10 Tips for Recovering from Birth

tips for recovering from birth

10 Tips for Recovering From Birth

By Allegra Gast

For months you’ve been preparing for your birth. You did a hospital tour, discussed with your midwife/OB throughout your pregnancy about your birth plans. Maybe you hired a doula and had several prenatal visits to talk about your “Ideal Birth”…and while that’s all great, how much time have you spent preparing for after delivery? How are you preparing for your recovery? Afterall, your body just went through some major trauma, no matter how you delivered.

Whether you had a vaginal or c-section delivery, that’s a lot for your body to recover from. Add sleep deprivation, a brand new baby, breastfeeding struggles, and postpartum hormones to the mix. It’s a lot.

Is there a way you can prepare for post delivery? How to recover from birth? YES! There is!

 

1. MENTALLY PREPARE


Mentally prepare for those early days of exhaustion. Not only has your body been through a lot, but you are now caring for a newborn who demands so much of your attention. Know that you will most likely either be in pain or just sore. Know that your hormones are all over the place as it tries to regulate itself, so you might be somewhat emotional. Don’t expect your body to bounce back either. Mentally prepare for this, just as you might be mentally preparing for your birth.

 

eat

2. EAT EAT EAT


No matter how you delivered your baby, you’ll need to replenish your energy and nutrient needs, which have been depleted. Whether or not you had an uncomplicated or complicated birth, your body still requires adequate nutrition to restore your energy, to help adapt your shrinking uterus, regain skin elasticity, and meet your body’s energy needs to produce breastmilk. Getting adequate protein, iron, DHA, vitamin C, zinc, and collagen are nutrients you need to focus on. Easy to digest foods like slow cooked meats, stews, soups, and cooked vegetables make it easier for your body to extract the calories and nutrients as opposed to raw foods.

 

This postpartum period is NOT a time to under eat and try to diet to bounce back to your prepregnancy weight. Your body needs these nutrients and added calories to heal and to provide energy for both yourself and to care for your newborn, as well as prevent postpartum depression.

 

3. HYDRATE!


Staying hydrated is just as important as eating well. You’ll need to replace fluids and electrolytes, which were lost during birth. If you’re experiencing swelling in your body (feet and hands are common places to have swelling), increasing your fluids can help flush out excess sodium, which reduces swelling. Staying hydrated can help with postpartum constipation and if you’re nursing, breast milk is 88% water, which demands that extra fluid from you. It won’t necessarily affect milk supply, but it will affect how you feel.

 

So staying hydrated is very important. Aim for at least 8-10+ cups a day. A few ways to make sure you’re hydrated is to watch that your urine is a pale yellow color, and you don’t have chapped lips. An easy way to remember is when baby drinks, you drink.

 

vitamins

4. CONTINUE TO TAKE PRENATAL/POSTNATAL VITAMINS


Although you might be eating a well balanced diet, continuing to take a prenatal vitamin can help replace any nutrient deficiencies. While we might strive for the perfect diet, sometimes that’s hard, so taking a vitamin can help cover any nutritional gaps. Not only are you supporting your own body, but if you’re breastfeeding, this also requires additional nutrients of you, so continuing to take your vitamins can help ensure you’re covered.

 

walk

5. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND GO FOR A WALK


Although you definitely want to take it easy and rest, taking a walk around the neighborhood, can strengthen and restore your core and pelvic floor muscles, which childbirth weakens. Your core muscles are responsible for strengthening and stabilising your pelvis when you walk, so walking helps strengthen these muscles as well as reduces the pressure in your abdominal cavity. Getting out of the house, can also help with your overall mood, since vitamin D from the sun can help prevent postpartum depression.

 

sleep

6. TRY TO SLEEP


Of course we’d like to sleep when baby sleeps, but sometimes that’s not realistic. As tempting as it is to scroll through social media and count how many “likes” you get on pictures of your new baby, this blue light can affect how much quality sleep you’re getting. Blue light has been shown to inhibit melatonin (the sleep hormone), leading to less quantity and quality sleep. Try to limit screen time, especially during those night feeds and aim to get at least two naps a day, although sleeping when baby sleeps is ideal.

 

spray

7. STOCK UP ON PERI SPRAY AND PADSICLES


Of course we’d like to sleep when baby sleeps, but sometimes that’s not realistic. As tempting as it is to scroll through social media and count how many “likes” you get on pictures of your new baby, this blue light can affect how much quality sleep you’re getting. Blue light has been shown to inhibit melatonin (the sleep hormone), leading to less quantity and quality sleep. Try to limit screen time, especially during those night feeds and aim to get at least two naps a day, although sleeping when baby sleeps is ideal.

 

support

8. USE YOUR TRIBE AND ACCEPT ANY SUPPORT


For some reason, we have this notion that we need to be supermom and bounce right back to our normal routine. This unfortunately does more damage not only our mental health, but physical health too. Accepting help and support can help you in many ways. Not only do you want to find friends and family to help you, but even professional help. Who are your lactation consultants in the area? Is there a postpartum doula? Where do the mom support groups meet? Where are the La Leche League meetings being held? Us mothers need each other. Find your tribe now, before you deliver.

 

cry

9. IT’S OKAY TO CRY AND TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS


There is so much going on after birth. So many hormones going all over the place. As your body tries to regulate and recover, you might find yourself extra emotional. While postpartum depression is serious and real, baby blues also exists. Baby blues typically occurs within the first couple days and can last up to the first 2 weeks post birth. Seek support, eat well, get out of the house, try to sleep, and talk about your feelings, as this can all help with your mood. It’s normal to have feelings of sadness, but if this persists or gets worse, you may have postpartum depression and should seek medical support.

 

10. SELF CARE BEFORE AND AFTER BIRTH


You can do this before birth, to help you feel better post birth. Get a mani/pedi before baby arrives, a prenatal massage, even get your hair done, all so you can feel better after delivery. Once baby comes along, try practicing self care. Buy yourself some new postpartum clothes, get mani/pedis with a girlfriend, and treat yourself to something nice.

 

All in all, preparing for recovery, is just as important as preparing for birth. Congratulations on your baby! Your life will change, but for the better!

allegra gast

ABOUT ALLEGRA 

Allegra Gast is a registered dietitian and international board certified lactation consultant. She is passionate about empowering moms in their nutrition and breastfeeding journey. She focuses on nutrition through the life cycle, specifically preconception to preschool nutrition, as this is the foundation for one’s health. She is a military spouse, currently stationed in Destin, Florida. Due to the military relocating their family, Allegra offers virtual 1:1 counseling through her private practice – Aloha Nutrition, which she started when stationed in Hawaii. She loves food, babies, traveling, and teaching people how to feel and live better.