Recover Quickly from Normal Childbirth
Edited by Olivia, Lynn, Marian Raquel F. Roncesvalles, Alma and 2 others
How long did you stay at the hospital after you delivered your firstborn? Did you have a hard time adjusting at home? Do you think it's better to be in the hospital than at home to recuperate?
A first time mother may get overwhelmed by the sudden changes in her life after childbirth. With the help of a supportive family, friends and her partner, she can breeze through these changes easily. However, like the first few months of pregnancy, she may experience many changes and the responsibilities could be very challenging yet stressful especially for a first-time mom. Recovery from the process of childbirth is vital in order for her to start learning her duties and responsibilities as a new mother. If there's no complications in the childbirth and your baby is well, you are usually sent home two to three days after a normal spontaneous delivery (NSD).
What to do at home to recover quickly from childbirth?
Replenish your strength by eating right
This is not yet the time to think about losing weight although you could really be eager at this point to lose the flab and fit right into your old clothes. Do not fret, your body will go back to its pre-pregnant state in a couple of weeks. If you are weight-conscious, resist the urge to control your diet. You will need your strength to take care of your newborn baby, and eating less than the usual will not help. Eat a well-balanced diet composed of healthy whole grain foods as well as fruits and vegetables to nourish and strengthen the body. Also, it is recommended to include fiber-rich food and protein in your diet to promote tissue repair. Consult a nutritionist to be able to guide you with the appropriate food groups and intake recommended for your condition. You should eat more at this point to be able to regain your strength which was utilized during the entire duration of your pregnancy and the childbirth process. If you are thinking about your possible weight gain, don't worry because you will naturally lose all the baby weight as you go along with the recovery process especially as your body gets rid of excess blood, amniotic fluid, and water retained during the course of pregnancy. All of these will tantamount into generous pounds removed from your total body weight during the entire recovery period. At this point, it is important to eat right to be help your body recuperate and gain more energy for bigger responsibilities ahead as a parent.
Increase your fluid intake
You will notice that during the recovery period, you tend to urinate more frequently than usual.This is because there is a fluid shift inside the body which means that the fluid that your body has accumulated or retained during pregnancy is being excreted in the form of urine. In addition, excess fluid buildup will also be eliminated through profuse sweating. It is important at this point to keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water, milk, and other healthy fresh fruit beverages to help boost your energy levels and keep you in shape for your responsibilities as a new mom. Avoid too much caffeine though as it can affect your supply of breast milk and can even make your baby fussy for long hours. Some moms tend to forget their daily fluid intake, especially when they are busy tending the house and the new baby but daily and regular water intake is important for cellular repair and for keeping you alert and revitalized for daily tasks. This is very important, especially when you are breastfeeding. You need to be completely hydrated in order to feed your baby adequate nutrients. Keep your bottled water handy while doing household and mommy chores or when going out for a quick stroll with the baby. Drinking a glass of water whenever you are breastfeeding will help you get more energized. Making sure that you are taking fiber-rich foods and lots of water will reduce constipation and keep your bladder in top shape. There are stool softeners that are also widely available over the counter.
Take action to hasten healing of a vaginal incision
Sometimes, a vaginal incision is made to accommodate passage of the baby during childbirth. If this has happened, you will notice a surgical wound. You can hasten healing of this surgical wound with sitz baths. A sitz, or hip, a bath can be accomplished at home. Hip bath seats can be purchased from your local pharmacy. However, you can make a makeshift hip bath using a chamber pot. Boil a pot of water and pour it in a chamber pot. Sit on the chamber pot without any underwear. The steam and heat will promote healing of the vaginal tissues. It is also advisable to use an antibacterial feminine wash (with iodine) for proper cleansing of your vagina and for promoting rapid healing of the vaginal incision. This will also prevent the vaginal incision from contracting any infection or possible complications. Postpartum cramps are normal. You can reduce these after pains by taking ibuprofen medication like Advil. It is wise to ask a prescription from your physician to be assured that you are taking accurate and safe dosages of your medicines. If in case there is pain and inflammation in your vaginal opening, you can apply ice on the affected area for at least 10 minutes or so. You can also use an ice pack or place a cloth with the ice to prevent soreness that can be felt upon application. Most women who had a normal childbirth experience having hemorrhoids which can be inflamed and painful. This can even protrude and bleed upon contact with clothing. The sloughing off process of the uterine lining may take up to 6 weeks. This will allow your tummy to shrink back to its normal size. In addition, the perineum tends to be inflamed and enlarged at this point especially if you have had an episiotomy. Pain and redness can also be felt on the area which may take around 4 to 6 weeks to completely heal. This may even hurt whenever you sit or move around. You can ease the discomfort brought about by hemorrhoid or pain in the perineum through application of ice compresses.
