Now that baby is here, your body is adjusting to no longer being pregnant. It’s time to focus on your postpartum recovery.
Here is a handy guide to some of what you might experience.
For the first 4-6 weeks you will experience some cramping and bleeding. The cramping can be more intense with breastfeeding because is helping your uterus reduce back to pre-pregnancy size. The bleeding starts out like a heavy period and will slowly decrease over the next 4-6 weeks. It slowly changes in color from red to brown. During the first 2-3 weeks it can also fluctuate based on your activity level. If you are passing clots the size of an egg at any time, please contact your care provider.
Constipation can be a concern after having a baby. Your body is adjusting to not being pregnant, is still processing hormones, and an epidural or surgery can contribute to constipation. Taking a stool softener can help with elimination, and whatever you do, try to avoid straining. Staying hydrated and getting fiber in your diet can help. If you have hemorrhoids, there are a variety of care products that can help manage your symptoms while you recover.
Your perineal area will most likely be sore with or without a tear. Using ice packs can help decrease the soreness. The hospital will give you a peri-bottle to use while urinating to help dilute the urine so it doesn’t sting. This bottle is also great for cleaning up. Your provider may also suggest a sitz bath to help soothe the perineal area. Another tip, if you need to sit or squat, do so with your knees together as it decreases the strain on your healing tissue.
Your activity level will be based upon how you are feeling after delivery. Follow your body’s signals as you get up and around. Self care may be hard to fit in, but it’s worth even a few moments of focusing on yourself and making sure you have what you need. Taking a mild walk, running a few errands, or going out to a meal might be just what you need to feel good during your postpartum time! Your provider will tell you when you can go back to regular exercise or driving.
Sleep deprivation is a real thing. It is important for you to get as much rest as you can in order to stay healthy both physically and emotionally. If you have support, ask them to help out with caring for the baby so you can get some rest. Consider sleeping arrangements like a side sleeper so baby can safely sleep right next to you.
Creating a system of support for those first weeks can give you a sense of comfort and control as you adjust to parenthood. Having someone to focus on YOU and your care gives you the space to focus on you and your little one. Family, friends, or a postpartum doula can help with things like meal prep, taking care of pets, laundry, or keeping the kitchen clean. Or you can do those things while your support takes care of the baby! A great question to ask is “What support would make me feel good during my recovery”? Then implement those things into your care at home.
Once again, congratulations on your little one! May you have a smooth and peaceful postpartum period, and if there are a few bumps in the road, take a deep breath…
You’ve got this!
Written by: Lois Perks