After birth: Now what?
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
The wait is over, you now have your little one in your arms after 40 long weeks. But now what?
The attention has shifted from you to your newborn--- and in most ways, rightly so. This baby needs lots of love and attention while he/she grows and learns about the world around them.
Unfortunately, often times you mamas take a back seat and may not give yourselves or be given the love and attention you need to recover.
Your body has gone through some major changes and now you have another human being connected to you at all times. How can you possibly take the time you need to recover?
Luckily your body is AMAZING and knows exactly what to do. With plenty of rest and nourishment, you should find that with time it will go back to the way it was before pregnancy more often than not.
What should you look out for, what is normal?
You will definitely be sore, no doubt about that. You may also experience headaches if given an epidural, cramping, fatigue, and constipation. The best thing for that is rest, however moving around may alleviate some pain. Stretching and light movement are the best ways to alleviate this soreness. As you heal you may be able to participate in more intense exercises. These will help with soreness as well as building muscles for stability and strength to help restore your body and regulate bowels.
For the first couple weeks to 2 months, you may have discolored discharge, (referred to as lochia). At first it will be red and will then turn pink. After a few days, it will turn brown-- then to yellow (after a couple weeks). For some people, it will stop at about two weeks. However, for some it may last a full 8 weeks postpartum. Women that went through a c-section may experience a shorted period of time.
If your perineum was torn during birth, you may experience pain with walking, sitting, and even during urination. If you experienced a c-section you may have some pain in your incision after. These are both wounds and should be treated the as such. Make sure they stay clean and dry, and do not participate in movements that may cause stretching or the overuse of muscles while still recovering. To find ways to prevent perineal tears, check out our blog post here!
Due to the stretching of the abdomen during pregnancy, most women experience abdominal/pelvic floor weakness. This can be strengthened by doing kegals and other light abdominal exercises. Some women elect to use whats called a belly binder or postpartum girdle, which has been found to relieve some back pain as well as c-section pain and give stability in the early stages postpartum. For helping getting one through insurance, check out Aeroflow Breastpumps. This company helps women get both breast pumps as well as belly binders through their insurance.
Because of the dramatic change of hormones during this time, many women experience hot/cold flashes as well as mood changes. Your body is transitioning from having mostly progesterone ---to prolactin and oxytocin. It will take some time to adjust to these hormones.
Breastfeeding is a good way for your body to heal as it signals to the uterus that the baby has been born. The uterus then begins to contract to its pre-pregnancy form. It may also help regulate moods and gives you the ability to rest with your baby.
Every woman is different and may experience different symptoms during their recovery, however, it is good to be prepared for what is to come and make sure that you are taking care of yourself as much as you are your baby.
Remember, give yourself grace! You just grew and gave birth to another human being--- created a miracle!. It will take time to feel like yourself again, but it will indeed happen. Check out our website to find out how we can best serve you!
Until next time!
Mikayla and Cassie
Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors
Boston Women's Health Book Collective. (2008). Our bodies, ourselves: Pregnancy and birth. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash
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