New Moms: How to Care for Yourself After Giving Birth
Post-partum, sometimes called the “fourth trimester” is the first weeks to a couple of months after the infant arrives. It is important to optimize the health of the mother and baby and a post-partum plan can help with that. It is hard at times for new moms to know how to care for themselves after giving birth. Several areas include rest, nutrition, movement, support network, and mental health.
Rest is very important for your body. Your body has gone through a lot of changes over the last 9 months. Not to mention, that delivering a baby and taking care of an infant is hard work. If you aren’t well rested it will be more difficult from a physical and mental clarity standpoint to care for your baby. So as the saying goes, when the baby sleeps, try and sleep yourself. Overall, sleep helps improve brain performance, mood, and health.
Nutrition is a very important part of your recovery, even more so if you are nursing the baby. First, food is medicine and can help support your bones, muscles, and mind. Nursing women need to consume about 500 more calories to stay healthy and produce nutritious breast milk. It is recommended that eating lean meats, high-fiber foods, low-fat dairy (helps with calcium for your bone health) and a variety of fruits and vegetables will keep your diet balanced. Staying hydrated is also very important for milk production and prevents cramping in your muscles. The better you eat the more nutritious the breast milk will be for the baby.
Exercise and Movement
Starting slowly and building up to longer walks is a great start right after having a baby. Your body just when through some major changes and is continuing to change post-baby. Before starting more vigorous exercise, your health care provider will give you clearance based on the type of delivery- vaginal or c-section. Seeing a women’s health physical therapist can be very beneficial post-pregnancy. Physical therapy can help with any urinary leakage, diastasis recti, scarring from c-sections or perineal tearing, clogged milk ducts, and body aches/pains. The therapist can give suggestions on posture for nursing, lifting/carrying your infant, and strategies on how to move to prevent injury.
Your body needs to adjust after being stretched for the last 9 months. Even seeing a PT for just 1-2 visits to assess muscle strength, muscle restrictions or movement patterns can help prevent future aches and pains. In general, exercise promotes weight loss, improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens/tones muscle, boosts energy levels, relieves stress, decreases symptoms of postpartum depression, and promotes better sleep.
There are many professionals such as women’s health physical therapists, lactation consultants, and doctors that are here to support women that just had a baby. Friends and family can also be very helpful to come watch your infant while you rest, take a shower, run out to the store, or do other errands. Many communities also have mom social and exercise groups.
Post-baby blues affects one in 8-10 women due to fluctuating hormones. Positive self-talk, decreased social media, exercising, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and having a supportive network can help keep your spirits and mood stay positive.
Carving out time to take care of yourself after giving birth can be challenging, allow our Women’s Health Specialists to assist you in making the transition easier. Schedule your appointment today.