Taking care of yourself after childbirth
With Stewart Friedman, MD, OB/Gyn with The Christ Hospital
As a new mother, you will get a lot of advice on caring for your baby. It is important that you also take care of yourself during this time. Stewart Friedman, MD, Ob/Gyn with The Christ Hospital recommends the following tips to help you stay healthy the weeks following pregnancy.
If you are breastfeeding, be sure to air your nipples between feedings and wear a supportive bra, preferably not underwire. Nurse your baby often, every two to three hours. Take a warm shower or apply a warm compress to your breast just before feeding, and massage any full areas of your breasts toward your nipples. If you are not breastfeeding and your milk still “comes in,” wear a good support bra and take pain medication. Some women find ice packs helpful. Don’t run hot water on your breasts or nurse your baby, since this will stimulate milk production—just what you don’t want.
Your doctor will tell you if you have any special dietary needs. In general, you may eat anything you like, while observing the guidelines of sensible nutrition. If you gained a little too much weight during pregnancy, you will want to stay away from fattening foods until your normal figure has returned.
Many mothers want to know if they should avoid certain foods while breastfeeding. As a rule, you should avoid foods containing caffeine. Otherwise, eat a variety of foods for a healthy, well-balanced diet. If you find that several hours after eating a certain food your baby is fussy, cut down on the amount, or try the food again when your baby is older.
As long as you are steady on your feet, you may shower and shampoo any time after delivery. Your doctor may allow you to take a tub bath with about four inches of water in the tub. Avoid bubble baths and perfumed oil baths, since they’re irritating to the birth canal. If you have uncomfortable stitches or hemorrhoids, try a sitz bath three times a day for a soothing remedy.
Even the healthiest of women find they may tire easily during the weeks or months after a baby’s birth. Trying to take on too much too soon can exhaust you and make any emotional letdown even worse. The solution is easy – the moment you feel tired, rest. Alternate an hour of activity with an hour of resting with your feet up. A good way to do this is for you to rest when your baby rests.
Follow these tips to avoid fatigue:
- Don’t climb stairs more than necessary.
- Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby. When you do lift, use your knees as a lifting force to avoid strain on your back.
- Let your family and friends help with chores, meals and baby care.
- Dress and diaper your baby at a level where you don’t have to bend.
Dealing with the blues
Although these days will be a wonderful time for you and your new family, don’t be surprised if you feel depressed without reason. Perhaps you feel let down after the excitement and anticipation of the last few months. Perhaps you’re having increasing doubts about your ability to cope with the around-the-clock demands of motherhood. You may feel resentful – and guilty about your feelings of resentment – at being tied down with your new responsibilities as a mother. Keep in mind that these postpartum emotions are quite common and part of the adjustment new parenthood requires. In a week or two, you and your family will become accustomed to your new responsibilities and lifestyle.
Postpartum doctor’s visit
Unless you have a problem that requires seeing your doctor earlier, you should arrange for a follow-up examination about three to six weeks after your baby is born. At that time, your doctor will check your general physical condition and give you a thorough exam. If you have had a Caesarean delivery, your doctor will let you know when you should make an office visit.
For more information on what to expect after pregnancy, visit www.TheChristHospital.com or call 877-904-4YOU.