As a mum of five kids and having had been through the recovery process a few times, I have put together a few things that helped me in the recovery post childbirth. Below is my ultimate guide to recovering after a vaginal birth. Some of the points may be seem obvious but if you’re anything like me and lose any ability of rational thinking after having a baby it is a good resource to have on hand.
The weeks that follow childbirth are sometimes referred to as the fourth trimester. It is just as important to take care of yourself in the fourth trimester as it was the three that came before. I have also added a few things that aren’t normal and when you should contact your Doctor or OBGYN for advice.
Sounds obvious right?! This is especially important with subsequent children, I have to constantly remind myself to have a lie down or sit down all the time. I am a doer and I need to get things done but this is one of the times that the dishes can wait.
I know its annoying when people tell you to sleep when baby sleeps but it really is very good advice. Even if you don’t sleep its worth just laying down and closing your eyes.
Rope in those favours and ask for help, ask nan and grandma to bring over some dinner and just spend an hour holding the baby so you can have a nap.
The word Sitz is taken from the German word ‘sitzen’ which means to sit.
A Sitz bath is a bath where you immerse your bottom and hips in water. It is commonly used to relieve discomfort caused by episiotomies, haemorrhoids, uterine cramps ans anal fissures. It is also used for bladder, urine and vaginal infections.
You can use your bath to have a Sitz bath or buy a plastic bowl that fits into your toilet. For a Sitz bath you only need a few inches of water. Do not add soap or shower gels as they are highly perfumed and could cause an irritation to an already sensitive area.
In the first week bleeding is at its heaviest I use an adult diaper, the maternity pads sold in the shops just don’t cut it during the first 7 days postpartum.
The beauty of the diaper is it wont move and catches drips from any angle, including incontinence accidents caused by not being able to get to the toilet quick enough!
After the initial heavy flow that lasts around a week you can change over to maxi pads, I use the ones with the wings that help catch any leaks.
As you get into the third week a normal pad would be sufficient for the day and a night time pad for overnight.
After a vaginal delivery most of us will be suffering with bruises and swelling. A natural and simple yet effective remedy for relief is the use of an ice pack.
After my second baby was born the nurse gave me a strange looking maxi pad shaped ice pack to pop inside my underwear, they were amazing! I would use them every so often to help reduce the inflammation. My doctor recommended I cover them with a soft cotton cloth and icing for 10-15 minutes every hour.
USE MEDICATED WITCH HAZEL FOR HAEMORRHOIDS
A haemorrhoid (also known as piles) is a painful swelling of a vein in the rectum. Many women experience haemorrhoids in pregnancy or postpartum due to internal pressure, a large rush of hormones, constipation and pushing during delivery. Symptoms include bleeding after a bowel movement, rectal pain, itching and being swollen around the anus.
Witch hazel is a natural anti inflammatory which can help relieve itching and pain which are the two main symptoms of haemorrhoids. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties it can also alleviate and reduce swelling. Witch hazel is also known to be an astringent from deciduous trees which helps contract the tissue to reduce bleeding.
Using witch hazel on a maternity pad could really help alleviate some of the conditions associated with haemorrhoids, coupled with childbirth it really can be painful and uncomfortable. You could also try keeping the witch hazel in the refrigerator and putting it on cotton balls and applying to the affected area.
APPLYING HEAT FOR AFTER PAINS
The cramps you get post childbirth are known as after pains, these are simply contractions of your uterus to get back to its pre-pregnancy size also known involution.
When a baby is breastfed Oxytocin is released, this helps your uterus contract quicker. Normally you don’t feel them after your 1st baby. I however found with my subsequent children the pains got worse with the afterpains, after my fifth baby they felt exactly like contractions and the pain in my uterus would be excruciating. Luckily for me it does subside with the more I breastfeed.
I used a hot water bottle to alleviate the pain much in the same way you would with menstrual cramps. You can also use a hot microwavable beanbag or a heat patch on my back as I found much like labour the pain would be in my uterus and in the small of my back.
Disposable panties are lightweight briefs that are only used once and then thrown away.
Disposable undies are a must have after birth helping to keep your maternity pad in place and not having to worry about ruining your underwear. Disposable undies are great for the first 7-10 days when bleeding is at its heaviest.
I remember with my first child there wasn’t much on the market and when I tried the disposable ones, I felt like I was wearing a big loose flapping piece of mesh on my bottom that would no way be able to hold a pad in place, it made me feel so uncomfortable that I just used normal panties which I had to toss once the bleeding had stopped.
Recently there is so much choice on the market. You can buy disposable panties that are like shorts or ones that are full briefs, it all depends on your personal preference. The disposable underwear that is now available are strong, hygienic and have added support. They now have elastic around the waist and legs ensuring a comfortable and secure fit.
TIPS FOR THOSE SUFFERING FROM CONSTIPATION
Lots of factors can contribute to why you are suffering from constipation after childbirth. Your stomach has stretched during childbirth and those same muscles are the ones needed to actually poop, your bowel may also have endured the same fate and may take a little while to get back to how it functioned previously.
After childbirth your poor bum has been through an ordeal and many moms have a fear of pooping for the first time and this fear can actually lead to constipation.
Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water, you need to not only replace all the fluid lost during labour but also need it to soften your stool. Try and eat lots of whole grains, green veg and fresh fruit. Even a fibre supplement could help here.
If you feel you are constipated then use a stool softener such as prunes, milk of magnesia and aloe Vera juice these natural remedies can prevent bad from worse. If none of the above work then contact your doctor who can prescribe something medicated to ease your symptoms.
Light exercise, taking an easy stroll and just moving may be enough to get things going but please don’t overdo it. Try and do your Kegel exercises as much as you can even if you can’t feel it just keep at it.
Try not to strain, let nature do its thing and don’t push too hard as it could lead to or aggravate haemorrhoids.
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