If you feel like you’ve just completed a triathlon post-birth, you’re not alone. Many women and experts alike compare pregnancy and birth to the rigorous training and preparation period before such grueling races. You won’t get your pre-pregnancy body back overnight, but these proven tips that will help you ease into feeling like yourself again.
Manage Sleepless Nights
It’s going to be 8 weeks or more before you wake up one morning and realize your baby has slept through the night. While you never get used to being awakened in the night for nursing, you can help your body cope with your new schedule so that you feel as rested and ready to care for yourself and your baby as possible. Ease into motherhood by following these steps:
- Rest when you can: Your friends and family want to see the baby so let them; nap while they adore her
- Sleep when baby sleeps: Skip the housework or let someone else do that for you
- Give yourself permission to simply eat, sleep and care for yourself and your baby during this time
- Use pillows as positioners to help you get into the most comfortable nursing and sleeping positions
- Enjoy mild activity: It’s amazing how a short walk outdoors can rejuvenate your spirits
- Call your healthcare provider if your vaginal discharge becomes heavier or bright red after being darker
Your First Movement
Google “first postpartum poop” and you’ll find you’re not the only one anxious about that first movement after birth. If you didn’t eat much before going into labor, it could be a while before you feel the need to go. Experts at the Ohio State Medical Center say you can ease the anxiety and discomfort with these tips:
- Eat a high-fiber, healthy diet
- Stay hydrated: You need lots of water to help your body make breastmilk as well
- Ask your healthcare provider if you need a stool softener
- Call your healthcare provider if you haven’t had a bowel movement in 7 days
Not Feeling Normal Again?
After childbirth you may feel sad, weepy, and overwhelmed for a few days, and that’s typical, say experts at the National Women’s Health Information Center. But if those feelings don’t diminish within the first 2 weeks despite the sleepless nights, call your healthcare provider.
Postpartum depression can happen any time within the first year after birth. Call 911 or a family member right away if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. You might have postpartum depression if you’re:
- Feeling restless, sad, depressed or crying a lot
- Struggling to focus or are tired, forgetful or having trouble making decisions
- Disinterested in others, particularly your baby, or daily life, including eating and caring for yourself
- Without pleasure from regular activities, including holding and feeding your new baby
Nurses have lots of advice to help you get into the swing of caring for an infant while you’re struggling to care for yourself. Never hesitate to call your healthcare provider’s office if things just aren’t quite right for you or your baby.