5 Ways To Heal (Quickly) After Birth
When I came home from the hospital with my newborn daughter, I was (to say the very least) unprepared for what lay ahead. From the outside it looked like I had everything under control. The drawers were filled with tiny pink babygrows and our fridge was abundant with nutritious homemade meals. I was prepared for everything, I thought.
In actual fact, within days of giving birth I was a sobbing mess struggling to breastfeed. What I didn’t know at the time was that my daughter had a posterior tongue-tie which made latching difficult for her. Every time she fussed and rooted I’d feel my heart rate rise at the thought of her viper-like grip. It wasn’t until a week later that a lactation consultant diagnosed her with a tongue-tie and scheduled in a frenectomy. By I was stamping my feet in pain every time she fed.
Meanwhile my vajayja (love that word!) was a shadow of its former self. After months of hearing friends and family pontificate about how ‘Women had been having babies for thousands of years…’ I had felt mildly embarrassed about preparing my lady bits for postpartum. It seemed indulgent and unnecessary to worry about perineal sprays and peri bottles, so I avoided reading about postpartum recovery and kept my hospital bag ‘mum essentials’ to nursing bras and maternity pads. No one had warned me how the first pee would feel. Or the first poo for that matter. Likewise, I yelped an nearly jumped out of my skin the first time I stood under a power shower with sore nipples. Everything was a rather nasty shock.
In addition to all this the exhaustion was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I floated around like something from a zombie movie. Breastfeed. Diaper change. Repeat. It was no cake walk.
Eventually, as we hit month two I began to see light at the end of the tunnel. Unsurprisingly when I think back to those first tumultuous weeks postpartum I’m surprised at how much harder I made it for myself. I felt embarrassed that I needed help. I refused to admit when I wasn’t managing and I felt like I’d failed when I was in pain.
Did I get through it? Yes. But what I now recognise is that it could have been so much easier if I’d prepared myself a little better. There are of course many ways you can ease the transition into new motherhood, but here are just a few of the ones I picked up along the way.
Ask for help
Getting rest when you have a tiny baby is a bit like driving up a hill in reverse. However, don’t hinder your recovery by trying to do everything yourself. One little trick is to put a list of chores up on the fridge that visitors can help out with when they come to visit. You can even make it fun by adding a point system: ‘Emptying the dishwasher = one cuddle with bub’. They want to help, so let them!
A healthy diet is a great way to boost your immunity after birth so be sure to stock up on the good stuff. Focus on filling up on healthy sources of protein, fruit, vegetables, fiber-rich carbs and fats like avocados, nuts and seeds.
Don’t be hard on yourself
Many new mamas are keen to lose their baby weight quickly but don’t let this take precedence over nourishing your body. Yes, postpartum weight retention can be very frustrating but remember, it took 40 weeks to grow bub and it’s absolutely normal for it to take that (and then some) to lose any excess baby weight.
Take care ‘down there’
If you give birth vaginally or by emergency C-Section it’s likely you will need to do some pushing. The result? You may have grazes, tears and stitches. What’s the first pee like? The words excruciating, agonizing and searing spring to mind. What can you do to ease the pain? First off, get your hands on a peri bottle. These water-spraying marvels help to keep your lady bits clean and safe from infection. Plus, if you use them while you’re peeing, it dilutes the urine, reducing that nasty burning sting. Added to this, have a bottle of perineal spray to hand. Bottoms Up by Natural Birthing Company is developed by midwives, and is a soothing bottom spray designed to calm and heal painful grazes and tears.
Be patient with breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is beautiful bonding experience for mum and bub, but it can take time and patience. For that reason, make sure you have all the breastfeeding essentials on hand. A good nipple balm is vital, as well as a cool compress, some comfortable breast pads and access to a lactation support group or digital support pack. Check out www.babykomu.co.uk.
Catherine Sullivan is a mother of two and the co-founder of Mama Hug.