Tips to Help Your Postpartum Recovery

Having a child can be one of the most miraculous, wonderful things that can happen in your life, but recovering from delivery can come with its own challenges. During the first 6 weeks, pay attention to the changes happening in your body. This is a time to focus on healing and helping your body recuperate.

What to Expect During Postpartum Recovery

It's common to have many different symptoms during postpartum recovery, including:

Abdominal pain. As your uterus shrinks back to its normal size, you will feel pain in your lower belly. The pain can range from dull to sharp. Breastfeeding can sometimes trigger a chemical that causes the uterus to shrink, and this could cause more significant pain.

A heating pad or hot water bottle applied over the lower belly can help reduce symptoms. Over time, the lower abdominal pain should get better. If it doesn't, contact your doctor.

Baby blues. Seventy to 80% of new moms struggle with feeling sad after they come home with a new baby. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Hormonal changes inside the body cause symptoms of sadness and depression. Baby blues typically don't last more than a couple of weeks. If they last longer than that, contact your doctor.

Hormonal changes. Your body may go through hormonal changes that cause sweating, especially at night. Temporary hair loss is also common. When your hormones return to their normal levels, your symptoms should get better. If you suspect a fever causes your sweating, it could be a sign of an infection, and you should contact your doctor.

Soreness. Many women get soreness in the area between their vagina and anus. You may experience discomfort in this area for a couple of weeks. Applying an ice pack to this area a few times a day can help with the pain.  It may be helpful to use a squirt bottle filled with water to help keep the area clean.

Breast and nipple soreness. While you're breastfeeding, it's normal to have sore nipples and breasts. The most common reason for soreness is that the baby isn't latching correctly. A breastfeeding expert can help you and your baby find a position that works better for both of you.

Vaginal bleeding. Vaginal bleeding and discharge are common after childbirth. This is the body's way of getting rid of excess blood and tissue used to help grow your baby during pregnancy. Light spotting can last for up to 6 weeks after delivery. During this time you should stick to using sanitary pads as tampons may cause infection.

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Tips to Help Your Postpartum Recovery

A lot of healing after childbirth happens naturally, but there are a few things you can do to help your body bounce back.

Core strengthening exercises. Try exercises that target your abdominal muscles in your torso. This will help the muscles grow stronger and provide you with greater support.

Prenatal vitamins. Keep taking your prenatal vitamins while you breastfeed. They'll help restore nutrients you lost during pregnancy and support your body as it heals. Your doctor may recommend that you take other supplemental vitamins like iron and vitamin C, too.

Kegels. After giving birth, it's common to have weak pelvic floor muscles (muscles located at the bottom of the pelvis that support the bladder) that make bladder control challenging. You can help prevent leaking by doing kegel exercises.

Kegel exercises are done by tightening your pelvic floor muscles, holding tight for 3 to 5 seconds, relaxing and repeating.

Retinoid cream. Retinoid creams contain vitamin A which can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Applying some of this cream on your skin can be highly beneficial. The faster you move on this, the better, though. Once stretch marks have turned white, it might be too late.

Sex life. After you get approval from your doctor, you can get back to your sex life as soon as you feel comfortable. Take it slow and use vaginal lubrication as needed.

Get Support. As a new parent, it can be tempting to take everything on by yourself. Lean on your existing support network to get the space you need for your mental and physical health after childbirth. Family, friends, or neighbors are often willing to lend a hand so that you can take a quick nap or a walk around the block. 

Take Your Time

Bringing a new child into the world is life-changing. Take it easy on yourself and let yourself feel whatever feelings come up. It's normal to experience highs and lows over time. Remember: there is no shame in asking for help.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 28, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

American Pregnancy: “A Faster Postpartum Recovery.” 

Family Doctor: “Recovering From Delivery.” 

Hopkins Medicine: “What Really Helps You Bounce Back After Pregnancy.” 

Mayo Clinic: “Kegel exercises: A how-to guide for women.” 

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