Sonali Shivlani, Internationally Certified Pregnancy Consultant and a Child Nutrition Counsellor takes you through what to expect when getting back to your regular routine, after the birth of your bundle of joy.
The first few hours after the birth of your little one is generally a blur of emotions. Congratulations are in order, and you’re most certainly experiencing the unadulterated love of holding our baby, and a whole lot of relief, coupled with other emotions. It’s only after this wave of excitement and emotions dies down that you will start thinking about your next steps you’ll need to take to get back to your routine, and perhaps, in better physical shape. But what you need to do, completely depends on how you gave birth. Let’s review…
You may have had a vaginal birth or a surgical birth with some variations in between. Say, for example, the use of a vacuum, or you may have had an episiotomy. Whatever your delivery, it is important that you give your body the utmost attention when it comes to care and recovery.
Vaginal Birth: Postpartum Recovery
Most moms who deliver vaginally may find themselves feeling exhausted post birth. Two things which come to mind are food and sleep. You can, of course, eat a full meal, take a warm shower or sponge and catch up on some much-needed rest. Remember, your baby will also go into ‘deep sleep mode’ a couple of hours post birth. This happens because the baby has been over stimulated with all the unique sensory input received post birth. The first hour after birth for your new born is a state of high alert as she takes in her new environment. Additionally, this is a great time to get breastfeeding established. For your own recovery, catch up on sleep when she sleeps.
You may have an episiotomy which is a small incision made in the perineum. This is done to help deliver the baby without the mother tearing in multiple places. The decision to make the episiotomy lays with the doctor and it depends on how well your perineum is stretching as the baby’s head crowns. Taking care of these stitches is part of your postpartum care routine. Remember to wash and dry the stitches every time you use the bathroom. Your doctor will also recommend an anti infective ointment to be applied to the stitches. You may also find it difficult to sit comfortably and you can sit on a special episiotomy pillow or a soft cushion. Wear loose cotton under pants as well as cotton maternity pads to help the stitches heal faster. You will also experience lochia flow post the birth. This simply means that the uterus is cleansing the lining. This can last for 15 to 40 days. It may resemble your menstrual cycle but please note that this is not the same. Moreover, with lochia fl ow, you may notice that the bleeding increases if you over-exert yourself, so please take it easy. It is a good idea to listen to your body and rest. Take care of your baby and yourself, but delegate other household chores to family members. Take as much help as you need.
Surgical Birth: Postpartum Recovery
If for some reason you need to deliver the baby via Caesarean section, your care will be a little different in the first few days. Moms are not allowed too much movement in the first 12 hours and nutrition is also provided via IV. Slowly, liquids and a soft diet is started and by the time you complete 48 hours postpartum, you are allowed to eat all foods. You may feel like an old woman when your doctor asks you to walk the first time post the delivery, but soon you will start feeling more comfortable. Your doctor will check your stitches and change your dressing often during your stay in the hospital. Remember, do not bend or put any pressure on the abdomen for a few weeks as your internal scars need to heal as well.
Most moms want to start their exercises soon after delivery, in order to get back to their pre-baby weight. However, remember that your body has just gone through a significant trauma and changes so it is important to start slow. You can start with a walking programme and slowly add stretches and strength training as you gain more stamina. Remember to check with your doctor about your own individual case before you start any exercise routines.
An abdomen belt can be used to support the abdomen muscles in the post delivery period. The muscles have stretched due to the growing uterus and now will take a few weeks to come back to their original position. In this period, an abdomen belt can give good support. Traditionally, women would tie a sari which would act as a good support for the abdomen muscles.
As you are a breastfeeding mom, and you are also recovering from pregnancy and birth, you need about 500 extra calories every day. This must come from healthy foods like unrefined carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and high-quality proteins. Avoid excessive fats and sugar as these are not going to contribute to your health, nor will they help in increased lactation. You can expect that you would feel hungry more often, so keep healthy snacks handy. Most nursing moms also find that they feel thirsty and it is important to drink plenty of fluids in this post delivery period. |MB