Taking Care of Yourself During Postnatal Recovery

Your body just went through a major ordeal. It doesn’t matter if you had a vaginal or cesarean birth, it is important to take care of yourself.

Eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water to avoid constipation. Talk to your doctor about taking a stool softener if you are having trouble.

Get plenty of rest.

Getting plenty of rest is essential during postpartum recovery. Try to sleep when your baby naps and go to bed at a reasonable time each night. It is also a good idea to ask for help from family and friends when possible, so that you can get some extra rest.

It can take 4 to 6 weeks before your body returns to its pre-pregnancy state. During this time, you will likely still experience fatigue and some hormonal fluctuations.

You should not use internal sanitary products (such as tampons or menstrual cups) until you have had your six-week Postnatal recovery check, as this can cause infections. If you are experiencing emotional distress, it is important to seek support from your health care provider or a GP as soon as possible. Many women feel disappointed or traumatised by their birth experiences – and there is help available to support you.

Get plenty of water.

You’ll need plenty of water after birth, especially if you have a c-section. Try to drink eight large glasses a day of water and other fluids.

It’s also a good idea to eat plenty of food, especially fibre (fresh fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread and cereals). This may help prevent constipation, which can be quite common after having a baby. If you do get constipated, talk to your midwife or GP as they might give you a gentle laxative.

Getting lots of support after your baby’s born is important for both you and your new family. You can ask friends and relatives to help with cooking, washing and looking after the baby. You might also want to hire a cleaning service or a teen to clean the house occasionally.

Remember, everyone recovers from pregnancy and labour at different times. Be patient and don’t compare yourself to other people.

Eat a healthy diet.

The food you eat is critical for the health of both you and your baby. You’re encouraged to eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products that are low in saturated fat, trans fats and added sugars.

If you are breastfeeding, it’s especially important to eat a healthy diet to help produce enough nutritious breast milk for your baby. Nursing women need to consume an extra 500 calories each day and additional protein, calcium and fluids.

Try to eat five or more servings of fruit and/or vegetables each day. Avoid foods high in saturated fat and trans fat, such as fried potatoes and other deep-fried foods; fatty, full-fat dairy foods, such as butter, cheese and cream; and salty snacks. You should also eat enough protein-rich foods, such as beans, eggs, dairy, fish and lean meats, to meet your needs.

Get plenty of sleep.

While you’ll be busy with a new baby, getting plenty of sleep is important for both your mental and physical health. Try to sleep when your baby does, and don’t feel guilty about accepting help from family and friends with household chores and errands. It’s also a good idea to hire a neighborhood teen or a professional cleaning service to clean the house occasionally.

A regular exercise routine can help you feel healthier and stronger after delivery. However, avoid any exercises that put pressure on your abdomen or cause you to sit up or lie down for long periods of time.

Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program or a group fitness class after you give birth. It’s usually a good idea to wait until you have your 6-week postnatal check.

Stay active.

Regular exercise can relax you, make you feel fitter and more energetic and may help prevent postnatal depression. You can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel able, for example walking and tummy exercises like crunches. It is usually a good idea to wait until you have had your 6-week postnatal check before attempting any high impact exercise, such as aerobics.

It is a good idea to avoid any exercise that involves you lying on your back, such as planks and mountain climbers, until your abdominal muscles have returned to their pre-pregnancy strength. Also, you should not bend down from your waist to pick things up off the floor unless you are supported – bending at the knees is better for your back.

Many new mums enjoy joining a postnatal exercise class, especially when they can bring their baby along too! Ask your health visitor about local classes or talk to a trainer at fitness app Aaptiv. Be sure to tell any instructors you have a new baby and that your body is still recovering.

Take care of yourself.

You may find your hormones are all over the place after giving birth. Try to listen to your body and respect its needs. If you aren’t feeling well, talk to your doctor or obstetric care provider about how you’re feeling.

It’s also important for women to attend their 6-week postnatal check. At this point, the care provider will examine your tummy and perineum (or incision site for caesarean) and ask how you’re adjusting to life with your new baby.

Some women experience the baby blues, a period of mild depression after the birth of a child. The blues usually occur in the first week and last for two weeks but it’s important to be able to differentiate between these feelings and postnatal depression which can be much more serious. If you’re having any problems, contact Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak to a maternal health nurse.