What to Expect Postpartum
What is postpartum anyway? Technically, postpartum is defined as the period of time from delivery until the reproductive tract has returned to the normal non-pregnant condition, usually around six weeks. However, most women don't feel "normal" by six weeks after delivery. The emotional and physical transitions often take months of adjustment. Below you'll find several tips to help guide you through your postpartum recovery.
Getting through the first week:
Wow, I’m sore! Of course, that baby didn't birth itself! You may have aching muscles after delivery. Your arms, back, and legs will likely be sore after all the hard work you did! Get rest, take a bath, and schedule a massage a few days after delivery. If you’re interested in healing soothe these muscles naturally you can try magnesium oil to help reduce the aches and pains.
It still hurts down there. You might be tender even if you didn't tear. Taking an herbal bath, sitz bath, using ice packs and a peri bottle while urinating can help reduce swelling and improve healing. If you want herbal supplements to aid in perineal healing check out Earth Mama herb.
More Contractions?! After having a baby, your uterus will continue to contract or “involute” as it returns to its pre-pregnancy size. You may have cramps or contractions for up to 72 hours after delivery. These contractions increase with breastfeeding or pumping due to the release of a hormone called oxytocin. Having a full bladder can make you contract more, so make sure to use the bathroom frequently. Although cramping after childbirth can be uncomfortable, know that it prevents you from bleeding too much. You can use hot packs or take pain relievers (Ibuprofen or Tylenol) to help with the pain. Avoid aspirin as it can thin out your blood and make you bleed heavier.
Shakes and quakes! Many women find they sweat profusely and get the chills following the birth of their child. These symptoms are due to hormonal changes and are your body's way of eliminating extra fluids that have accumulated throughout the pregnancy. As you sweat, your body cools down. This temperature drop can lead to chills. You may also notice frequent urination. This is another way your body rids itself of excess fluid. Keep the temperature in your room comfortable and drink plenty of water or tea. These symptoms will go away within a few days!
When will the bleeding stop? It’s normal to experience bleeding for 2-6 weeks after delivery. Bleeding after having a baby occurs as the endometrium (lining of the uterus) sheds. The more toned your uterus is, the shorter your bleeding will be. Moderate to heavy exercise can increase bleeding as well, so monitor your activity level depending on the heaviness of bleeding. You may notice some clots when you stand up after you’ve been sitting. This is OK as long as you only have a few, and they are no larger than a golf ball.
Making it through the weeks that follow:
Take a nap. Or two. Allow yourself time. Let your family and friends cook and clean while you and baby recover and bond even after the first week. Your body (and mind!) will be going through many transitions during this time and allowing yourself rest can help aid a speedy recovery. Although medically speaking, your body typically returns to its non-pregnant state in 6 weeks, most women report not feeling physically or emotionally themselves for 3-8 months after having a baby. Gently finding your new normal can reduce stress, help your body heal, and promote bonding with the new little one.
What happened to my body?! You may feel like your insides are going to fall out after having a baby! It’s normal to feel a strange empty sensation after birth since there is less pressure on your diaphragm. Your pregnant belly will reduce in size over the next few weeks to months. With moderate exercise, a healthy diet, and breastfeeding/pumping your body will regain its shape. Amelia Barnes offers online yoga courses for mom’s postpartum to help repair abdominal diastasis (separation of abdominal muscles) and strengthen your pelvic floor.
Eating for Two? What does that mean? Mama nutrition. Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, making sure you maintain good nutrition is key to easing constipation, feeling energized, and getting back into shape. Continue taking your prenatal vitamin and stay hydrated! Below are a handful of recipes to support good digestion and milk supply: