Especially in the final stages, pregnancy wasn’t exactly comfortable! By the third trimester you looked forward to giving birth and saying good bye to the swollen ankles and back pain. But labour wasn’t a walk in the park either. Your body just went through the biggest work out of its life in order to bring your little bundle of joy into the world.
Not only are you extremely tired after giving birth but you’re sore all over.
Because they’re producing milk, your breasts are quite tender now. Nursing or expressing your milk every two to three hours will help relieve the discomfort. You can also try placing heating pads on your breasts to help reduce the pain.
If you had an episiotomy or caesarean section, you may feel uncomfortable for several weeks. Using ice packs to bring down the swelling and sitting in a warm bath will help alleviate some of the soreness. Be sure to rest as much as possible and take pain relieving medication as prescribed by the doctor.
In addition to pain, you’ll bleed for a couple of weeks as the uterus heals. This bleeding is called lochia. As your uterus returns to its normal state you will feel contractions. These contractions increase with nursing and help decrease the bleeding.
Physical discomfort is often a major part of the postpartum healing process, but so is emotional change. Even if you have other children, you’re still adjusting to caring for a newborn and learning how to function as a changed family unit.
As a new mom, you need to care for yourself both on a physical and emotional level. Here are some tips to revitalize your body after baby:
- Follow a healthy diet. As a new mom, it can be easy to forget about eating healthy or even eating at all! But you need to eat well in order to heal and be strong enough to care for your baby. Follow a balanced diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and foods high in fibre to give you the energy you need to recover. If you are breastfeeding, it’s important to increase your fluid intake with water, fruit juice and milk. For more information on eating well, view Canada’s Food Guide at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php.
- Get your rest. Your newborn will be waking up every two to three hours a night to feed, be changed and even just cuddled. Because your baby has such a different sleep schedule to you, you may easily become exhausted. Try catching a nap during the day when your baby sleeps. Keep a bassinet or crib in your room to cut down time on night feedings and welcome offers from family and friends to care for the baby while you rest.
- Take time for yourself. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, be sure to take some time out for yourself. While the baby’s sleeping, read a book or take a nap. Have your partner watch the baby while you take a bath or invite family members to watch the baby while you go for a walk.
- Exercise. You may feel too exhausted to exercise but after you get the go ahead from the doctor (usually around six weeks), it’s a good idea to start a modest exercise routine. Getting your body moving will increase your energy and help relieve stress and tension. Some easy post partum exercise suggestions include:
Walking – go out for short, slow walks at first to give you some fresh air and get your muscles working again.
Yoga – yoga can be a great way to relieve stress and gets the blood flowing. Sign up with a post partum class at your local gym or community centre.
Dancing with your baby – turn up the music and move around your own living room!
Squats – hold your baby while you do squats and lunges.