How Mama Should Look After Herself Post-Pregnancy
How Mama Should Look After Herself Post-Pregnancy
Bringing a new life into the world is one of the most significant and joyous acts that a person can take. A new baby is a cause for celebration, but a fragile newborn also brings about great change and hardship for its parents.
These changes can be especially difficult for the mother as not only does she have to raise a newborn, but her body has also undergone a significant physical change. Her uterus is returning to its normal size, her body has put on weight, her breasts are filling with milk, and on top of that, new and unfamiliar hormones are swirling through her system, causing great emotional change.
In this post, we will go over some of the changes a new mother can expect after delivering her baby, as well as some things each mother must do to take care of herself.
After the mother has delivered the baby and completed labor, she will be physically exhausted. On average a mother burns between 170 and 204 calories an hour while giving birth. This is a high-intensity workout, no matter how physically fit you are. Add onto that the physical pain of giving birth and the new mother will find herself exhausted for weeks after her child is born.
Here are some new mama must-dos to help her get back on her feet as soon as possible:
Get some rest. We must be joking right? How could anyone get sleep while their new baby is waking up every two to three hours wailing for help? The reality is that a new mama has to get her rest in. You may not make it to eight hours of sleep a night but getting several hours of uninterrupted rest is key to bouncing back from giving birth.
Ask for help. You’ve heard the old expression: “It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s true! If you have a partner, they should be the main source of support (a new baby isn’t easy for them either!) but don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and close friends. Many mothers feel that they must do it all if they want to earn the title of number one mama. But that just isn’t true. The best mamas know that taking care of themselves allows them to take care of their baby.
Eat healthy and nutritious foods. Your diet directly affects your energy level. Increase whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein in your diet to see your body regain as fast as possible. Not only is a healthy diet good for your body, but it also passes along key nutrients into breast milk, giving the baby a nutritional head start. Also, be sure that mama is getting plenty of fluids to help with milk production.
Light exercise. You will not want to hit the gym right after giving birth (nor would any doctor advise you do so) but gentle exercise is very helpful in the first few weeks after giving birth. Your doctor will tell you when your body is ready to begin exercise. A slow walk around the block with a close friend can work wonders in boosting your energy levels and helping you regain muscles lost while recovering from birth.
Having a baby can drastically impact how a family unit functions. Remember that communication and physical contact are key to maintaining a healthy relationship between mama and her partner. The partner should be as involved in raising the child as the mama, so if either member of the team feels they are not being supported, calm and constructive discussion is a must. Also, be sure to lay out expectations of childcare before and after delivery to make sure mama and partner know what is expected of them.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to set aside periods of alone time for between parents. Ask a family member or friend to babysit and spend an hour or two together uninterrupted. The bond between parents is extremely important, especially during the early tribulation of raising a child. A close bond between parents goes a long way to functioning as a parental team.
Pregnant mamas and new mothers are often cautioned that they may deal with postpartum depression or baby blues (they are different!). However, few truly understand the toll this can take on them mentally and physically.
The truth is that 70-80% of mothers experience mood swings or negative feelings after giving birth. Additionally, 25% of fathers feel these same emotions. This is often referred to as the baby blues and is different than postpartum depression.
Here are some additional symptoms of the baby blues:
- Unexplained crying
- Mood changes
All of these feelings are normal after having a new baby. They are exacerbated by a lack of sleep and new schedule demands. If the symptoms persist for longer than a period of two weeks, then you must contact your doctor as the baby blues are becoming a postpartum depression.
If you have thoughts of harming your baby, you also must let your doctor know immediately as this is another common sign of postpartum depression.
Do not be ashamed of these feelings. They are very common, and they do not make you a bad mother. They are a result of all the hormones in your system and are not a measure of your quality as a person or mother.
Postpartum depression can develop up to one year after giving birth. If you or someone close to you has given birth in the past year, make sure you consider the new mama’s mental health regularly and offer support if needed.
After pregnancy, the mother’s body is often permanently changed. Often a mama will have stretch marks on her belly or hips, permanent weight gain, or wider hips. These are all normal and can be managed by regular exercise and a healthy diet.
They do not however affect the beauty of the mother or her ability to bounce back to her life pre-baby. We like to think of them as badges of honor, a special sign that mama has brought life into the world. Wear them with pride!
Here are some changes mamas may see after giving birth:
Can be controlled with regular exercise
Breasts fill with milk and this process can be uncomfortable
Eat high fiber foods and drink plenty of water to help relieve this
Pelvic floor changes
Your perineum can stretch or tear during birth. Kegel exercises and icing the area can help it heal.
Hormonal changes can cause excessive sweating, even in activities that would otherwise be non-strenuous.
A shrinking uterus can cause cramping.
Typical for 2-4 weeks after birth
The body is getting rid of blood and tissue from your body
Do not use tampons or douches until 4-6 weeks after birth or until you have doctor approval as they can cause infections
Heavy bleeding and foul-smelling discharge are not typical and you should consult your doctor if you are dealing with this issue.
Keeping your Life Healthy Post-Pregnancy
Just as important as the health of the baby post-pregnancy is the health of the mama. If mama isn’t healthy then she will have a hard time taking care of her baby. Mama absolutely must look after herself post-pregnancy. This includes physically but also mentally.
Postpartum depression is exceedingly common in new parents and requires medical help to improve. Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise can help alleviate postpartum depression, however, in most cases, it won’t be dispelled so easily.
Many women grow frustrated at their weight gain post-pregnancy and attempt to diet to remove excess fat. However, when the mother diets, there are fewer nutrients in the breast milk and the baby’s health can suffer. Exercise is a much better method of trimming down after delivery.
Never be afraid to reach out for help while raising a newborn. Caring for a baby is a massive responsibility and never something a person should have to do alone. Doctors and family members are great to reach out to, but if you are looking for a more personalized guide, reach out to Tamara at Stork Helpers. Tamara is a doula with years of experience in helping bring babies into the world and has given birth to seven children herself. She has seen it all and can help mama and baby stay healthy after birth.