While you can’t know exactly how you’ll feel after childbirth, postpartum recovery shouldn’t be a mystery. You will experience things in your own unique way, but while you’re recovering after having a baby, the following information may be helpful.
1. You’ll Find Ways to Ease Pain and Discomfort
You are going to have aches and pains after childbirth. Going to the bathroom at first may be difficult and you may be constipated. If you’re nursing, your breasts may ache and your nipples may chap or crack. While some things can’t be avoided, there are ways to cope with pain and discomfort during postpartum recovery. The following are helpful to many women:
- Postpartum recovery belts
- Peri bottle
- Sitz baths
- Lanolin cream
- Stool softener
- Heating pads
- Ice packs
- Witch hazel pads
- Lidocaine spray
2. You Can Expect The Unexpected
You may have done a lot of reading and research during your pregnancy to help prepare for your new baby. However, there are some things you can’t prepare for. That’s because each woman recovers a little differently and there is no way you can learn about every little thing that may happen.
3. Your Baby Will Be The Center Of Your Universe
If you just had your first baby, get ready for your entire perspective to shift. Nothing can prepare you for the amount of love you’ll have for your new baby once they’re in your arms. All of a sudden, you are going to have one thing on your mind at all times: your baby. Just make sure you take time to take care of yourself as well.
4. You Might Have A Huge Appetite
Many women find that their appetites after childbirth are larger than usual. While you should definitely listen to your body and feed it when you’re hungry, make sure you still aim to eat a balanced diet that will provide good nutrition rather than relying solely on convenience foods. This will help keep energy levels up. And work more fiber into your diet to help with constipation.
5. It Takes Time For Your Body To Recover
No matter how your baby was delivered, your body will need time to recover. Vaginal births may require less healing time than C-sections but how long it takes varies from person to person. You can’t expect your body to bounce back to how it was prior to childbirth overnight.
6. You’re Going to Be Tired
During the postpartum period, you are going to be tired. Your body is going to be healing from childbirth (no matter how you deliver) and you may be unable to sleep for long periods of time. So, just be prepared to be sleep deprived for a little while and try to get in as much rest as you can.
7. Walking Can Help With Discomfort and Fatigue
While you may not be able to exercise much at the beginning of your postpartum recovery, you should keep moving as much as possible following childbirth. Try to start walking a bit as soon as you are cleared to do so. It can help relieve symptoms like fatigue, constipation, and gas. Increasing your circulation and improving muscle tone can also help speed up recovery and exercise may help with your mood.
8. There Is a Difference Between Postpartum Depression & Baby Blues
It’s important to know the difference between experiencing the normal postpartum ups and downs and suffering from postpartum depression.
Most new moms experience something that’s often referred to as the “baby blues.” Women with baby blues may experience mild anxiety, irritability, or feelings of depression. Other symptoms include trouble sleeping and feeling weepy for no reason. The baby blues can last a few days or up to two weeks and usually resolve without treatment.
If you have more severe symptoms that last longer, then you may be struggling with postpartum depression (PPD). According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), postpartum depression commonly starts 1-3 weeks after childbirth. Postpartum depression may cause symptoms like:
- Lack of emotion
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Anxiety or worry
- Feelings of guilt
- Feeling continuously overwhelmed
- Difficulty sleeping, even when the baby is sleeping
- Decreased appetite
If you think you have symptoms of PPD, contact your healthcare provider immediately or contact a helpline such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) helpline at 800-950-6264 or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at 800-662-4375.
9. You Need To Keep Your Postpartum Appointments
Keeping your postpartum appointments with your physician or midwife is important. They will ensure you are healing properly and check in on how you are doing emotionally. They can also give you references or resources if you need extra help. For instance, you may benefit from having a postpartum midwife to help you through recovery.
10. You Can Do This!
There’s no getting around the fact that you will be exhausted, uncomfortable, and emotional during points of your postpartum recovery. Go easy on yourself and remember that you won’t know how to do everything out of the gate but you can learn. And if you need help, always ask for it!
The Certified Nurse-Midwives of City of Oaks Midwifery provide comprehensive and holistic care to their patients in the Raleigh, NC area. That includes providing quality postpartum care. Call (919) 351-8253 to schedule an appointment.
*During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still seeing OB patients for regular appointments and GYN patients for appointments addressing urgent needs.
We ask that any patient with upper respiratory symptoms call our office for directions rather than coming in. We do not currently have testing capabilities and need to limit possible exposure to other patients.