The first few weeks after giving birth are joyful, overwhelming, and exhausting. You’ve just brought a brand new human into the world and you’re likely torn between wanting to shout about your new addition to the family and wanting to sleep for a month! The first few weeks after becoming a mother are exciting, but it’s important to allow yourself to heal, both physically and emotionally.
Let’s go through what postpartum recovery is and why it’s so important.
What is postpartum care?
The postpartum period refers to the adjustment period during the first six weeks after giving birth. During this month or so, you will bond with your little one and you’ll most likely get a post-delivery check-in from your doctor.
It’s pretty easy to say “take care of yourself after you’ve given birth,” but what are you supposed to do? What we generally think of as self-care (such as long bubble baths and working out) won’t apply, so what’s involved in self-care postpartum?
6 Ways to Do Self-Care Postpartum
Rest and sleep when your baby does, if possible. Your little one will likely wake up every two to three hours each night, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough rest. Remember that simply being still with your eyes closed can be as good as sleeping, so feel free to lie back with a podcast or audiobook playing.
Eat balanced meals. This is good advice for any person at any stage of their life, but eating satiating, nourishing meals is vital for your body’s healing process. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich beans, nuts, and legumes. You may experience slow bowel movements as your body adjusts to no longer having the pressure of your baby inside, so eat high-fiber fruits and drink prune juice to ease constipation. If you’re struggling to cook for yourself, as friends and relatives if they can make extra portions for you, or invest in a food delivery service. You’ll also want to increase your water intake, particularly if you’re breastfeeding.
Look after your mental health. Postpartum depression is common, but it’s even more common to experience mood swings and unexplainable sadness (such as crying for no real reason), especially in the first two weeks. Being a new mother is tough, so consider keeping a journal where you can rant and rave about anything in private, or use an app like Daylio to keep track of your mood so you can see how quickly it changes.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This time can be a vulnerable one for new mothers, and you may need your loved ones’ help now more than ever. Ask friends and family members to clean the house, prepare meals, take care of other children if you have them, and generally let you rest as much as you can. It’s totally okay to do so!
Don’t put yourself under pressure to “bounce back” immediately. The process of toning your stomach muscles and losing pregnancy weight will take time. In the first few months postpartum, it’s better to focus on staying healthy than losing weight. Get enough rest for at least a month and then you can gradually return to exercise, maybe by walking with your baby in a sling or stroller. Focus on developing new healthy habits over losing weight.
Prioritize yourself and your baby. Don’t take on any additional responsibility until your baby is 6 weeks old, and then only if you really really want to. You may love being the person your loved ones can turn to when they have a problem, but you’re off the table. You don’t have to juggle it all.
Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and happy. If you fall into wearing super comfy clothing every day, that’s okay! But if you wouldn’t want to answer the door in them, it might be time for an upgrade. (Yes, this is an excuse to shop!) Look for clothes that are comfy and make you feel good. Sportwear is in, so feel free to wear leggings and joggers, and a cute t-shirt on top. As long as you feel good and comfortable, you’re onto a winner.
Consider abdominal wrapping. This technique has been around for hundreds of years, and it’s used to build core strength so that new mothers can get back to their lives and have additional support when moving around. While women used to use fabric wraps, you can now use shapewear to get the same support. These body shapers are comfortable with light compression to support better posture and wrap everything up safely!
Taking care of yourself in this time and ensuring you do proper postpartum care is so important – just taking the time to eat and drink well, or asking your mom to look after your baby while you shower can make the world of difference. If you’re feeling down on how you look, our postpartum shapewear options may help you feel more like your old self.