You don’t need telling that you need time to recover after giving birth (in fact, you’d probably like to sleep for the next year). Nothing can prepare for the impact bringing a baby into the world has on your body. You’re probably feeling sore, tired and very emotional but overwhelmingly excited to start life with your new baby. It’s important that you take time to look after yourself and let your body heal after doing such a wonderful job.
1. Pelvic floor exercises
Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind right now. Thankfully, these are easy. Doctors recommend starting pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible to help recovery after birth. These will help your perineum and vagina heal more quickly, as well as aid with bladder control
2. Change your maternity pad often
You should change your maternity sanitary towels every one to two hours after giving birth, increasing to every three to four hours over the following days. To stop infection from an episiotomy incision, cleanse the area (only with water) every time you go for a wee and pat dry. Tampons increase the risk of infection so invest in some heavy-flow maternity towels instead
3. Bathing stitches and cuts
If you’ve had stitches you should take extra care of them while you’re recovering after childbirth. Bathe them often in warm, clean water and dry yourself gently. It might feel better to lie on your side rather than your back too.
4. Pain relief
Understandably you’re going to be very sore ‘down there’. Vaginal pain after birth can be reduced with painkillers, but do check with your GP if you’re breastfeeding. Some abdominal pain after pregnancy is normal but if it’s continued pain in your upper abdomen, seek urgent medical advice.
5. Invest in a nursing bra
After giving birth, your breasts will be sore and tender. They’ll also start producing a yellowish liquid called colostrum, your baby’s first food. A decent nursing bra and soft breast pads will support you while you heal. You’ll probably have to wear a sleep bra through the night with breast pads to stop leaking too.
6. Sleep when baby sleeps
You’ll need all the energy you can get now that baby has arrived. You’ll soon get used to the night feeds and nappy changes, but in the meantime, try to get used to sleeping when baby sleeps. Even a short nap can make all the difference.