lots of fluid. Every time you feed your baby, drink some water to thirst for about 8-10 glasses a day.
- Life with a newborn can be very isolating. Once your partner returns to work and friends and family go home, you may find you don’t know what to do with a newborn yet feel overwhelmed by the thought of leaving the house. We encourage new moms to try to come to a New Parent’s Group when they are ready, usually at about 2-3 weeks after the baby is born. This is a safe place to take a baby who may cry, need to feed or need a diaper change! Surrounding yourself with other parents experiencing the same things you are can be very reassuring and learning tips and tricks to soothe, feed and encourage sleep in babies is helpful.
- Crying for no particular reason, aka “The Baby Blues” is very common (up to 80% of all women experience them) and can be triggered by the dramatic hormonal, biochemical and psychological changes a new mother experiences. If you are feeling like these symptoms are persisting or worsening, talk to your OB health care provider and seek help. Postpartum depression is very treatable so get some help (see sidebar).