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Your Guide to Postpartum Care

First Things First:

You’ve spent the last day or two after delivery receiving care from the professionals at the hospital. Now you’re ready to be discharged, and the prospect of caring for yourself without their help can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, the team at the hospital will provide you with items and instructions to take home with you, for your care. 

Here are some highlights of important things to remember as you take care of your postpartum body and mind!

Pay close attention to the advice and instructions you receive when you’re released. It will be specific to your delivery, and because each woman’s experience is different, you’ll want to incorporate the specific advice they give you.

Take advantage of the pain relief items they send home, as you will need them in the coming days. Many women rave about the cooling relief of dry ice packs and cooling sprays, as they wait for the perineum to heal; the peri bottle will help you to ease pain during and after urination, as this area will likely be too sensitive to wipe. Fill the water with warm water to soothe and clean this sensitive area during the days after delivery.  Many moms are also glad for the heavy duty pads and disposable underwear the hospital provides, as there is heavy flow post-delivery.

1.C-Section Specifics – Recovery from a C-Section delivery is unique from a vaginal delivery and it’s of the utmost importance that you carefully follow doctor’s instructions. You’ll need to limit your physical activity as well as carrying things (other than your newborn) until you have the green light from your caregiver. Follow the instructions on keeping your scar clean (gentle washing with soap and water, followed by antibiotic ointment). Depending on your doctor’s instructions, you will either let the scar air out or keep it covered with a bandage.

2. Staying Regular: Most hospitals won’t discharge you until you’ve had your first postpartum bowel movement. However, in the days that follow, it’s still very important to ensure your movements are comfortable and don’t cause painful (and potentially harmful to your perineal tears or your C-section scar) straining. You can help achieve this by ensuring your diet is rich in fiber, and by possibly incorporating a gentle stool softener (you may be given a bottle of these to take home from the hospital).  Staying hydrated is also very important for your movements, and your overall health during this time, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Keep a water bottle close at hand throughout the day.

3. Take it slow. Of course, rigorous exercise is not something you will incorporate into your routine for several weeks yet.  However, during the first days and week after delivery, slowly incorporate gentle walking into your day. This is good for you and baby on many levels. Even if you have a day when you feel great, don’t go too fast, too far, too soon! Your body is healing so resist the urge to over-do it. Slow and steady it goes with the walking.

4. Mind your Mental Health. You may have heard about postpartum depression, sometimes called the “Baby Blues”.  Although it’s perfectly normal to sometimes feel tired, discouraged, depressed or overwhelmed as you adapt to caring for your newborn, remember that you should watch for signs that you’re dealing with a more serious issue. If weeks go by and your feelings are not improving but rather persisting, reach out for help. As many as 1 in 4 women will experience postpartum depression, so you are not alone, and you should not hesitate to get help. Medication, support and talk therapy have all proven to be very helpful to women under these circumstances. Your doctor will be glad to help you.

5. Rest, and stay connected. Don’t try to do TOO much during this time. You’ve just given birth and there’s a brand new life living with you! You can’t do it all during this time, and for your sake, you shouldn’t try. Things like laundry, cooking and cleaning can all wait until you’re stronger and in a regular routine with baby. Allow yourself to nap and rest whenever possible. Treat healing like it’s your job, because it is! Your baby needs you, so caring for yourself is caring for her too. Stay connected to friends and family. If a friendly face wants to drop by and bring a meal, say YES! You need emotional connection and social interaction during this time. And allow your loved ones to do FOR you during this time. If someone offers to vacuum, cook or wash clothes for you, let them help. You have plenty of time to do these things for yourself in the future, but during these early weeks and months, take advantage of any help offered to you. You’ll be glad you did. Talking and visiting others, having a few laughs, and being reminded that there is a world out there beyond diapers and bottles, is very good for your mental health. Keep connected as much as possible, and don’t worry about how you or your home looks. Cut yourself some slack and know that true friends want to see YOU, and love you unconditionally.

6. Keep Your First PostPartum Doctor’s Appointment. We get it, the last thing you want to do is go to the doctor’s office right now. But it’s vital that you’re checked out to ensure you’re healing as expected. If something is not quite right with you, it’s imperative your doctor knows and can help you right away, before a dangerous situation occurs.

Thanks for visiting the blog. Stay tuned for more tips for new moms and moms to be!

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