5 Ways To Recover During Postpartum
“5 Ways To Recover During Postpartum” is written by Mama Hug Co-founder Catherine Sullivan.
When I brought my baby daughter home from the hospital, I was utterly unprepared for the days and weeks ahead. To the untrained eye, I had it sorted.
The pristine nursery, filled with tiny babygrows and bright white muslins was Instagram ready, while our well-stocked fridge was filled with nutritious homemade meals. Even the baby record book was neatly laid out on my bedside table, ready for daily entries about ‘my first smile’ and ‘my first bath’. I was prepared for everything… Everything that is, except what an enormous change this adorable little creature would bring to my life.
Within days of giving birth I was in anguish as I tried to breastfeed. Unbeknown to me my daughter had a posterior tongue-tie which made it extremely difficult for her to latch. Every time she smacked her lips together and began probing for sustenance (which was near constant during cluster feeds) I’d flinch and feel like a failure. It wasn’t until seven painful days later that a lactation consultant diagnosed her with a tongue-tie and scheduled in a frenotomy. By then my nipples were sore, raw and cracked.
Meanwhile I was also trying to heal ‘down below’. ‘Women have been having babies for thousands of years…’ had been trumpeted at me throughout my pregnancy, so I had done little to prepare for what lay ahead. I’m embarrassed to say I packed a pair of skinny jeans in my hospital bag not even realising I would leave the maternity ward looking like I was still five months pregnant. Likewise the first pee, the first poo and the first spray of the shower on sore nipples was all a huge shock to me.
Similarly, the exhaustion was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I remember cleaning my teeth with hair removal cream and then being completely unfazed when my husband pointed out the error… Eventually, after around eight difficult weeks normality began to resume. Unsurprisingly when I think back to that first couple of months postpartum I remember it being extremely hard. What does surprise me however, is how much harder I made it for myself. I felt guilty for asking for help. I refused to admit when I wasn’t coping and I felt like a failure when things didn’t go to plan.
What I now recognise is that I put myself last, and it didn’t serve me well. It’s like that analogy about putting on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else and I wish now I had taken that onboard because it would have made my postpartum experience so much easier. There are of course many ways you can ease the transition into new motherhood, but here are just a few of the ones I picked up along the way.
If you give birth vaginally or even by emergency C-Section, the chances are you are going to need to do some pushing, which can often result in grazes, tears and stitches around your lady bits. What’s the first pee like? A baptism of fire is one way to put it. Searing, burning agony, is another… What can you do to ease the pain? First off, invest in a peri bottle. These water-squirting miracles help to keep the area down below clean and safe from infection. The best time to use them is while peeing as this dilutes the urine reducing the burning sting often experienced. Our peri bottle of choice is the First Days Maternity Supplies Peri Bottle.
On top of this, have a bottle of perineal spray handy. The humorously named Bottoms Up by Natural Birthing Company is a top pick. Developed by midwives, this soothing bottom spray is designed to calm and heal painful grazes and tears. A little hack is to store it in the fridge for an extra cooling affect. All together now, ‘Ahhhh!
2. Get some rest
The thing your body most needs after giving birth is rest. Granted, that’s easier said than done when you have a tiny human who needs to be looked after around the clock. However, don’t sabotage your recovery by trying to do everything yourself. Put a list of chores on the fridge that visitors can help out with when they come to visit. Don’t feel bad for asking for help – it’s a fair trade. They get to coo over bub, you get your dishes done.
3. Keep yourself fueled up
A healthy diet is a great way to boost your immunity after birth and speed up your recovery. You may find you don’t have time to have a big sit down meal so instead eat little and often. Snacks that you can eat one handed (carrot sticks, granola bars and apple slices) are good options as you may find yourself with bub in one arm, lunch in the other.
4. Cut yourself some slack
You may feel desperate to regain your pre-baby body but try to go easy on yourself. It took nine months to grow the baby and it’s absolutely normal for it to take that (and then some) to lose any excess weight you may have hanging around. Of course, exercise is beneficial after childbirth, not just to strengthen and tone your muscles, but also for your mental wellbeing. Just make sure you get the go-head from your doctor or health visitor before beginning light exercise.
Breastfeeding is beautiful, but it can take time and patience before it becomes an effortless bonding experience. For that reason, make sure you have all the breastfeeding essentials to hand. We recommend a good nipple balm (our favourite is Nessa Organic Nipple SOS), a cool compress (you can’t go wrong with Lansinoh Therapearl Hot or Cold Breast Therapy), some comfortable breast pads (Mama Designs Bamboo Washable Breast Pads are the softest we’ve come across) and access to a lactation support group or digital support pack. Check out www.babykomu.co.uk.