Firstly, let’s explore why taking care of ourselves after childbirth is important. It’s quite simple really, pregnancy, childbirth and looking after a newborn is demanding upon the body and the mind. Looking after ourselves well postpartum will promote the recovery process, and the sooner you start to feel more like you again, the better you will feel both physically and emotionally and help you to have the optimal start to family life.
We often hear about how hard the physical and emotional recovery from childbirth can be, so we want to help you prepare for the realities of your postnatal recovery.
When you are caring for a newborn, you may feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to spare some precious time for yourself, but we know how essential this is as part of your recovery programme.
Regardless of the type of birth you have had, your body has done something amazing, but now needs you to take extra care to help with the recovery process.
So, believe that investing in yourself, not only for you, but for everyone else too. Here are the short-term and long-term benefits to prioritising your care after childbirth:
Straight after birth postnatal self-care is:
- A warm soak in the bath to help a sore, swollen perineum, soothe aching, stretched muscles, or ease a healing caesarean section wound
- Gentle stretches or taking time out to lie down can improve hip and back pain
- Starting regular pelvic floor exercises, as soon as you feel able to, can improve continence by strengthening your pelvic floor- there are apps available to help with this
- Gentle exercises such as simply walking and engaging your core or yoga can help separated abdominal muscles
In the long-term postnatal self-care is:
- Regaining core strength and returning to your pre-pregnancy fitness levels
- Toning your pelvic floor muscles to help with short and long-term incontinence issues and sexual satisfaction
- Taking regular time out to focus on your own interests and needs.
- Helping to maintain good mental health
We have devised a checklist to prepare for your needs after the birth of your baby, to help your road to optimal recovery after childbirth be a smoother one.
Postnatal care checklist for recovery:
- Good nutrition including plenty of soluble fibre (think fruit and veg- smoothies and soups). This will help bowel movements to pass much easier
- Good hydration. This will again help bowel movements, but also improve skin integrity, which in turn helps the healing process for soreness as well as wounds
- Taking effective pain relief. This will keep you comfortable and reduce stress through pain. It can be in the form of medication or cooling gel pads for the perineum, heat packs or hot water bottles for backache. You may want to consider soothing sprays for your perineum or nipple cream to ease soreness
- Comfortable clothes which are easy to put on and loose
- A well-fitting maternity bra and breast pads
- Pants which fit well and maternity pads
- A nursing cushion for yours and your baby’s comfort
- Making sure you make a space in the day for yourself for at least 30 minutes where you can lie down and relax or take a soothing bath to help you unwind
Postnatal care for you (30 minutes)
- Build this time into your daily routine from the start
- Ask your partner or a family member to spend a regular 30-minute time slot with baby
- Take yourself for a lie down/warm bath/shower or short walk-whatever helps you to relax best
- Stick to this routine, so you, your baby and family expect it each day
Your recovery after childbirth is a priority during the postnatal period. The better you feel, both physically and emotionally the easier the transition into family life will be, and the quicker you will regain your strength. So, never forget to make sure you are looking after yourself the best that you can.