It goes without saying that birthing a child in any way involves a fair amount of discomfort, and yes… pain. Productive pain with a purpose (and a super cute end result)… but still! I’m a firm believer, though, that the postpartum recovery period can, in many ways, be shortened and made more bearable. Feel better faster, and get back to yourself, mama!
Ice ~ After delivering a baby, my bottom is swollen and sore. Sitting is miserable, and one of my favorite things about the 24-hour hospital recovery is easy access to refillable crushed ice packs. Ice reduces swelling and (slightly) numbs the pain. When you need to sit, I say sit on some ice!
Keep moving ~We arrived home with our sweet girl at 11:30 Sunday morning after having her at 2:30 Saturday morning. Once home for a couple of hours (long enough to nurse her and take a nap) I puttered around the garden for a while. That evening, after getting the other kids to bed, I headed out for a walk. The neighbors were slightly confused. “Hey! Didn’t you just have a baby?!” but I simply told them that walking (slowly) felt better than sitting!
When I posted this photo the morning after birth, a few well-meaning commenters insisted, “You should be the one sitting!” Um, no thanks. Ouch! Unless I’m nursing or holding the baby (with ice on my bottom!) I prefer to stand and move around, thankyouverymuch.
Obviously, I’m not encouraging over-exertion after delivering a baby. Don’t push yourself to pain, and don’t do anything your doctor tells you not to! But, if movement feels good, if being up and around is less tiring than sitting, by all means… move!
Rest ~ The obvious. The elusive. I know. It’s important, though, to achieve that balance between moving around to keep the sore muscles loose and feel human, and getting enough rest… to feel human. There are few things more necessary in those first few days with a new baby home than making time for sleep. You’re likely not going to sleep more than 3 or so hours at a time for many weeks, so catch those 3 hours when you can!
Take people up on their offers for help, purchase some convenience foods, stock the freezer, let the other children watch a movie… do what you need to do to get some sleep!
Hydrate Yourself ~ After delivery I guzzle the ice water. Labor is work! You lose tons of water, and if you’re not hooked up to an IV (yay!) then it’s absolutely vital that you rehydrate right away. (Yes, I drink water during labor, too, but still. It’s draining.) Even without the whole giving birth factor, dehydration tends to make a person feel sluggish, bring on the headaches, cause constipation (something a new mom does not need to deal with!) and generally make life miserable.
Water is my liquid of choice, but it does get old when I drink so much. Bring on the juice, Emergen-C, and coconut water, too.
Vitamins ~ Don’t stop taking your prenatal vitamins after delivery. The postpartum period is taxing on the system, and vitamins will provide extra support.
Kegels ~ The mere thought of kegel exercises following delivery gives me the shivers, but I do manage a few a day or two after. Don’t cause yourself additional pain, but it’s good to get the pelvic floor whipped back into shape when you can.
Keep Clean ~ I’d give up a meal and even some sleep in favor of a shower or bath in those early postpartum days. I know the newborn daze leaves little time or desire for primping, but don’t skip your daily (or even twice a day) shower. You’ll feel more human and it won’t be quite so scary to answer the door when the doorbell rings.
Tucks/witch hazel ~ Even before the hemorrhoids attack, I like to have witch hazel pads and wipes handy. They’re wet and cold, and they almost feel as good as the ice packs. If you’re a first time expectant mom, know that the hospital will give you a peri-bottle to squirt on your bottom after using the restroom. Feels good. Use it.
Oh, I’m forgetting things. I know I am! (And I’m sure there’s more to be said for c-section recovery, which I know nothing about.) Chime in, moms. How do you feel better faster in the postpartum period?
Up next: The Postpartum Dad (yes, really!)