How to Recover from Having a Baby (Postpartum Recovery)
So You've Just Had a Baby? Congratulations! ...Now What?
Having a baby is a glorious, but also stressful time. You have just been through a life-changing experience, and now begins the process of recovery. What nobody really tells you is, sometimes it takes a while! And it can be frustrating, tiring, and draining both emotionally and physically. But I'm living proof that you can make it through! Here, I will explain some do's and don'ts that will help you through this time period, and may even speed your postpartum recovery. I will also tell you about some products you can buy that will help you out a lot as well!
First things first... Get Help if You Can
It's a great idea to have a plan in place before you have the baby, about who will be available to help you once the little bundle of joy arives. However, even if you didn't enlist any help prior to now, it's not too late.
Why not ask your mom, mother-in-law, or a beloved sister or aunt to come over at least a couple of times during the first few weeks? Guys can help, too! Grandpas love to spend time with their grandbabies, and uncles and brother-in-law's can be a great asset! It really helps a lot to have family around who can hold, rock, or even feed the baby for you, while you do other things like take a shower, brush your teeth, or take a nap! Being able to do these things will make you feel like a human again! And trust me, you'll never take a hot shower by yourself for granted again!
If you don't have family around, see if there is a trusted friend, or even a kind person from your church, who would be willing to come over and help you out. It is absolutely vital that you get some assistance in the first few weeks, in my opinion. You have just been through a physically and emotionally draining experience (labor and delivery). Give yourself a much needed break from time to time, and don't be afraid to ask for help! Others do not see it as a weakness - in fact, they understand and are probably glad to assist someone in need.
Don't Do Anything Too Strenuous... No Lifting Anything Heavier than Your Baby (Until Doc Says it's OK)
That's right... you shouldn't be lifting that heavy carseat. Don't you dare carry that stroller up the stairs by yourself!
For the first few weeks postpartum, you are not to lift anything heavier than your baby, due to the fact that you are most likely still bleeding (if you had a vaginal delivery), or for a C-section, your incision is still healing.
If you do decide to do more than you're ready to, it can really set you back. I speak from personal experience when I say this! I thought I was almost done bleeding, so I started over-exerting myself by taking my baby on outings, lifting him in his carseat up and down the stairs and into my car. Big mistake! My bleeding got worse, and it ended up taking me longer to recover.
Don't make the mistake I did. Wait until you stop bleeding completely before you do anything strenuous. Make sure you have your doctor's OK before getting too ambitious! Your body will thank you for it.
Now... About the Products!
Tucks pads were... a... lifesaver! If you think this is TMI (too much information), forgive me, but I'm going to go into some detail here on why!
Tucks pads contain witch hazel, which is very soothing when you are in lots of discomfort in the netherly region! Place a couple of them on your pad, and it will be very comforting to you as you continue to heal down there. They will most likely give you some at the hospital, but you will probably need more, so be sure to stock up.
I've also heard from many friends who have had babies recently that Preparation H is very helpful as well. I personally never tried it, but I'm sure they're probably right. You just apply some to your pad and it has the same cooling and soothing effect as the Tucks pads. It also aids in helping you heal faster. Of course, if you have hemorrhoids, which you can also possibly develop due to childbirth, you would definitely benefit from using the Preparation H in that case as well.
Squirt Bottle... Sounds so Simple, but it Helps!
OK, I know this is something we don't usually talk about. But that's precisely why I made this hub. After having a vaginal delivery, there's lots of...stuff... coming out down there. Not only are you bleeding from your perineum, but remnants from the placenta are still coming out, etc. It will all get flushed out eventually, even though it seems like it takes forever at the time!
So, my point is... Having this squirt bottle will be a lifesaver to you. When you use the loo, you can just squirt a little warm water on yourself, basically creating your own bidet toilet experience (if you don't know what that is, look it up! They have them in Europe). It hurts sometimes when you go as well, since you are still recovering, so the warm water is soothing.
Soften Up Your BM's... Your Bum Will Thank You!
Once again, some people may be grossed out by this, but I don't care. These are things I wish someone had told me, and if you are looking to save yourself some trouble, you'll grab this before you come home from the hospital!
After you have a baby vaginally, for some reason, your stools can be very hard, causing very painful BM's (bowel movements). Breastfeeding also tends to sap all the liquid from your body, so you may need a stool softener at least for a few days for that reason as well.
However, you should always check with your doctor first before using this product, and you should definitely say something if you find yourself using it continually, as it is only supposed to be for temporary relief. Eating prunes and drinking prune juice, and drinking lots and LOTS of water is also super helpful!
Most Important of All... Don't Rush Your Recovery
Most importantly, realize that recovery takes time, and you are not going to feel 100% overnight. Give yourself plenty of time to get back into the swing of daily life and used to your new "normal" as a new mom! Don't turn away any help that's offered to you, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it as well. Enjoy your baby, and make sure to take lots of pictures. Feeling "out of it" is totally normal for a while, so don't expect to bounce back right away. Take it easy and pretty soon, this will all be a distant memory. For now, just take it one day at a time!