5 Ways to Ensure Mom Has a Better Recovery After Labor
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For the 6 weeks following the delivery of your baby, you will need to carefully care for the tissue around the delivery site. While vaginal delivery is easier to recover from than a C-section, both will require gentle care and proper cleansing. As you move back into the world, there are also exercises that will help bring your body back into healthy alignment.
1. Keeping Yourself Clean
If you’ve undergone a vaginal delivery, there may have been tearing of the perineum or stitches from an episiotomy. Even if you were able to deliver naturally with no tearing or stitches, the tissue around your vaginal opening will be sore, both to the front and back.
Do your best to take multiple sitz baths early in the recovery. If you have a partner to help you, make sure that they clean the bathtub after every use; you will be sitting in the water on your very tender tissue and you want that tub spotless! Consider asking the rest of the family to use another bathroom if at all possible.
2. Reducing Inflammation at the Delivery Site
Cool perineal pads, applied for short periods of time, can do a great deal to lower the swelling and itching from any stitches you may have or just general bruising. You will likely still have some bleeding when you arrive home; cotton undies and soft cotton pads will also keep the soreness level as low as possible.
Before you deliver, get a few bottles of witch hazel and test it on your skin. Witch hazel is extremely soothing for most people and can lower irritation and pain where the stitches enter your skin. Talk to your doctor about pain management after delivery, especially if you plan to breastfeed.
3. Bladder and Bowel Considerations
Urination and defecation are going to hurt; take your time and let gravity help you relieve yourself, rather than pushing. A private bath at this point will be extremely helpful especially if you already have little ones at home.
Get yourself a peri bottle before you go into the hospital and practice at home, as best you can reach, spraying the water as you urinate. Even if you have no stitches, you may have microtears in the tissue, and those are going to hurt when urine hits them. Spraying the area with water as you urinate and patting yourself dry can keep that inflammation down.
Talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for a stool softener and having some on hand at home. You may not need it, but you’ll be much happier having it in the cupboard just in case you do.
Pushing a baby out of your body is pretty hearty exercise! However, you may find that there are exercises that actually help you heal both your delivery site and your physical alignment. Kegel exercises, particularly when paired with a peri bottle, will help strengthen your vaginal muscles and bladder control.
Exercise can do a lot to help prevent common issues that pregnant mothers may face. According to Every Mother, an online resource for pregnant women, “Diastasis recti is most common in pregnancy; studies have found that 60% of childbearing women experience some degree of it.” Exercises to repair diastasis recti will not only reduce the tummy pooch but will also strengthen your spine and support your internal organs.
There are other benefits to even the lightest of exercises. A gentle walk can help soothe your mind and force you to get some fresh air. You may also find you sleep better after some gentle exercise.
Treat yourself to a wedge pillow and practice napping on it as your pregnancy advances. Many new moms suffer from sleep apnea. Keeping your head elevated can improve your sleep, but you want to be comfortable with the position before you take your newborn baby home. Practicing your sleep position will go a long way to ensuring comfort for you and your baby when nursing and napping. This is only one of the ways you can better prepare you and your family for pregnancy.
Do invest in room darkening blinds and perhaps a white noise machine, especially if your home is in an area with a lot of traffic. Put out the word that guests who are willing to help are most welcome; you will need a baby holder when you shower at the very least.
Parents should sleep when the baby sleeps. This may mean that you spend days in your pajamas or comfy exercise gear. Make sure that family and friends who want to visit or help know that the baby’s schedule comes first. You will need to rest when the little one sleeps.
There is no shame in asking for help in your recovery. You may have folks offer to help; ask for baby holders, prepared meals, or even house cleaners. Give yourself as much time as you possibly can to heal the delivery site and get into a regular routine of rest, healthy food, and exercise.
*This article is based on personal suggestions and/or experiences and is for informational purposes only. This should not be used as professional advice. Please consult a professional where applicable.