Whilst looking after your new bundle of joy is crucial after giving birth – so is looking after yourself.
Each pregnancy and birth will be very different, and your body will react differently as it gets back to normal. It is important to give yourself time to recover. In this post you will find some helpful information on how to recover after the birth of your baby.
Physical changes to your body
Giving birth is not like the Hollywood films show it, and once your baby is born your stomach does not immediately shrink back to what it was. It can take time. Your uterus will contract for a number of days after the birth, especially each time baby feeds. This may cause some discomfort, and it can take up to 8 weeks for it to shrink to its pre-pregnancy size, so do not be concerned or feel pressured to get your weight down too quickly as it is not safe and not healthy to do so in the weeks after giving birth.
In addition, depending on how you gave birth will depend on the recovery and period of time. If you had a natural birth, you will probably find that your recovery is much quicker than if you had a severe perineal tear or caesarean section, and your mobility and general ability to do day-to-day activities may be longer after a caesarean.
You may also find that in the first few days after giving birth when your milk ‘comes in’ that you may experience tender breasts which can be treated using ice packs or a warm shower.
Haemorrhoids can be experienced during and after pregnancy. These haemorrhoids can cause significant discomfort. They can be treated with witch hazel or cream that you will be able to get from your local pharmacy. Alternatively chat to your Obstetrician who will be able to provide alternative recommendations if needed.
Constipation is another common side effect of giving birth. Pear juice is a great option to help keep the bowels moving, as well as drinking plenty of water and a fairly natural laxative such as Movicol.
Don’t expect to jump straight back on the treadmill
It is crucial to let your body heal after giving birth especially if you have had a Caesarean section. Not doing so could mean further complications or delay your recovery. Your muscles soften when pregnant and it can take time for them to go back to normal, so rushing in to do intense exercise such as weights and high impact cardio is not advised at all. All of my patients receive a post partum visit from the physiotherapists in hospital, as well as a follow up visit at 6 weeks in our clinic. The physiotherapist can give you useful advice regarding what type of exercises can be undertaken, and give you tips on restrengthening the pelvic floor and abdominal wall muscles.
You might continue to go to the toilet frequently
Most women postpartum continue to need to go to the toilet frequently. This can caused by the fluid retention in the body when pregnant, and should settle down over time. You may also find that you get occasional ‘leaks’. Doing regular pelvic floor exercises will assist with this. You can find some great examples here, but if you are recovering from surgery always check with your doctor or physiotherapist first.
Dr Ken Law is a trusted Brisbane Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with extensive experience attained locally, nationally, and internationally. He is a passionate obstetrician delivering babies at Greenslopes Maternity, providing women with an individualised experience of pregnancy and birth. He is a leading Gynaecologist in Brisbane, utilising the latest minimally invasive techniques including laparoscopy and robotic surgery to treat gynaecological disorders. Dr Ken Law has special interests in colposcopy for abnormal Pap smears, endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, and prolapse.