Taking Care of Yourself After Having a Baby
If you’re about to give birth or have just delivered your baby, you’re probably already aware of the fact that it can be a life-changing experience — and we’re not just referencing your new little bundle of joy.
Pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period can all have major effects on a woman’s mind and body. That’s why it’s important to proactively take steps to help you along the recovery process. Here are ten tips to help make your postpartum recovery as smooth as possible.
1. Get Rest
Delivering and then caring for your child is an utterly exhausting process. Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, the effect that birth can have on your body is significant.
In addition, there’s the physically exhausting responsibility of caring for your newborn around the clock. Adequate rest is required to recover from that chronic lack of sleep and a perpetually sore back.
Try to catch up on sleep whenever you can. Take advantage of baby’s nap time to squeeze in a catnap yourself. Even if you can’t actually sleep, letting your body rest whenever possible can do wonders as it attempts to heal.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
It’s also important to eat a balanced diet in the weeks and months after giving birth. Feeding your body the nutrition that it needs as it heals is critical. Keep healthy food options in your home and try your best to eat three regular meals a day.
Mothers with newborn infants can too often skip meals or not eat enough. This could be because they’re too tired to eat, or because they don’t have enough time to prepare a meal. Try to be aware of this and proactively eat whenever you feel hungry, and stock up on frozen, prepared meals (store-bought or homemade) that you can easily access.
3. Ask For Help
Newborn babies can be exciting, but as you provide 24-hour support for your child day after day, the experience can quickly become overwhelming. It’s important to try to recognize when you’re feeling stressed out by your new parental duties.
When you notice that you need a break, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Even if you feel uncomfortable trusting a family member or friend with your child, you can still ask them to help you with household chores, grocery shopping, and other mundane activities in order to give you opportunities to rest.
4. Be Prepared for Bodily Changes
You may be tempted to think the bodily changes will end once you’ve had your child, but that’s not the case. As your body heals, reduces your fluid levels, and returns to its previous shape, you can go through a variety of experiences including:
- Vaginal discharge.
- Weight gain.
- Hair loss and dry or irritable skin.
- Mood swings.
If you experience symptoms like these, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. These are frequently normal occurrences on the road to recovery.
5. Get Active
When you feel ready to start moving around again, it can be helpful to get back into an exercise routine. Make sure to start small. Begin easing into activities that you enjoy, set attainable goals, and try to enjoy yourself.
Exercise is good for both your physical and mental health, and can also be a great way to help shed any of the leftover baby weight.
6. Connect with Others
While it’s important to prioritize your baby, it’s also good to think about your other relationships as well. Spending time socializing with friends and family members can keep your supportive relationships strong, and can do wonders for your mental health as well.
In addition, spending intentional time with your partner can help your relationship remain in a healthy place. It facilitates communication and can allow both of you to support each other as you navigate the early days of parenthood with a newborn.
7. Be Aware of Your Emotions
Mood swings are one of the most common calling cards of the postpartum period of time. As your body heals and hormones and chemicals change, it’s easy to have sudden shifts in your mood, or even feel a bit of the “baby blues.” This consists of mild feelings of worry, fatigue, and even unhappiness associated with the time after your delivery.
Emotions and mood swings are normal occurrences, and being aware of them enables you to know these feelings are common. General awareness can also help you prevent any normal feelings from spiraling into full-on postpartum depression. If you notice more extreme levels of depression setting in, it’s wise to talk to a health professional as soon as possible.
8. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is essential during the period after having a baby. Whether you’re taking some time to book a massage, watching your favorite movie, or simply letting the dishes sit in the sink until tomorrow, it’s important to find ways to prioritize your own needs from time to time.
9. Talk to Your Doctor
If you have any concerns about conditions, symptoms, or other difficulties during your postpartum recovery, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.
For instance, you may find that you’re losing weight at an uncomfortably rapid pace. If this is the case, talk to your doctor to see if you have undiagnosed postpartum thyroiditis. If, on the other hand, you’re struggling with the way your body looks after having a baby, consider a mommy makeover to help return to your pre-pregnancy form.
10. Enjoy the Experience
Finally, remember to take time to simply enjoy where you are. Birth and early parenthood are unique, often once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you won’t be able to revisit once they’re in the past. Try to maintain a positive, grateful attitude each day and look for the things to be thankful for in your new life as a mother of your newborn baby.