If you are pregnant and about to have a baby, postpartum recovery tips may be on your mind pretty frequently. From the grimace and sympathetic smile you get from your mom to a friends dramatic horror-story of post-partum days, the days after having a baby may seem pretty scary on this side of birth. Thankfully, millions of women have gone before you in this journey—and many of them were kind enough to share some of the best postpartum recovery tips out there. Many of these tips can apply to both types of delivery, so read a section or read them all. Here are 17 tips to ease your mind, whether you are delivering via vaginal or cesarean birth.
8 Vaginal Postpartum Recovery Tips
- Get some rest. I know getting rest with a newborn can feel impossible, but your body just went through some major trauma and needs rest. Newborns sleep a lot, so try to sleep when the baby sleeps as much as possible. Delegate tasks to others and make snuggling your baby and sleeping your full-time job for a few days.
- Be prepared for hemorrhoids, as they are very common after the strain of pushing out a baby. While many women deal with them during pregnancy, nearly all moms get them post-birth. Take this postpartum recovery tip to heart and buy some hemorrhoid cream.
- Stock up on some massive pads, or even adult diapers. Yes, for you. I know, you’ll be changing diapers for two for a few days as you experience lochia, heavy postpartum bleeding. Lochia can last for up to six weeks (sorry) but is heaviest the first 3 to 10 days, before slowing down and eventually tapering off.
- Sitz baths will soon become your best friend. Sitting in warm, shallow water will help soothe your perineum postpartum. Plus, a sitz bath is great for hemorrhoids too. While you can do this in the bathtub at home in about three inches of water, the hospital will likely give you a sitz bowl that sits on the toilet for ease of use. Sitz baths can be used just with water or your provider may advise you to add medicine or Epsom salt with essential oils.
- Practice Kegel exercises to prevent incontinence and help sex become enjoyable faster. Kegels help tone your pelvic floor which can lead to a shorter delivery and a faster postpartum recovery and should be done during pregnancy (like right now!) and after.
- Ice, ice baby. If your vagina aches (and it might), ice is a drug-free, inexpensive way to soothe the ultimate sore muscle. Grab a ziplock bag or a compress and fill it with ice, then apply in five-minute intervals.
- A warm washcloth can work wonders for breast pain that can hit some mamas after birth as their milk comes in and they feel engorged. On the other hand, cold compresses applied to breasts can reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Practice hovering over the toilet if necessary. Most likely, your pelvic floor is going to feel extremely sore, so your regular potty position may not feel great. Hovering over the toilet or even sitting while leaning to the side may be your new comfort position—you won’t really know until post-baby, but might as well build up those thigh muscles now.
9 C-Section Postpartum Recovery Tips
- Here’s a postpartum recovery tip not many people talk about! Stock up on stool softeners and eat a diet with plenty of fiber to help ease the discomfort of your first postpartum poop. It might be TMI, but your abs are going to be sore and the last thing you want is the strain and stress of constipation.
- Make sure to keep your incision area clean. Your doctor will have specific instructions, but in general, you will want to gently clean with soap and water once per day and pat dry.
- Attend all of your doctor’s appointments. It’s so important for your doctor to take a look at everything and make sure you are healing correctly—even if it seems harder to get out and about with a newborn.
- Purchase—and use!—a high quality probiotic to help get your gut health in order after all the medication and other things that will be going on in your intestinal area.
- Walk, walk, walk. The best postpartum recovery tip I employed after my own c-section was to walk as soon as I was able. The day I delivered my daughter, I was walking around the hospital room and by day two I was walking laps around the maternity ward. It helped so much!
- Get a postpartum recover belt to cinch your stomach. Not only will a postpartum band help keep your sore stomach in check, but they are also said to help with bouncing back to your pre-pregnancy body somewhat faster.
- Eat plenty of protein. Your body just went through a major ordeal, and now is the time to replenish and help rebuild your muscles, especially if you didn’t exactly eat super healthy over the last nine months.
- Have a pillow handy that you can press over your incision site whenever you need to cough or laugh to protect the area.
- Stock up on high-wasted underwear (AKA granny panties!). After being sliced open, the last thing you want is your underwear elastic sitting right on the tender area.
With a little homework and pre-shopping, these postpartum recovery tips will guide you from birth right through postpartum.