Post-Delivery Core and Pelvic floor exercises, Meditations, Recipes and Educational Content
By Rachel Maree
Your body has just done one of the most amazing things it will ever do: grow another human being. After 9 long months of waiting, you will be excited to be home with your new baby. However, there will be some anxiety and fear too. So much of the last 9 months will have focused on your pregnancy and labor. But what comes after? What happens when you bring that tiny oh-so-adorable baby home?
It is very common to feel as though you are not healing and recovering as quickly as you would like. Remember, the more you can rest your body and let it fully recover, the better you’ll be for it. Even if all you can manage is to eat, sleep and care for your baby in this postpartum period that is more then enough.
So what is actually happening to our body in the immediate “post-partum” period?
During pregnancy your uterus grows exponentially, so it is a given that after your baby has made their grand entrance into the world your uterus goes back to normal. As your uterus shrinks it causes abdominal pain, also known as after pains. It can feel like having contractions again, just not as intense. These pains should only last about a week, however it can take the full six-week period for your uterus to return to normal size. Breastfeeding can help to speed up this process as it stimulates contractions.
It is not unlike period pains, and you can use the same pain relieving methods. Curl up on the couch with a hot water bottle and cuddle your newborn baby, have your partner make you cups of tea and even massage your feet to distract you (especially if the pain intensifies when breastfeeding). It is a great excuse, not that you need one after labor, for your partner to wait on you hand and foot and be pampered.
So many moms will talk to you about their “mommy tummy” post birth. Your Uterus will take a few weeks to reduce back to it’s pre-pregnancy size and you may be swollen and carrying around excess gestational weight gain. It took you 9 months to grow and birth a life, it will take more then six-weeks for the impact that has on your body to disappear.
In the meantime, if you feel self-conscious or embarrassed of your droopy abdomen you can wear some fantastic post birth supportive underwear that may reduce the appearance. And with the added benefit of holding those maternity pads in place!
There are so many things that could cause constipation in this period.
- Analgesia – which you may have received during labor, or are taking after.
- Iron tablets
- If you were constipated beforehand.
- Fear – many women are afraid of their first bowel motion post birth, whether because they believe it may cause more pain or that it may damage any stitches they may have.
Constipation can be relatively easy to treat. Simply ensure you are drinking plenty of water, eating high fiber foods and if you believe you need it you can take a stool softener.
The fear can be harder to overcome. You just pushed a baby out; your body has been through so much already that it seems unfair to put it through this. However, avoiding going will only make the constipation worse. You have got this! You CAN do this. The thought of it really is much worse then the actual pain of going to the toilet.
Hemorrhoids are annoying, and sometimes painful, swelling of the veins in the rectum that can be caused by pushing or may have developed during your pregnancy.
The great news is generally they are super simple to treat and will disappear over time. You can jump in a lovely warm sitz bath – also fantastic to relive the aches and pains of childbirth and decrease swelling and pain in the perineum. Witch hazel is also a great way to relieve the itchiness and pain of hemorrhoids. There are many over the counter creams and other treatments that can help too.
If you had a vaginal birth your perineum and vagina will be tender, swollen and bruised. You may even have some stitches. It can make sitting down uncomfortable initially, however after a week it should all be settling.
Ice packs are fantastic for the first few days. After that gentle walks, analgesia and a personal favorite of warm sitz baths! Have your partner run you a bath at a time you will hopefully not be interrupted by your newborn and soak in the tub.
Vaginal bleeding or discharge post labor is known as “lochia”. It comes from your uterus shrinking and shedding the lining left from the placenta and is completely normal. It can be as heavy, if not heavier, as your menstrual period and you can have a gush when you stand in the first few days. For some women this will last a few days but for others it may take weeks to fully subside. If you’re worried about your postpartum bleeding, make sure to speak to your medical professional about your body and what you’re experiencing. Maternity pads will be your best friends during this short time. It is also a great excuse to have multiple showers a day!
Sore Nipples, Leaky and Engorged Breasts!
It is normal to have sore nipples and breasts in those early days of trying to establish breastfeeding. Both you and your baby are learning a new skill, and it can take some time to adjust. Just like your breasts! Over the first few weeks you will have some engorgement as your milk supply adapts to the demands of your baby. The leaking, however, can last your whole breastfeeding journey! There are fantastic nursing pads out there; you can even buy fashionable reusable ones. Be sure to invest in a beautiful, comfortable and well fitting nursing bra or two. They will make everything so much easier. Besides, who doesn’t love a good excuse to go shopping!
The muscles around your bladder and pelvis can become weakened by pregnancy, labor and childbirth. This can make it harder to control your flow of urine. With regular pelvic floor exercises (Matriarc program) you will most likely regain control of these muscles. A good way to remember to do these exercises daily is to incorporate them into a “routine”. Whilst there isn’t much of a routine when you have a newborn, you could try something like asking your partner for help for 5-10 minutes each morning or evening to complete a Matriarc sequence.
Night sweats are usually caused by hormonal shifts. As your hormones normalize post birth, the night sweats should settle down. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids to replace the water you are losing. A soft absorbent towel over your pillow can also help.
Once again, those hormones! This time they can cause hair loss. The great thing is it is only temporary. Take advantage of it and hit up your hairdresser for some new hairstyles. Make sure you request a nice low maintenance one.
Rachel Maree specializes in writing for small businesses in the health, fitness, pregnancy and parenthood industries. She is also a mum to 2 beautiful children and registered nurse. She loves her hectic life. It lends her inspiration and experiences to write intriguing, funny and informative articles and stories.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.