Encouraging Postpartum Healing
You have worked hard growing, protecting, laboring, and birthing your baby--now is the time to enjoy meeting and bonding with your new little one. These next few weeks are a time for you to focus on your family, parenthood and letting your body heal. Your family, close friends, and/or postpartum doula should be lending helping hands with cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundering, and any other daily chores you need done while you are taking care of yourself and your baby. Here are a few helpful tips for your recovery.
Nutrition: It is important you are eating and drinking a lot! Increase your protein and iron to help your body rebuild and repair itself. Also increase your B vitamins and vitamin C. Good sources for protein are nuts, eggs, meats, dairy products, and beans with rice. Iron is found in green leafy vegetables, meats, and blackstrap molasses. B vitamins can be found in green leafy vegetables, beans, meats, and nutritional yeast. Citrus is a great source for vitamin C. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Always have a FULL glass of water within your reach to stay hydrated.
Rest: Sleep is extremely important for your physical, emotional, and mental health. Take naps during the day when your baby is sleeping and try to get eight hours of sleep within a 24 hour time period. Also, try to avoid taking on your usual household chores for a few weeks--the more rest you get in the beginning of your postpartum time, the better healing and energy level you will have later on. Support: It takes a village to raise a child. That village should be your hands and feet to take care of your home too. Every visitor should help with laundry, dishes, meals, grocery shop, snacks, holding the baby while you shower and/or nap, or be a listening ear. It is helpful to have a list of chores a visitor can help do while they are visiting.
Engorgement: Around day 3 your milk will come in. Your breasts will feel very full and heavy. Feeding your baby will help release the fullness by removing the milk. A hot shower will help your milk letdown and you can hand express to relieve the fullness. After a couple days, your body will regulate the proper amount of milk your baby needs while breastfeeding.
Fatigue: Sleep, sleep, sleep, and eat! When your baby is sleeping, so should you! Your normal sleep schedule will be different because of your baby’s sleep-nurse-awake cycle. Whenever you can get a nap in, do so and let your family and friends take care of the household chores so you can nap with your baby. This will drastically improve your healing time. Also, make sure you are eating often. It takes more calories to feed your baby than it did to grow your baby. Have high protein snacks readily available for you to grab.
Afterpains: This feels like constant contractions and cramping. It most common if this is not your first baby and more noticeable when you are breastfeeding. To help reduce afterpains make sure to empty your bladder often, lie on your belly in the first couple days postpartum before your milk comes in, use a heating pad on your abdomen. Avena Sativa tincture can be used or IB Profen. Afterpains usually stop after 3 or 4 days.
Sore Perineum: This can be alleviated with rest, plenty of water and good food, vitamin C, ice packs and sitz baths 2-3 times a day. By the end of the first week this should be significantly better or completely gone.
Burning with Urination: Small lacerations and tears can cause burning when you urinate. It is helpful to have a peri-bottle that you can use to squirt warm water on those areas to keep urine off of those spots. You can make a tea from your sitz bath herbs and use in your peri-bottle too! Constipation: You may not feel like pooping in the first few days after having your baby. Stay hydrated, eat foods with fiber, and drink a little prune juice to help keep your bowels moving and know it is normal to feel a little nervous about your first bowel movement after birth. You will be just fine. You can do counter-pressure on your perineum with a gauze pad when you are having a bowel movement to help alleviate any pressure you may feel.
Hemorrhoids: Ice packs, sitz baths, witch hazel, raw potato compresses, and warm water compresses can help alleviate the pain of hemorrhoids. Increase your fiber and drink some prune juice so you are not straining to have a bowel movement and irritating your hemorrhoids. These usually clear up within a few weeks of birth.
Baby Blues: Your hormones are in fluctuation during this time. It is completely normal to feel tearful when your milk comes in. Let yourself cry and surround yourself with friends and family that will be supportive and always willing to listen to your feelings. This time of tears does not last forever and usually is gone around the first week. You may also experience “milk brain” where you are a little more fuzzy mentally--this is normal.
General Aches and Pains: You just used every muscle in your body during labor and birth. Rest and be kind to yourself. Don’t rush into your usual schedule and routine--the more you rest in the first two weeks, the better you will recover and feel later on in the postpartum time. Baths, cool compresses, massage, vitamin C, Tiger Balm and echinacea will help relieve sore muscles and backpain.