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How to recover from giving birth

Giving birth is a huge physical and emotional experience so it’s important that you give yourself time to recover fully over for a couple of months after.

It can feel hard to think about you and taking care of yourself when your new baby is demanding all of your attention but it’s important to try.

A vaginal birth

After birth, you will feel sore and tender which can last a few weeks. It’s completely normal for you to bleed quite heavily for the few weeks or so. Use absorbent sanitary towels and remember to change them regularly. It’s not advised to use tampons until you have been given the go ahead after your 6-week postnatal check.

After you’ve had a baby you’ll probably find that when you laugh or cough you’ll pee a little. But this is completely normal. Try some pelvic floor exercises to build up these muscles again, your doctor will be able to give you advise at your postnatal check-up.

Episiotomy

If you’ve had an episiotomy you will have had stitches that you need to keep clean. Try taking a shower or bath every day and wash with clean warm water and pat yourself dry.

When you pee it can sting, but try not to worry every time you need to use the toilet. A good way to try and manage this is by drinking lots of water to help dilute your urine. You can also try peeing in the shower while the water runs over you, or use a bottle of water to pour over your vagina when you go. 

A caesarean section

A C-section is major surgery and it can take around 6 weeks or longer to recover. Recovery time depends a lot on whether you experienced any problems during the procedure and your home lifestyle. Sometimes if you have other children to take care of, this can add a few more weeks onto your recovery.

You will feel sore and bruised during these 6 weeks and your wound can feel itchy. Usually, your midwife will check how you are healing and remove your dressing and stitches or clips after about a week. 

Just try to remember to keep it clean and dry every day to prevent any infection.

With this in mind there are a few things you should try and avoid doing during your recovery period:

  • Driving - it’s a good idea to refrain from driving until around 6 weeks after your C-section, or maybe a little longer if you still feel sore.
  • Exercising - a little bit of light activity is a good thing like a short walk around the park or to the shop. Just don’t try to do your usual Tuesday night Zumba class until you have recovered and your doctor has said its ok.
  • Sex - again, try and avoid having sex until you have recovered and feel able to.
  • Lifting - avoid lifting anything that’s heavier than your baby as it could damage your wound.

Pain management

If you need pain relief to help you manage the soreness then your doctor or midwife might suggest you take paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Just remember to check that your pain medication is safe to use when breastfeeding with your healthcare provider.

To help manage your discomfort try and take it easy. Get up and sit down slowly and don’t rush getting in and out of bed.

Regardless of how you gave birth, you might also experience:

  • You’ll feel your uterus contracting back to its pre-pregnancy size which can feel like period pains.
  • Your breasts will produce a yellow liquid for your baby before you start to produce milk.

Emotional recovery

Recovery isn’t just about the physical aspects either, adjusting to a new arrival brings with it a whole host of emotions. You might feel:

  • over emotional
  • tearful
  • irritable
  • worried or anxious

It’s quite common to feel like this for a few days after you’ve had a baby. After all, your hormone levels will be adjusting back to pre-pregnancy levels and you’ll be trying to adjust to your new normal.

However, if these feelings continue or worsen as time goes on, speak to your family, friends and loved ones. It could be that you are suffering from postnatal depression. This is nothing to be ashamed of, 1 in 10 new mothers suffer and it doesn’t mean you are a bad mother. Visit the NHS website for more information and book an appointment with your GP.

Important advice for you

Breastfeeding gives your baby the best start in life. The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of your baby’s life, followed by continued breastfeeding together with complementary foods.

Breastmilk promotes your baby’s sensory and cognitive development, it protects your baby against infectious and chronic diseases and can help your baby to recover quicker during illness.

Unlike infant milks, breastfeeding also contributes to your health and well-being, reducing the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer.  It can also build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby.

Breastfeeding is safe for the environment. You should also consider the social and financial implications of using infant milk. It is important for you to eat a healthy, balanced diet during your pregnancy and as you breastfeed. Combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding may reduce your breast milk supply and it may be difficult to reverse the decision not to breastfeed.

Please take advice from your healthcare professional before using Baby & Me Organic. If you do choose to use our products, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions very carefully as incorrect preparation may make your baby ill.

The content provided in this article is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as medical advice. Please consult a doctor, midwife or healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about your or your child’s health.