Giving birth is one of the most incredible things but also one of the most difficult and stressful things you will ever do. Whether you have a vaginal birth or a cesarean, recovery takes time. It’s tough to get back to feeling well again, especially when you now have a baby to look after and you’re running low on sleep. Not everyone knows what to expect after giving birth, which can make it even harder. When you don’t know what’s normal and what’s not, you can feel anxious and distressed about the changes to your body. After having your baby, paying attention to recovery advice can give you reassurance.
Understand Postpartum Healing
Your body goes through a lot of changes when you have a baby. In fact, your body is unlikely to be exactly the same as your pre-pregnancy body again. With so many things going on, it’s not always easy to know what’s normal and what might be something to worry about. That’s why it’s a good idea to educate yourself about postpartum healing and what to expect. You might learn some things from doctors, nurses or midwives. But it’s also smart to do your own research. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources and avenues for support.
Give Yourself Time
Healing from giving birth takes time, no matter what type of birth you had. At least the first six weeks after birth are generally considered to be a recovery period. Although it can be hard for some people to get the time off, not working for these first six weeks is really the best thing for your body and for your mental health. Ideally, you should have longer to rest, recover, and adjust to being a new parent. Try not to push yourself too hard and realize that you need to give your body a realistic timeline to recover.
Rest as Much as You Can
The idea of rest when you have a newborn baby might seem laughable. But it’s important to try and get as much rest as you can after giving birth. Not only is your sleep being interrupted by your baby, but your body is still recovering and needs rest to heal. One thing that can help is to focus on what matters most and make sure you’re not holding yourself to really high standards. Sometimes you might have to forget cleaning the house or cooking dinner in favor of allowing yourself the time you need to rest.
Know the Signs of Mental Health Problems
One of the things to look out for after you have had a baby is how the birth and being a new parent can affect your mental health. Between 10% and 20% of women in the US experience a form of clinical postpartum depression, beyond the usual “baby blues” that most experience. As well as depression, it’s also possible to experience postpartum anxiety or even psychosis or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Previous mental health issues can affect this, but even those who have not had mental health issues before can find themselves dealing with something after having a baby.
Think Carefully About Addressing a Bad Experience
A poor birth experience can be traumatizing. If it results in injury to you or your baby or leaves you feeling upset and distressed, you might wonder whether you can seek any kind of recourse. The right route might be to speak to a cerebral palsy attorney or birth injury attorney who can discuss whether you might have a legal case for medical malpractice. However, you might not want to rush into this. While being aware of the statute of limitations, if there is one, it can be best to wait for a little until you feel ready to make any moves.
Keep Doctor’s Appointments
Getting the right medical care after having a baby is essential. When you make appointments with doctors or other members of your medical care team, it’s important to make sure that you keep them. It ensures you can keep track of your physical healing and also provides you with an opportunity to bring up any concerns that you might have, whether they relate to your physical or mental health. It’s not always easy to make it to appointments when you have a new baby and you’re busy, but it’s essential to get the right care for both you and your baby.
Make Your Diet Healthy
A healthy diet can make a big difference when you’re recovering from the birth of your baby. It can help to keep your digestive system regular, which is definitely helpful after you’ve given birth. It also ensures you’re getting all of the essential nutrients that you need and, if you’re breastfeeding, it gives your baby important nutrients too. Make sure you get plenty of fiber and that you’re eating lots of complex carbohydrates to give you the energy that you need.
Try to Keep Active
You might not be back in the gym as soon as you’ve given birth, but trying to keep moving around is a good idea. The most important thing is that you talk to your doctor about when you can start exercising and what you can do so that you know what’s safe. They can recommend activities that you can do and let you know what might be a bit too strenuous. Walking around is a good way to get moving, giving you a gentle form of exercise that your baby can join in with too (whether you wear your baby or take a stroller).
Ease Pain and Discomfort
There are multiple ways you can treat the pain and discomfort that you might feel after having your baby. Standard painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) are usually safe to take. You can also use ice packs on areas that hurt, and some people find that witch hazel pads are useful to use with them. Lidocaine spray is another option, and you can also benefit from using cream to treat cracked nipples.
Postpartum recovery can be tough, but you should eventually start to feel like yourself again.