Breastfeeding is not only beneficial to your baby, but to you as well. When you breastfeed, your body produces a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone will help to contract your uterus, thus preventing uterine bleeding. This is also regarded to be effective in shedding off those excess belly fat that accumulated from pregnancy and in accelerating the shrinking of the uterus back to its normal size. This trims down your lower abdomen while keeping your baby nourished altogether. Breastfeeding is also regarded as an effective contraception or what is referred to as lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) which can only be effective if the mother's monthly period has not returned yet, exclusively breastfeeding the baby from daytime to nighttime (without any milk or formula substitutes and other food preparations), and if the baby is not more than 6 months old. This method is said to be 98% reliable and effective; but it is always advisable to make use of another contraceptive method alongside LAM to ensure efficacy. Breast engorgement is also very common after giving birth. You may feel that breasts are heavier, fuller, harder, painful, or generally uncomfortable.The pain and swelling is attributed to the active milk production going on which gets you all set for nursing your baby. The pain and inflammation of the nipples or breasts may be felt up to the armpit area. This could also be accompanied by fever. Engorgement of the breasts or mastitis can be alleviated by nursing your baby frequently or at least 8 times or more per day. Do not offer milk formulas during the first few weeks and make sure that the baby empties one breast before switching to another. You can also apply warm compress on the affected breast to reduce inflammation. Also, take ibuprofen for breast pain. It is advisable to indulge in warm baths before breastfeeding.
Plan and make time for exercise
Though you may be busy with the new baby, doing exercise will help you achieve your pre-pregnant state faster. In addition, exercise like brisk walking in the morning will help promote good circulation. If you developed varicose veins during pregnancy, exercise will also help minimize its unsightly appearance. You can also do tummy and back exercises that will enhance your strength and muscle resistance while losing the extra tummy fat. It would be helpful to consult a fitness expert on the particular exercises that would be safe and appropriate for your condition. Make sure that you do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and to avoid stress incontinence and fecal incontinence. Kegel exercises can be done right at home which involves stopping your urine stream. Contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles for 5-10 seconds each time. Repeat this process for 10 times in a day. This also improves the elasticity of your cervix and vagina. Yoga exercises are also beneficial for mothers to help them relax and to avoid the "baby blues" brought about by hormonal fluctuations. You can consult your physician as to how much physical activity your body can tolerate at this point. It would also be fun to integrate your exercises with your daily mommy and baby routine. Low-key exercises like walking or some minimal stretching exercises could be allowed at this time.
The first few weeks after normal delivery is very crucial to help you recuperate completely and return to your normal daily routine. You should avoid any rigorous or tedious activity at this point. Complete bed rest or minimal activity should be done especially during the first 10 days when the body is still on is early stages of recovery. Avoid using the stairs or lifting heavy objects especially during the first few days of having the baby to avoid any accidents or causing any injuries as well as profuse bleeding. Do not resume with office work or any household chores. Do not go out and drive. It would be helpful to ask for assistance from your husband or any family member to do these extra laborious tasks for you. Hiring an additional help would also be a great option especially for the first few months especially if you have other children to take care of or if you have had a complicated delivery and need more time for recovery.
Get lots of rest and sleep
The first few weeks of being a mother is where mixed emotions come in. Your hormones could be going haywire at this point, your worries could be settling in, the excitement and exhaustion combined could definitely prove to be very overwhelming. After months of being pregnant and going on labor as well as childbirth, you definitely need to rest and recharge in order to be better equipped for larger responsibilities that comes with the whole package. There is no better way to recharge than to get as much sleep as you need to recuperate your mind and body. It is advisable to take frequent long naps especially when your baby is asleep. It is also recommended to restrict visiting hours and keep it to a minimum especially during the first few weeks after you have given birth. This can be stressful for you and your baby. More so, too many visitors can pose a heightened risk of infection for your baby. You can also get additional help at home while recovering to assist you with taking care of the baby and other household chores. Be careful not too strain yourself too much and to get enough rest to avoid any health complications. You can also take some time off to relax and enjoy a good book or to watch your favorite flicks.
