Giving birth is like sprinting a marathon. Or getting hit by a car.
Analogies aside, childbirth a strenuous event that your body needs to recover from.
Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, your body still did something miraculous, and needs to be given credit for the hard work it did.
Here are 11 ways to help you have a quick recovery after a vaginal delivery.
1. Use an ice pack for at least 24 hours
Your vagina just opened up to the size of a bagel to get a human being out. Expect a decent amount of soreness and swelling.
Using an ice pack helps to reduce swelling, which in turn reduces soreness.
You can place an ice pack on the outside of your underwear, make DIY padsicles, or get these disposable ice pack + pads.
2. Accept the meds
When you leave the hospital, your doctor will send you home with a few prescription painkillers. Take them.
This isn’t the time to be a superhero and refuse all medication. You just proved that you’re a superhero by pushing a baby out of your vagina.
When my first daughter was born at home, my midwife didn’t give me any pain medication, and I was too loopy to think of it on my own. It was miserable. My entire body hurt for ages. Part of that was from hemorrhaging, but that’s a story for another day.
When I gave birth to my second daughter in hospital, I was encouraged to take acetaminophen, and subsequently noticed a tremendous difference in my comfort level because of it.
3. Use a Peri Bottle
If you tore your perineum or had an episiotomy, your urine is going to burn your wound when you pee.
There’s a simple solution though. Use a peri bottle while you pee.
Simply fill it up with warm water, and spray while you pee. Give a little extra squirt when you’re done, and guess what- you don’t even need to wipe! You should still pat the area dry, or give it time to air dry.
4. Stool softeners
That first poop is going to be terrifying, especially if you have stitches.
After giving birth, your pelvic floor muscles are incredibly weak. This makes going #2 feel like your vagina and butt hole are about to fall out of your body simultaneously.
Now imagine bearing down on that catastrophe with stitches. Yikes. Using a stool softener keeps things moving smoothly so you don’t need to strain your already fragile lady parts.
5. Get lots of rest
I’m speaking to myself with this one. I always feel like I should be able to do normal things after I give birth, and I’m confused and devastated when I can’t.
Why is it so hard to get up and make food?
Why can’t I keep the house clean?
Why am I so exhausted when the baby is sleeping so much?
The thing is, your body is continuing to undergo massive changes for the first six weeks after you give birth.
It needs a break, and will heal considerably faster if you give it the rest it needs.
There will be plenty of demands put on you later, so take full advantage of this time by accepting all the help you can get.
6. Eat well
Your body is in desperate need of nutrients to help it recover from childbirth, and to prepare to make milk for your baby.
Eating a well balanced diet will not only help you recover faster, but help you with your milk production too.
7. Belly Binding
Regardless of how fit you were during pregnancy, your belly is going to feel like a big ‘ole blob of jell-o once that baby comes out. Your uterus is still quite large, and all of your organs are moving around.
And if you are of the 90% of women who get diastasis recti (abdominal splitting), your stomach is literally incapable of holding in your organs.
Belly binding helps to:
- Hold your organs in place
- Create a splint for your stomach, which helps it heal faster
- Bring your hips back in (if you place the band over your hips)
- Provide back support, which is especially helpful for breastfeeding
Most belly bands on the market look awkward and bulky under clothes, which is why I much prefer this corset.
Every time I wore it, people would stare at my stomach, dumbfounded by how I “lost all the baby weight” so fast.
Now that your pelvic floor has been stretched out, it’s time to get it back in shape again. If you were doing kegels before giving birth, the process will be quicker.
Strengthening your pelvic floor with kegels will make sex more enjoyable (when you’re ready), and fix urinary incontinence problems.
9. Wear big, breathable, cotton underwear
If you thought there was a lot going on down there before baby was born, just wait until after.
It’s important to keep your vag-area clean and dry to prevent bacteria growth. And if you have stitches, it’s critical.
Wearing big, breathable cotton underwear will help you hold a few giant maxi pads in place while providing as much air circulation as possible.
10. Stay hydrated
Between blood and sweat, you’re losing a lot of fluids right now.
Staying well hydrated will help with your energy level, milk production, and even that dreaded first poop.
11. Stay active, but don’t push yourself
After giving birth, it’s good to ease into exercise by beginning with short walks. Your body will feel off balance, and might even hurt a little bit.
Begin by walking around your house, and eventually move up to walking around your neighborhood.
What’s important is that you boost blood circulation and begin to improve your muscle tone.
You should not push yourself physically during this time. Your body is still recovering.
If you are excited to jump back into an old exercise routine, get the all-clear from your doctor first.
Also, expect a few major gushes of blood when you are walking around.
Managing Postpartum Expectations
The first six weeks after giving birth are filled with a lot of ups and downs.
You just brought a new life into the world, this little person that you love so much is completely dependent on you, your hormones are rapidly changing, and you don’t recognize your own body anymore.
It’s a lot. And it’s going to take you time to adjust and heal.
Two of the best things that you can do for yourself during this transitional time are to give yourself grace, and prioritize your physical recovery.
After all, the best thing that you can do for your baby is to get the help you need.
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