Postpartum Recovery and Healing After Birth

New mom after giving birth

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Right after giving birth, you will have people who will care for your needs. In a hospital, you will have nurses to assist you; at home, you may have a midwife or doctor. These people will monitor your vital signs and watch over the baby. They will also massage your uterus to help be sure that it starts to contract to prevent bleeding. While the word massage sounds nice, it's not that pleasant because your abdomen is probably tender, particularly if you just had a cesarean birth.

Postpartum Pain Relief

You will normally stay in a hospital for two days after vaginal birth and four days after a cesarean section. You may stay more or less time, depending on your health. A birth center has shorter stays which vary from several hours to a day. During this time you have access to some form of pain medication for after pains and your physical recovery. Be sure to ask your doctor, midwife or nurse how to care for yourself at home, including pain medication, comfort measures, and sitz baths.

Postpartum Nutrition

Watching what you eat is important. Though not for weight reduction issues. Your body has just been through a major change and nourishing it with lots of great food will help you heal more quickly and feel better sooner. Breastfeeding moms only need about 450 to 500 extra calories a day. You may want to continue taking your prenatal vitamins after you give birth.

Exercise and Fitness Postpartum

Don't be in a huge rush to get back to working out full steam. Remember to go easy on yourself and gently return to exercising. After a vaginal birth, you can begin exercising 4-6 weeks after your baby is born. Because a cesarean is a surgery, you need to wait 6-8 weeks before exercising again.

Your Love Life

Believe it or not, you will have sex again after you have a baby. You need to wait until you have stopped bleeding which is a signal that your uterus has healed. Some women choose to jump back into it while others take a slower pace. There is no right or wrong answer.

Your Body

Immediately after giving birth you feel very skinny comparatively. While some symptoms like swelling may take a while to go away, you feel better. You do get some fun symptoms like sweating for a few days, but that goes away as well. Your stretch marks begin to fade and your body feels better. Even with working out and getting back to or below your pre-pregnancy weight, your body may be different.

Postpartum Depression and the Baby Blues

Postpartum depression is a very serious matter. While many women will have a minor period of hormonal fluctuation known as the baby blues, postpartum depression is more serious and lasts longer. One thing that many people don't consider, but is experienced by many moms, is postpartum anxiety.

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Article Sources
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  1. KidsHealth. Cesarean Sections (C-Sections). Updated February 2017.

  2. Canters for Disease Control and Prevention. Maternal Diet. Updated February 10, 2020.

  3. Recovery following caesarean section. In: National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health. NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 132. Caesarean Section. London: RCOG Press; 2011.

  4. Postpartum Support International. Anxiety During Pregnancy & Postpartum. 2020.

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