What to expect after birth - you: Tips on how to cope with it all
Having a baby is a big deal. To be blessed with a beautiful baby is the most incredible gift you could ever wish for but it’s a huge strain on your body during pregnancy, birth, not to mention the physical and mental exhaustion of looking after your baby. Before I had my first baby I had no idea of what would happen to my body after birth. I thought the hard bit would be labour itself. No, the hard bit was labour but I didn't realise the physical and emotional feelings you would experience, particularly the first few days after birth. Apart from looking after a newborn baby little did I know that I had to prepare for post labour too. Both Connie and I delivered all our children vaginally so we wanted to share some helpful tips on how to cope immediately after a vaginal birth.Going to the toilet
- Use a jug or cup to pour warm water whilst you’re peeing – this will definitely help with any stinging down below
- If you need to go for a poo – don’t’ worry about stitches – they won’t come out when you go. You should go when you feel like it and not hold it in for fear as this may lead to constipation.
- Wash with warm plain water and pat dry – don’t use any soaps.
- If you have not had a bowel movement for a few days, seek medical advice.
- Use maxi sanitary towels initially – the padded ones not the ultra thin ones for more absorbency.
- Change them regularly (at least every 2-3 hours) to help keep the vaginal area clean and free from infection.
- If you need to change more than every hour or if you have blood clots passing through that are larger than a 50p – seek medical advice.
- You can use paracetamol and ibuprofen safely even during breastfeeding.
- If you find sitting uncomfortable, try using a pillow or soft cushion or even a towel rolled up into a doughnut.
- Wash using a bowl of plain warm water – a sitz – and pat dry – don’t rub.
- After going for a poo – wipe front to back, plain Water Wipes may help initially if you find dry toilet paper too painful, then wash as above.
- You may find soaking in warm water may give you some relief.
- You could also use an ice pack to reduce the swelling or even alternate with ice and warm water soaks.
- Sit on a pillow or soft cushion, or a rolled towel in a donut
- Wash after going to the toilet, wash using a sitz.
- You can try the different haemorrhoid creams.
- If it’s really painful you can use paracetamol and ibuprofen safely in breastfeeding
- Make sure you have lots of fibre (fruit and veg) in your diet, plenty of water, go when you have the urge. Don’t wait.
Faecal and urine incontinence – urinary incontinence is very common – almost a third of women, get this and can take up to 3-6 months to recover although doing kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles can help you speed things up.
Weight – I was under the impression that as soon as I had my baby, my belly would be back to my normal size! However, immediately after giving birth you will feel like you still have a baby inside you and look about 7 months pregnant. You will slowly lose this as your uterus shrinks back to size.
- Don’t rush into exercising too early because you need to rest after birth. Gentle walking and kegel (pelvic floor muscle) exercises are a good idea.
- Your abdominal muscles need to contract. You need
- A healthy diet including fruit and veg is important.
- Wait until your 6 week postnatal check up with your GP before starting more vigorous exercise.
Breast feeding – drink lots of fluids – drinking a glass with each feed will make sure you’re well hydrated. For other breastfeeding advice please speak to your midwife.
Sleep when your baby sleeps – the best advice in the initial period. I really wished I listened to this advice a bit more when I only had the one child.
Try not to plan too many events in your diary for the first few days, even weeks after giving birth. Yes you may want to show off your proud bundle of joy to the world but enjoy this precious newborn time getting to know your baby, bonding as a family and to look after yourself.
Your hormones can play havoc – you may be feeling elated one minute and be sobbing the next. The responsibility of looking after a little baby who entirely depends on you, the changes in hormones and sleep deprivation can contribute to ‘baby blues’. This is entirely normal and will soon pass in a week or so. This shouldn’t be confused with post-natal depression that starts from around 14 days to up to a year after birth. Try to share your worries. There are lots of mummy groups for support, speak to your midwife or GP, ask for your help. Share your worries.
Lower your standards for housekeeping and don’t expect to be preparing gourmet meals.
Accept help, ask for help, limit the number of visitors during the first few days.
And the most useful advice I’ve had is - don’t expect daddy to have the same instinct as you – he doesn’t have the hormones.
Other useful articles
- What to expect after birth – your baby
- What to expect after birth – how daddy can help
- Post natal depression http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Postnataldepression/Pages/Introduction.aspx