A Quick Guide to Postpartum Recovery for Expecting Moms

A Quick Guide to Postpartum Recovery for Expecting Moms

Preparing for your baby’s arrival involves so much. From decorating the nursery and choosing names to attending doctor appointments and stocking up on all the essentials, the list can feel endless. But amidst all that excitement, it’s easy to forget about your postpartum journey. 

Though sometimes overlooked, the postpartum period is considered the fourth trimester. Even though you’ve already delivered your baby, it’s just as important to focus on your physical and mental health during this stage as it was during the first three trimesters. 

Regardless of whether you had a vaginal birth or C-section, you have a road to recovery ahead of you, and you need to be kind and patient with yourself as your body heals. To help you navigate the first few weeks as a new mom, I’ve created a handy guide to your postpartum recovery.

Learn About the Postpartum Experience

No, you don’t have to be an expert on all things postpartum, but understanding what to expect can help your recovery. That’s why I suggest reading postpartum books, speaking with your doctor, following up with a pelvic floor physical therapist, and even discussing the topic with your loved ones who have recently given birth. Asking questions, hearing about others’ experiences, and listening to advice can help you feel more prepared for this endeavor, as you’ll have a better idea of what the coming days and weeks may look and feel like for you.

postpartum kit with pads, bottles in a basket

Look into Postpartum Kits

You have a lot on your mind preparing for the arrival of your little one, so do yourself a favor and stock up on a postpartum kit. These handy kits include postpartum care essentials to help see you through those early days, with items like disposable underwear, belly wraps, ice packs, and pain meds. Beyond the basics, you can also find more pampering ones that include products like herbal tea, nipple butter, soft delivery gowns, and cozy socks for additional comfort and pampering. 

Even if you purchase a postpartum kit or build your own, don’t forgo the freebies the nurses provide you at the hospital. Trust me; you can never have too many mesh panties and hospital pads on hand! Those were my go-to postpartum because they were light, breathable, and stretchy.

Understand Your Symptoms

Your body will change for the next couple of weeks, so familiarize yourself with what to expect so you won’t be alarmed. For example, you’ll have vaginal discharge, called lochia, and it’s completely normal to have heavy bleeding, like a period, as your body works to empty your uterus. Contractions are another postpartum symptom you might expect. Known as afterpains, these contraction-like feelings occur as your uterus shrinks down to its normal size.

bed with low lighting

Focus on Pain Relief

Regardless of whether your delivery was quick and uneventful, you pushed for hours, or received a C-section, your body is going to need some time to heal and recover. During this time, you may experience itching, bruising, soreness, and swelling, but there are ways to combat the uncomfortableness:

  • Apply ice to your sensitive regions
  • Use witch hazel on hemorrhoids to help reduce inflammation
  • Sit in a sitz bath to help reduce swelling and clean the perineal area
  • Ask your doctor about taking over-the-counter pain meds like Tylenol or Advil 
  • Sleep as much as you can to allow your body to recover
  • Meditation and breathing exercises can help relieve muscle tension in the body

Prevent Infections

We understand you’ll have a lot on your mind, but you must be mindful of preventing infections. Your body is sensitive right now, so be sure to follow these tips:

  • Use a peri bottle when using the bathroom to keep your perineum clean
  • Frequently change your pad—at least four times a day
  • Wear clean, dry underwear and change it often
  • Keep incisions clean and dry
  • Don’t use tampons for the first six weeks
  • Avoid douching products

Expect Changes in Your Bathroom Routine

Your body will go through a lot below the belt. It’s only natural to experience some changes or difficulties when going to the bathroom. 

Some new moms may find it difficult to pee because their urethra is swollen or bruised. Others have trouble making it to the bathroom on time. Childbirth can interfere with the pelvic muscles and nerves, so some leakage might happen when you laugh or sneeze—it’s something that can be treated with pelvic floor therapy.

Constipation or pain associated with bowel movements is also common. This could be due to the medication you took and/or the toll the delivery took on your body. So, be sure to hydrate and eat high-fiber foods to help get things moving. Getting up and walking around after birth can also get things moving to help make bowel movements more comfortable. Drinking warm water will help stimulate the bowels, too. If it becomes an issue, ask your doctor about using stool softeners. 

thermometer with 37.0 temperature reading

Keep an Eye Out for Complications

Your body has gone through a lot, so it can be challenging to decipher between what’s normal and what’s not. That said, if you experience any of the following symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor immediately:

  • Excessive or heavy bleeding (if you’re changing your pad more than once an hour).
  • Fever above 100.4 degrees F
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • An incision that won’t heal
  • Swollen and/or painful legs
  • Intense headaches that don’t improve after taking pain medication
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing
  • Dizziness or fainting

Monitor Your Mental Health

Experiencing the baby blues after giving birth is a natural occurrence, and it usually brings feelings of irritability, sadness, and fatigue. However, if these feelings continue for weeks and begin to intensify, you may be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD). PPD symptoms can include extreme stress, loss of interest, mood swings, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and more. If you think you may be struggling with these symptoms, contact your doctor and seek help. 

Ask for Help 

You are a Supermom for giving birth and life to this brand-new baby. But don’t think you’re expected to do everything on your own! Those first few months after a child is born require all hands on deck, so don’t hesitate to ask for the help you need. Let your partner, parents, siblings, neighbors, and friends assist you, whether watching the baby while you squeeze in a nap or making you dinner while you nurse. Embrace their love and support and allow them to lend a hand as you navigate this new and exciting chapter of your life.

A Quick Guide to Postpartum Recovery for Expecting Moms text with picture of a postpartum mom holding a baby

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