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Too many women are too eager to jump back into “normal” life after having a baby.
You just had a baby, for goodness’ sake! Postpartum care is important!
Which is why almost all traditional cultures have a “lying in” period for new moms during which Mom stays in bed, bonds with Baby, and lets everyone else do the housework. Even just a few hundred years ago Colonial Americans expected moms to stay in bed for four weeks or more after Baby was born.
Why? During the postpartum period you will likely experience contractions, sore muscles, vaginal bleeding, and soreness that may last up to 4 weeks. You may also experience some breast engorgement as your breasts fill up with milk. If you had a c-section or episiotomy you will also have a wound that hurts.
The discomfort experienced during this period of time will eventually subside. If it intensifies instead, consult your doctor.
After delivery, it is vital you take care of yourself. Postpartum care means spending time on yourself. Taking proper care of yourself after delivery will reduce your risk of developing postpartum depression. It will also make you less irritable and critical, which means you can enjoy your beautiful newborn baby more!
Here are some basics of postpartum care:
- Be realistic.
You can’t do it alone, and you were never meant to. Trying to do it all will only make you terribly unhappy. Between taking care of your child, yourself, the housework, laundry, groceries, and staying connected to your husband, you will stretch yourself too thin. Get help, even if it’s a monthly housecleaning or a friend who can stop by once a week to do some food prep.
- Develop a support system.
Build a support system around yourself. They will help you on the days you feel down. Knowing there are people around you willing to help eases any “new mom” anxiety you may have about not being able to care for your baby properly.
- Take breaks with another adult.
Your bundle of joy will rely on you for everything. It’s easy to get totally consumed by caring for Baby. After the first several weeks (or months!) you’re going to want some adult company. Don’t feel guilty about getting out of the house, laughing, and talking about things other than the baby. When you return home, you’ll enjoy Baby even more!
- Put off major changes.
Your emotional and physical health is the first priority when it comes to taking care of your baby. Put off any major life changes that may affect them. Taking up a new job or moving houses is not something you want to do at the moment. Give yourself time to adjust to your new life and recover from labor first.
How to care for yourself postpartum:
If you hope to be healthy enough to take care of your baby, you need to first take care of yourself.
- Use pads instead of tampons.
- Take a painkiller, if necessary, to ease cramps.
- If your vagina is swollen, use an ice pack to reduce the inflammation.
- Use a squirt bottle to clean yourself instead of wiping with toilet paper.
- Sit in a few inches of warm water daily. This will boost blood flow, speeding up the healing process, and soothe any irritation that follows after constipation.
- Drink lots of fluids and eat high-fiber foods to ease constipation. If it gets worse, ask your doctor for a stool softener.
- Wait at least 6 weeks to have sex.
- Do not douche.
- Avoid any strenuous activity for at least 6 weeks.
- Do not take a lengthy bath until the doctor says it’s okay.
What’s your postpartum care wisdom? How should you rest and recover while keeping up with the demands of a newborn?
First published at www.babycenter.com.
Featured image source: www.webmd.com