- June 29, 2016
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Postpartum Recovery and What You Need to Know
No matter the circumstances, recovering from birth isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. Many factors add up to create quite a complex recovery! There are general symptoms to expect after every birth, whether vaginal or cesarean delivery. For instance, being tired; not just from labor and delivery, but dealing with a brand new baby and his/her needs! Read here for a few suggestions on how to combat this!
Another universal symptom, and my least favorite are the post labor contractions. I swear they hurt just as bad as the last few contractions I had before getting an epidural! They say these get worse with each child, and so far, I most definitely agree! I understand that it’s the body’s way of trying to shrink things back down to normal (ish) size, but I still can’t get over how painful it is! Especially if breastfeeding is involved, as it triggers these contractions for the first few days, making breastfeeding even more tricky! To help with the effectiveness of these contractions, something like a Belly Corset is fantastic, as it helps restore the tummy back to its original shape. To read more about corsets, take a look here.
Swelling is another thing everyone deals with. While pregnant, our bodies hold on to excess water and it takes a few days, or sometimes weeks, for the swelling to go down–especially if underlying conditions like preeclampsia are involved. Once it begins to go down, prepare for plenty of bathroom breaks and a lot of sweating! Along with swelling, stretch marks and itchy skin are also common. I used belly balm all through my pregnancy to help with itchiness and elasticity and I have loved it just as much afterwards as well!
Breastfeeding is its own ballgame completely! Read here for a great resource for battling nipple soreness, and to learn about some convenient items that can help ease discomfort.
Not everybody tears while giving birth vaginally, but it is most definitely a common occurrence! Tearing is measured in stages: a stage four-tear reaches all the way to the anus, and three, two, and one are progressively closer to the vagina. Obviously, recovery will depend on the severity of the laceration as well as the amount of (dissolvable) stitches involved. But no matter the intensity, or even if there’s no tear at all, there are several things that can and should be done to help ease discomfort and pain around the perineum!
Ice Packs are commonly used during the first few hours after delivery to help reduce swelling. They also help numb your body for temporary pain relief. I always ask for them until my epidural wears off, I figure if it’s helpful, I might as well make use of them while I don’t have to deal with the discomfort of it being so cold! Of all the thousands of technological advances, it totally makes me laugh that ice packs in my hospital are still made by putting ice inside of a surgical glove!
Fridets are a wonderful item to help out with cleaning up. Obviously, wiping or touching of any kind sounds like zero fun and really shouldn’t be done, so warm water is the perfect solution to clean up after using the restroom. With my first babe, of all the things to forget at the hospital, I left the squirt bottle contraption they gave me…Boy, do I wish I would’ve known about Fridababy at the time!
Topical anesthetics are often available at the hospital. You can put them on top of a pad to rest against the skin and help with pain! It’s also nice and cool, which feels incredibly soothing. Speaking of cooling, Tucks Witch Hazel Pads are my favorite when it comes to postnatal care. Placing 2 or 3 on a clean pad is a great way to ease discomfort. A quick word of advice–pay attention to how the kind nurses combine all of the materials! Pad, icepack, tucks, medicine –it’s quite the compilation!
Stool softeners. Trust me on this, there’s a reason why these are recommended and prescribed after vaginal births. Just take them. It takes a while for everything to get back to normal, and bowel movements are no exception! Being constipated, while everything is trying to heal, is the last thing you want!
Pelvic rest is a pretty easy direction to follow. But don’t forget that this encompasses a few different things: no intercourse, tampons, or strenuous exercise for at least six weeks! This gives you plenty of time to recover without any backtracking, and it also allows the doctor to inspect the untouched area at a six-week postnatal appointment. Hopefully your doctor will give you the green light to continue regular activity!
Tailbone discomfort is common. Often, they become broken or bruised during the pushing process. I don’t remember my tailbone hurting much with my first, but with my second (with exponentially less pushing), I had a lot of pain for a few weeks afterwards. With both recoveries, it took a while for my hips to remember how to work! No discomfort really, but an odd loose feeling when walking or maneuvering my lower body.
For added relief on top of any medications being taken, a warm bath is a great way to relax these sensitive areas. Bath salts, soaps, and bubbles of any kind are NOT recommended for the first few weeks in case of irritation or infection. But the best part about post-labor baths? Crank up the heat because there’s no longer a non-temperature regulating baby inside! So there are no temperature regulations in place.
One great thing we have going for us while dealing with postpartum recovery is the overwhelming and all encompassing love and responsibility we have for our new babies. Of course we’ll be in pain or at least uncomfortable for a period of time, but I don’t think there’s a better distraction for us than our sweet babes. A woman’s body is amazing, that’s for sure!
Featured Image PC: @lacy_joy
After earning her Bachelors Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, Jamie received a crash-course in motherhood. Though she is relatively new to this gig, and it certainly isn't always easy, she couldn't be more in love with her job as a stay-at-home mom. Somehow she has managed to keep her head above water and occasionally finds the time to read & write!