Understanding the Postpartum Recovery Period
Up until fairly recently, postpartum care wasn’t something discussed publicly. If anything, it was a conversation strictly between the patient and the healthcare provider. However, recent years have seen a breaking of this once-taboo topic. After all, the postpartum recovery period isn’t easy by any means, as it's full of plenty of adjustments and healing.
So, let’s discuss postpartum care! What should you know about the post-pregnancy period? Are there any health issues you should know about? How can you prepare for this stage during your pregnancy planning? In this article, we provide all the lists you need. Let’s get to it.
Your Post-Pregnancy Preparation List
Postpartum is often preoccupied with the health of the baby. Yet, the mother’s health (mentally and physically) matters too. So, when preparing for your pregnancy and birth, make sure you plan for the post-pregnancy period as well. Here are a few things you should know.
1. Rest is Key
Your body just made and delivered another human being; this is a huge deal and a stressor on the body. While everyone may want to pop in for a visit, creating boundaries so that you can rest is essential for your healing journey (and for your mental well-being!).
During this post-partum phase, you’re not only adjusting but also likely running on less sleep as well as physically recuperating after giving birth. There is no expectation that you should just “bounce back.” Give yourself some breathing room. Let everyone know you care and appreciate them but that you need some time to adjust and recover for the first weeks or months.
Make sure you prepare for this time by stocking up on snacks, frozen meals, diapers, wipes, and clothing (for you and the baby).
2. Don’t Forget to Eat
While rest is a huge part of healing, eating is also necessary for your body to do what it does best. The body is an incredible entity, but it needs the tools to do its job. Plus, breastfeeding (if you do this. Again, no expectations! Some people breastfeed and some don’t.) requires energy for your body to create the milk for your little one.
3. When You’re Ready, Seek out Support.
During your pregnancy planning phase, consider doing some research for yourself after your pregnancy. For example, looking up new mother support groups can offer you a community (and friends) that are going through similar and can completely understand where you’re coming from.
And don’t be shy about looking into a postpartum doula, dog walker, house cleaner, therapist, lactation consultant, and more—no one expects you to do it all. Plan to seek help in any form; chances are you'll need it.
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4. Prepare a Postpartum Healing Kit.
This might sound a little silly but you’ll be so grateful you did it! For your postpartum care kit, Grab some super absorbent pads, laxatives, stool softeners, prune juice, bath herbs, a belly band, tucks cooling pads, witch hazel, and whatever else you think may help ease this time and contribute to an easier healing journey all around.
5. Look up pelvic floor physical therapists in your area.
Most women post-pregnancy should seek out this form of health care. It isn’t restricted to only the pregnancy phase. Afterward, you may need guidance on restrengthening your pelvic floor. Furthermore, a physical therapist can help you work out any niggles or aches that continue after pregnancy.
Phases of Postpartum Recovery
Postpartum recovery is considered the first six weeks after giving birth. However, it’s undeniable that you won’t be the same person (and your body won’t be the same) as you were prior to your pregnancy. Plus, every mom and body is different.
In particular, vaginal births can take six weeks or more to heal from, trending toward longer if you had any tearing. For C-sections, it will also take four to six weeks to recover, potentially longer if there are any bumps in the road.
For relieving discomfort as you recover postpartum, consider:
- Using a padded pillow or ring to sit on.
- Using an ice pack to cool the area and ease your pain.
- Using over-the-counter pain relievers.
It’s also important to note that vaginal discharge and blood may be coming from the vagina for weeks after giving birth. It may be red and heavy initially before easing off and becoming more brown or yellow.
You may also experience incontinence; this is why a pelvic floor physical therapist is essential, as this can help you strengthen your pelvic muscles and recover. Your bowel movements may also be off or painful afterward, which is where stool softeners or laxatives may come in handy.
Most importantly, give yourself a break. The postpartum recovery phase isn’t easy. Your body is healing, and your hormones are re-balancing. You might feel more emotional than usual, and you may experience some skin changes and even hair loss. Give yourself and your body some time. Practice self-compassion; this phase is temporary and is a major adjustment. Yet, being prepared can help in leaps and bounds.