About Me

A first time mum blogging the journey.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Caring for yourself after birth.

This one is for the ladies......

My midwife told me that the energy used during birth is the same as running a marathon, except you don't get to train.  In a way pregnancy does the opposite.  Although it prepares your body so that it can physically delivery a baby, it also leaves you tired and with all sorts of aches and pains.  Even straight forward births are exhausting and many women suffer tears which need to be stitched up.  My forceps delivery left me very bruised and also left a very painful graze.  The episiotomy I had was stitched up and this too left me very sore.  I couldn't stand or sit for two weeks and the healing process took months.  It took me nine months to make a baby thus I believe it will take at least that time to reverse the changes to my body.  After the birth of your baby you will also lose lochia (bleeds after birth), which can last up to six weeks.  Thus you need to wear maternity pads which can be quite uncomfortable with stitches.  With blood loss you will experience period like cramps as your uterus contracts back to its normal size.

So, where to start!?  Firstly make sure you have the house ready for the arrival of your little one to make caring for your baby as easy as possible.  Make sure you stock up on maternity pads as you will use around 24 a day for the first few days.  I had to send my partner out to Boots as I underestimated how many I would need.  No man likes to be sent to Boots to acquire such items! 

Make sure you keep all your maternity wear and comfortable clothes ready for when you return home.  You will be very uncomfortable for a while and will want loose pants.  Your tummy will still be quite big because your uterus is still large, it will also be very loose as your stomach muscle will have torn with the weight of your bump.  Your tummy will naturally shrink back to its original size as your uterus contracts back.  Your tummy muscle needs time to heal so don't do any exercise, especially sit-ups until at least six weeks after birth.  I suggest waiting longer then this.  In fact I still haven't started any exercise (five months on) as I am waiting until I feel ready.  Doing sit ups before you muscle has had time to heal can inhibit the healing process.  My Doctor recommended breathing in and pulling my tummy muscle in, holding for ten seconds then releasing.  The is a gentle but effective exercise.  

It's very important to ensure your stitches (if you've had any) don't become infected.  Your midwife will visit you and check your stitches for you.  I recommend having lots of warm baths, in fact a warm bath is good for most of the after effects of birth.  Don't put any bath bombs or bubble bath in.  Some midwives recommend salt baths or adding some lavender oil to help the healing process.  Make sure you gentle pat dry the stitches with a towel.  It's important to keep the area clean and dry.  Another remedy for all the bruising is arnica.  It is a natural aid for bruising and can be bought at your local pharmacy.

Keep taking pain killers as often as required even if breastfeeding.  My midwife said to take both ibuprofen and paracetamol every 4 hours or so.  It will seem like a lot but slowly you will soon need them less and less.  It really takes the edge off at night and helps you get a little sleep.   Sleep in itself it so important for new mums.  You need to be on top form to take care of a new born baby.  Check out my post on co-sleeping (Sleeping lions) as I think it can be key if you are struggling to get sleep with a newborn.  

If sitting down is very sore a blow up ring cushion can ease the pain, especially if you have visitors round.  If you are exclusively breast feeding then try a laying down feed position.  This position means you can lay in bed, much more comfortable. 

The most important thing to remember is that you will feel better and the pain will ease. I remember feeling like the pain and discomfort would never end but by two weeks I was sitting down and no longer taking any pain relief.  You will soon begin to fully enjoy motherhood and caring for your baby. 

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