Delay sexual intercourse
It is best to avoid having sexual intercourse especially during the first 2 months or from 4 to 8 weeks when you are still recuperating from the rigorous pregnancy and delivery phase. You and your partner must wait it out until your body have fully recovered and your vagina is completely healed to avoid any risk of bleeding, re-opening of stitches, and infection. This allows time for the cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop, and any tears or repaired lacerations to heal. One important thing is that sex drive or "libido" can be affected especially during the first few weeks after you have given birth. It can be a huge setback as sex could take the backseat for awhile but yet again, this is just temporary. All of the hormonal changes alongside with the stress, anxiety, excitement, and fatigue of taking care of a newborn can alter your sex drive and response. Some women may be physically ready to engage in sexual intercourse but they could be emotionally held back or unresponsive. You must also expect your vagina to lose some degree of elasticity and moisture especially after normal delivery. Breastfeeding, hormonal changes, and the use of birth control pills may also cause vaginal dryness and tenderness. Sexual arousal is also adversely affected because of the reduced muscle tone. This can however be addressed by Kegel exercises. More so, sexual fervor or arousal could be somewhat altered due to the fact that a baby can leave a mother much preoccupied the entire day which could leave her tired during coitus. This is normal especially on the early months of having a new addition to the family especially when both of you are practically hands-on with taking care of your baby. Sorting out schedules and making time for your intimacy as a couple should also be given a priority alongside enjoying your parenting responsibilities. After a few months, you can plan a day in each week to get out on a date as a couple and rekindle the flame. You will be much better parents if you are able to communicate and bond together as partners and a couple. Sex is definitely a healthy plan if you are both emotionally and physically ready. It is advisable to take it at a much slower pace and steadily build up the intimacy. You can also use water-based lubricating creams for vaginal dryness. The most important thing is that when you decide to resume having sexual intercourse again, you must try to focus on each other (that moment) and not on your piles of laundry, diaper changes, or other to-do lists. It is also advisable to seek your physician's advice and recommendation on whether you are ready to have sexual intercourse again. This is also a good time to ask for the appropriate birth control or planning methods that will suit your preference and lifestyle.
Cope with Postpartum Blues
Your body is bound for more changes even after the rigorous bouts during labor and delivery. The transition to a mom role could be both very exciting and scary for a new mom which could make you stressed out. Some even experience withdrawal or indifference when taking care of the baby. Your hormonal levels of progesterone and estrogen along with others tend to dissipate and go haywire. These hormonal fluctuations are normal yet can bring about erratic mood changes and emotional turmoil especially when coupled with sleep deprivation and stress brought about by taking care of a newborn. Feeling anxious or depressed could last from a few days to several weeks but it would just go away. All of these emotional rendezvous are part of both the physical and psychological repertoire of the body to recuperate and adjust to the changes of having a newborn to take care of. The whole nine yards of the pregnancy and delivery can take much toll on any woman and can precipitate mood alterations. Some of the common symptoms of postpartum blues include crying, sadness, agitation, anxiety, insomnia, decreased appetite, and irritability; to name some. If you experience postpartum blues at a much extended time than normal, then you could be suffering from postpartum depression which is a more serious type of disease. This is more commonly observed in mothers who have a family history of depression or have displayed depressive symptoms in the past. It is important to seek expert help from a psychologist or physician that can help you cope and move forward from the perils of this long-term disease. Moreover, the love, understanding, and support of your family and friends can help you go through the chains of having postpartum depression (PPD).
After 9 months of being pregnant and giving birth to a bundle of joy, you certainly deserve to be pampered for being a new mom. You may feel empowered and eager to be the superwoman that you are, but even supermoms need an extra hand. Get rid of the itch to multitask and get some help. You must take time off from work and your daily routine household chores to allot more time to recharge and get ready for your new role as a mom. This is also a good time to let your hubby take charge of other mundane chores and organizing things. It could really be frustrating and even tempting to jump in and take over everything whenever things get chaotic at home (such as when you see clutter in the kitchen, disorganized closets, or laundry piles); but let other people help you out at least while you are recovering from childbirth. You can help out by making notes on how to organize things at home like bills to be paid or other to-do's in a day-to-day grind and hand it over to your husband or family member. You can ask friends and family to picks some stuff for you at the grocery or even bring meals so you don't have to fuss around in the kitchen. You can either hire a reliable household help to assist you with chores or a laundry and cleaning service especially when no one can help you out on a daily basis. Relax and enjoy a good book or watch your favorite movies over and over again (or rent new flicks). Listen to music while having a long and relaxing warm bath. Indulge in aromatherapy massages at home with a professional therapist. You and your girlfriends can also organize a spa party for you and the baby so you can get your nails painted and do a makeover to switch your moods up and prevent or reduce postpartum blues. You can also join a support group for mothers who can help you out in dealing effectively with the bliss and challenges of motherhood. This is also recommended especially for single mothers or very young moms who need extra guidance and direction. There are lots of relaxing and enjoyable activities that you can do to pamper yourself and give you the boost you need for this new journey with your baby. Pick light and enjoyable activities that you can do at home while taking care of your baby. Once you have recuperated and ready to do more, then you can work hard and play harder. Some mothers tend to forget or neglect themselves in the process which is not right. Being a mom entails sacrifice and bulk of responsibilities but you should never forget or disregard your needs. Remember that it takes an energetic and fulfilled mom to raise an equally happy and intelligent child.
The length of the healing and recovery period is unique to every woman. It varies, and no two cases of postpartum healing are the same. It may be longer for women who experienced complications during pregnancy (even if they were able to deliver a baby via spontaneous childbirth) while it may be shorter for women who are physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy and prepared to go the extra mile and take on the challenging yet very rewarding role of a mom.
Health & Wellness
Recent edits by: Maria Quinney, Alma, Marian Raquel F. Roncesvalles