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Postpartum Health: How to Care for Yourself After Giving Birth

Postpartum care requires a holistic approach that includes nurturing the physical, mental, and emotional health of not only your newborn but of yourself too. Just as taking care of your baby is a necessity, so is self-care. During the postpartum period –generally characterized as the first six weeks after childbirth, your body and mind will require some additional TLC. Here are some of our top tips for your postpartum recovery.

Post-Delivery Care

Self-care immediately after delivery focuses on healing your body. How you experienced childbirth, whether through a vaginal delivery or c-section, will determine the aftercare you’ll benefit the most from. 

Vaginal Delivery

Although vaginal delivery is the safer and healthier option for many women, there’s no denying the physical toll it takes on your body. Here are some of the common experiences women have reported after a vaginal delivery, and our tips on how to aid your recovery:

  • Soreness- If you received an episiotomy or had a vaginal tear during delivery, you’ll certainly experience soreness. Utilize a perineum water bottle (often provided to you by the hospital) to gently cleanse the area and gently dab to dry, do not wipe. Our Postpartum Sitz Bath provides relief from muscle soreness and swelling to promote healing after labor and delivery. Taking pain medication as directed by your healthcare provider will help to alleviate pain. If you’re experiencing pain between medication doses, you can sit on an ice pack in 10-minute intervals to help reduce pain naturally. 
  • Constipation- Taking stool softeners and eating a diet high in fiber can help ease constipation and the fear of aggravating incisions or hemorrhoids. Probiotics help to balance the bacteria in your gut and alleviate gastrointestinal woes, our Women’s Health Probiotic is an excellent, nursing-friendly choice to support female digestion, gut health, immunity, vaginal health, and whole-body wellness. 
  • Hemorrhoids- With the amount of pressure and stress you placed on your lower body throughout pregnancy and delivery, it should come as no surprise if you develop hemorrhoids. Although they can be uncomfortable; sitz baths, over-the-counter ointments, and witch hazel can provide much-needed relief during your recovery.  
  • Vaginal Bleeding- After delivery, the hospital should provide you with sanitary pads and postpartum underwear, don’t be afraid to ask for extra while you have the chance –these tools will quickly become your best friend during recovery. Avoid using tampons or inserting anything into the vagina as it could introduce bacteria and lead to infection. 

Cesarean Section (C-Section)

A c-section is a major medical procedure, and as with any operation, you’ll need to be diligent in your aftercare.

  • Wound Care- Your incision could be anywhere from 4.5 inches to 6.5 inches running laterally or vertically along your abdomen. Taking your prescribed pain medication on the recommended dosing schedule can help to keep your pain under control. Gently clean and dry the incision daily and wear loose, comfortable clothing that doesn’t press or rub on the delicate area. 
  • Cramping- As your uterus contracts to its pre-pregnancy size you’ll experience cramping. Red raspberry leaf supports uterine toning and can help ease postpartum cramps. A warm pack or heating pad can also help alleviate contraction pains. 
  • Milk Production- Sometimes women experience delayed mature milk production as a result of c-section delivery. Nursing frequently, enjoying lots of skin-to-skin contact with your newborn, and taking a lactation supplement like our Total Lactation Fenugreek Free, can help get things flowing. 

Additional Self-care

Although the physical discomfort from recovery will subside in a few days, your mental and emotional health may still need some additional support up to a full year after delivery. Here are some things to keep in mind throughout the postpartum period. 

  • Rest Often- People love to say “sleep when the baby sleeps,” but that’s pretty unrealistic when you have other responsibilities outside of your newborn. Resting doesn’t have to mean sleeping. Enjoy a quiet moment in the sun, practice mindfulness, sit down and read a book, these are all ways you can physically and mentally rest without actually sleeping. 
  • Ask For (and Accept) Help- Advocate for yourself. If you need or want something, voice it to your partner, a friend, or a family member. Share duties, whether it’s bath time, bedtime, or otherwise. Asking is the only way you’ll get the help you need –if someone offers to help, provide them with guidance on what would be most helpful to you in that moment. 
  • Take It Slow- You might want to hit it with great exuberance when it comes to getting your post-baby body back, but take it slow. Give yourself grace. You’ve just created and accommodated the life of a whole new human for the past 40+ weeks, you deserve a break.
  • Set Healthy Boundaries- Establishing a bond and settling into a routine with your newborn should be your main focus during the postpartum period. Many people will want to come over and see the baby or visit with you, but guess what, it’s ok to decline. Visitors can create unnecessary stress, and setting boundaries with your friends, family, and employer/employees is critical to your mental and emotional well-being during recovery. 
  • Join Mommy Support Groups- If you’re struggling with assimilating to life with a newborn, social media or in-person mommy support groups are an excellent resource. You can socialize, ask judgment-free questions, and get tips and tricks from other moms to help navigate this new season of life.
  • Consider Hiring a Doula- If you’re in a financial situation that affords a luxury like a postpartum doula, go for it! Unlike a birthing doula, postpartum doulas provide support in the weeks following labor and delivery. Along with helping you adjust to life as a new parent, they can also provide support with breastfeeding, promote self-care, and even help with light cooking and housekeeping duties. 
  • Schedule Time for Just You- As you settle into a routine in the weeks following delivery, try and schedule “me time.” Treat this time like you would an appointment; add it to your calendar, discuss it with your partner, and let it be known this is what you’re doing. And just like you wouldn’t be late or cancel an appointment with your doctor, keep your appointment with yourself –even if just for a quick 5-minute break to journal or meditate. Reestablishing your autonomy is great for your self-confidence and your overall mental health.

It’s easy to become consumed by early motherhood, but self-care is an important part of being the best mama that you can be. If you’re interested in reading more we suggest you check out:

6 Unexpected Things That Happen to Your Body After Giving Birth

Six Types of Boundaries to Set After Having a Baby

Understanding Your Fourth Trimester: Just the Facts

Postpartum Recovery Tips Your OB-GYN Wants You to Know