After giving birth, the body is going through large amount of changes, not to mention your family is going through a major adjustment period. Recovery should be a primary goal for most new moms. Rest and recover. Here are my top 5 ways to improve healing and recovery after pregnancy and delivery.
1. Take things SLOW
It is very tempting to jump back into all the things you were doing before and during your pregnancy. Many women just want to "feel normal" or "like themselves" again. However, remember, you've just had a major life change, major body changes and your body needs some recovery. Just like when you have any other major injury (yes, let's think of childbirth as an injury, I know, I know, it's not really an injury per se, but go with it for a minute) you have to allow those tissues to heal and mend and return to their previous position. If you strain your back, you don't jump into high intensity exercises right away, right?
After having a child, the hardest thing, in my personal opinion, is overcoming that mental game. Your mind says, "Let's go, I'm ready to move, I need to get out of this house and get my body going again." Your body is not always ready. So...gently test your level of activity daily and see where you feel most comfortable physically. Maybe you walk around your house for 3 minutes one day. Feel good, no aches or pain or increase in bleeding, then maybe try that again before you decide to go for 4 minutes.
Sometimes you may have to push pause on what your mind is telling you. Start with breath work, move into gentle stretching, especially in the upper body from all the lifting, sitting, feeding, and so on that happens in those first few months.
2. Accept Help
If you're like me, many times you feel like you need to do it all. We see pictures of women who seem to have it all together and seem to have no help. We feel like we should be like Super Woman and be able to juggle all the household responsibilities, work, staying at home, raising children, nursing, bottle feeding, cooking, exercising, and be able to do it all right after giving birth. NOT TRUE.
We all need recovery, rest, and HELP. If you don't have family or friends or a partner who is available to help with some day to day things, you may consider opting for a postpartum doula. Yes, this is something that some doulas have training and are able to provide as part of their services. Look into postpartum doula services in your area if you want to have a little help with those night time wakings or just to have someone watch and take care of the baby while your are working on your own recovery.
If a neighbor is willing to bring food, let them. If your partner will watch the baby so you can take a shower, let them. If your mother-in-law is willing to stay with you for a few nights and help, let her. As hard as it is to accept help, rest is crucial to your recovery postpartum. Running around trying to be Super Woman is not going to be the best option for your overall recovery.
3. Lots of Water/fluids
Water is a key piece in any nutrition plan, so drink water or other healthy fluids. As mentioned in an earlier post, sparkling water may be an option for you, however, carbonated beverages are a bladder irritant, so keep that in mind when choosing your drinks postpartum.
Especially if you are nursing, water is crucial in improving and supporting milk production and avoiding dehydration. Water supports all body systems and also helps with decreasing the risk of constipation which can be more uncomfortable in those early postpartum stages of healing.
4. Healthy Foods and variety
Be sure you are eating a variety of healthy, healing foods that support your nutrition needs. Eat well-rounded meals throughout the day to support your body's healing. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats in addition to water will support your body's natural healing processes.
5. Rest, Rest, Rest
Have you got the message yet? Rest is KEY to your recovery. No, you don't have to do it all. There are many options out there for help. other moms, friends, family, postpartum doulas are a great option as well to help you through those sleepless nights and sleepless days :)
These are just a few tips to get you started. Once you have started to recover, then you can ease into your exercise routine. Not sure where to start? Check out some of our class offerings or book a session with our physical therapist or instructors for a one-on-one session here