How to Recover After Childbirth
Childbirth is a beautiful and exciting thing, but can also be long, painful, and exhausting. Right after your baby is born, you have a burst of adrenaline and excitement when you hear your baby cry. You are so focused on looking at and admiring your baby that you may feel like you are on top of the world. Once the epidural wears off and things start slowing down, your feeling of being on top of the world is replaced with tiredness and some pain. Here are some ideas for ways to recover after childbirth.
Get all the rest you can while in the hospital. If you had the baby in the hospital, enjoy all the help and rest you can get before you have to go home again. Many people are ready to go home the next day so they can recover in a familiar and more comfortable environment. They usually feel more comfortable being in their own home than in a hospital. Have your spouse stay with you overnight. He can accompany the baby when the nurses take him out to have tests done, if they even take him or her out of your room. While they take the baby out, you can be resting.
Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. After having the baby, you’ll probably feel some cramping. If it is not your first child, the cramping will probably be stronger and make you feel very uncomfortable. The nurses can give you either acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but usually give you the latter. If the ibuprofen isn’t helping very much, they can give you something a little stronger. Nursing causes your uterus to contract, causing it to go back to its normal size. Make sure you empty your bladder before nursing. If your bladder is full, your uterus will have to contract even harder, causing more pain. It won’t contract as hard if your bladder is empty because it has more room and isn’t pushing against anything.
Take a shower. After childbirth and after your epidural wears off, if you had one, take a nice long, warm shower. Nothing helps speed the recovery along like relaxation. Take some time to yourself and have your spouse or a nurse look after your little one. Enjoy the peace and quiet and your warm shower!
Help from family and friends. If possible, have family (i.e. mom, stepmom, sisters, aunts, etc) or friends help you out after the baby comes. It’s very helpful to have someone help you cook and clean while you are recovering and trying to figure your new baby out and how to adjust to a new lifestyle. If you go to church, you can request to have meals provided for a couple of days after the baby comes. Sometimes the women at your child’s preschool or play group will volunteer to bring you meals. Remember, if women from church, preschool, or play group bring you meals, be sure to return the favor in the future!
Use tucks pads. After all the pushing, stretching, and pressure from childbirth, you will be sore and probably swollen. You will use pads for the bleeding that comes after childbirth. Bleeding usually lasts anywhere from two to four weeks. You can help the soreness or swelling by placing two or three Tucks pads on the pad. The witch hazel helps to relieve some of the comfort.
Cleansing after using the bathroom. When you urinate, do not wipe with toilet paper for the first day or so. You will be given a small squirt bottle at the hospital. Fill it with warm (not cold or scalding hot) water. After you’ve urinated, squeeze the water on that region. If you use toilet paper, don’t wipe – pat the area instead. It will be very tender and you don’t want to snag toilet paper on any stitches.
Take baths. Baths can help you to relax and also help with the soreness and swelling created by the childbirth process. Avoid hot tubs because they are not drained after each usage and you are more susceptible to infections. You can enjoy the hot tub after six weeks or according to your doctor or midwife’s advice.
Drink lots of water. If you had swelling in your pregnancy, it’s not going to go away if your body is dehydrated. Be sure you drink a glass of water every time you nurse or feed your baby. Your body holds in water, causing the swelling, whenever it thinks it’s dehydrated. If you drink lots of water, your body won’t think it’s dehydrated and the swelling will go away.
Ward off the baby blues. Learn about postpartum depression and the baby blues. Be sure to open up the blinds and windows in your house. Let the light in! Play soft uplifting music if you start feeling down. Talk to your spouse, family, or friends about how you are feeling. Often times, it helps to just talk about it. Your spouse, family, and friends will be there to support you. If you are feeling down, you can also talk to your doctor or midwife.