If you’ve just begun a new miraculous stage of life after giving birth, there are some practical suggestions to make you as comfortable and healthy as possible.
The postpartum period is about 6-8 weeks after birth (longer if you’ve had a C-section), and during that time both emotional AND physical recovery are necessary. It’s a big adjustment! And the adjustment can be easier if you keep a few things in mind.
Rest –You’ve been using your body’s energy to make a person for the last 9 months, and the physical exertion it took to bring that person into the world is one of the toughest workouts you’ve had in a while. As trite or as impractical as this advice may sound, listen to everyone who tells you to sleep when your baby is sleeping. Give yourself permission to nap, and lower your standards for a clean house and productivity while you adjust to having this new miracle in your life. Sleep deprivation affects us in many ways, so get the rest you need.
Nutrition – One of the most important things you can do for your body after giving birth is to drink plenty of fluids. Especially if you are breastfeeding, your nutrition is key to a healthy and speedy recovery. Avoid the temptation to eat sugar or drink lots of caffeine, even though it seems like a good source of quick energy when you haven’t slept a full night in weeks. Your body needs a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats for energy. High fiber foods are also a good idea after childbirth so that bowel movements will be less painful.
Emotional / Social Support – Because hormones are a part of the changes our body goes through after childbirth, it’s important to know the difference between “Baby blues” and postpartum depression. Feeling listless, weepy, or moody is a natural part of the traumatic experience you’ve been through in giving birth. If the emotions are intense, last for more than a few weeks, or if there is a dramatic change in eating habits, or a lack of interest in caring for your baby, seek medical attention.
Physical Comfort – Because certain areas of your body have had more of a workout than others during childbirth, those same areas will need more attention and care. Products like Epsom salts for baths, witch hazel pads for hemorrhoids, and nursing cream for discomfort may help with the strains your body has undergone. And never underestimate the relief that a warm or cool washcloth can bring to various areas of your body! Even though you won’t be doing a vigorous workout for a few weeks, Kegel exercises can help restore strength and aid with bladder issues as well as difficulties you may experience with bowel movements.
Chiropractic for You and Baby – We can’t stress enough the importance of chiropractic care for a healthy pregnancy, healthy newborn, and more comfortable postpartum experience. Because your body just experienced the marathon of labor and birth, straining during pushing or maintaining some strange positions to get through contractions, the last thing you need as you recover is discomfort in your back and neck.
More importantly, your body is now going through the changes of producing milk and trying to return your body parts to their pre-pregnancy position, size and shape. Keeping your nervous system in top form assures that messages from your brain to your body are flowing with ease when your nervous system is uninhibited.
Since your recovery is directly affected by how well your baby is sleeping (so you can sleep) and eating (so you aren’t overly stressed out!) getting your newborn checked by a chiropractor with pediatric experience is essential. Your newborn just went through a physically demanding experience, as well! Babies under chiropractic care tend to experience less colic, fussiness, restlessness, reflux and skin conditions.
Read more about the benefits of chiropractic for infants here.
Overall, remember that full recovery from the miracle of childbirth takes time, and you don’t have to do it alone. Ask for help, and savor the pace that recovery requires so you can fully enjoy the first few weeks looking at that new baby!
Tips to share? We’d love to hear them?