Your body has just done an incredible thing – it has grown a whole new human! This is an incredible feat, and your body needs time to recover afterward. During pregnancy, many of your organs and muscles move and stretch to accommodate the growing womb. You may also have stitches or a caesarean wound from your birth. In this article, I have shared my top tips for recovering from birth.
Resting is important, as you are likely to be quite tired from the birth and frequent night feeds. I suggest at least daily naps to my clients for the first few weeks. Often women tell me the hardest nights are the ones where they have been busy in the day and haven't made time to rest.
Make sure your partner is on board with this too - you might need to take shifts holding your baby so you can both catch up on some sleep.
Although I am sure you are excited for your little one to meet everyone, many women feel overwhelmed if they have too many visitors in the first few weeks. In many cultures around the world, mum and baby don't have any visitors until after the first month!
I know that social connection and support is important, so I encourage you to think about how you can find a balance that works for you- where you can still socialise with your family and friends, but also give your body the rest it needs.
When you message everyone to let them know your baby has arrived, you might like to put a little note at the end of the message that says 'we are so excited for you to meet him/her, but want to focus on our family for now so will let you know when we're ready for visitors'. I find this works really well and reduces the overwhelm of endless visitors.
Tips for tears and stitches
Ice can be helpful for reducing pain and swelling. Frozen maternity pads or ice packs are a great option.
Keep the area clean but avoid using soap/body wash. Clean water during a shower is great, or you might like to try warm water or saline in a drink bottle to squeeze on the area after going to the toilet.
Lying on your side rather than sitting (where possible) is often much more comfortable and reduces pressure on this area while it heals.
- Follow directions from your doctor/midwife regarding how to care for your wound.
- Pain relief will usually be recommended by your doctor and I encourage you to keep on top of your pain so that you are able to move around and feed your baby comfortably.
- You may find breastfeeding on your side lying down or football hold positions to be more comfortable as they do not put pressure on your incision.
Please contact your care provider immediately if you have any signs of infection such as redness, increasing ooze or discharge, odour, or an increase in pain.
Baby bump after birth
Know that it is completely normal to still have a baby bump for a good few weeks after birth. This is something that many mums are not expecting, and it can be quite a shock.
This ‘bump’ is because of the muscle relaxation that occurs during pregnancy and is also due to the womb still returning to its pre-pregnancy size. Your body will take a full six weeks (if not longer) to recover from birth.
Returning to exercise
Many women find going for a gentle walk to be beneficial. I recommend seeing a physiotherapist who has completed extra training in women’s health at around 6-8 weeks postnatal. This is important before returning to exercise, but also for supporting your pelvic floor long term.
Group exercise options such as yoga, pilates, and mums and bubs exercise can be great for both physical health, but also connecting with new mums. Please check with your midwife or obstetrician before recommencing exercise.
Taking it slow and focussing on your recovery in those first few weeks is crucial. There is no hurry. Just enjoy this time resting and getting to know your baby.
Article written by PBC Expo Midwife Hannah