After nine long months, your date with your precious bub is finally here! Birthing your baby may be the most challenging thing you will ever have to go through but even after labour, the hard part is not over. The powerful contractions of your uterine muscles combined with the various hormonal changes that facilitated the birthing process can be taxing on your body.
At this point, a good rest is in order. While you are excited to spend every waking minute soaking in your newborn, it is especially vital that you work on restoring your health because postpartum recovery, which takes about 6 weeks, is crucial in preventing long term health complications.
So, with a little bit of discipline and a whole lot of help from your support system at home, these five tips will ensure that you stay in the pink of health!
Dietary requirements - You are what you eat!
As your body undergoes hormonal fluctuations postpartum, it is important to watch what you eat and avoid foods that could trigger mood swings.
What to eat
- Foods high in iron as a lot of iron is lost during childbirth.
- Foods high in protein to support healing of your postpartum wounds.
- Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that contain nutrients to help your body bounce back to its pre-pregnancy state.
- Continue taking your prenatal vitamins especially if you are breastfeeding.
What to avoid
Foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar as they can negatively affect your mood.
- Avoid caffeine as it can lead to dehydration.
Dealing with water retention
Contrary to popular belief, drinking water helps to reduce water retention. It also helps to, replenish lost fluids during childbirth and keep you hydrated to meet your body’s changing needs. How to get rid of water retention?
What you can do
Drinks lots of water. Especially if you are breastfeeding, because water is needed to produce breastmilk which is made up of 90% water.
- A good postnatal massage can help to stimulate proper blood circulation and reduce the swelling caused by water retention.
- Elevate your feet wherever possible, to encourage water to flow to other parts of your body and reduce the swelling around your ankles and feet.
What you shouldn’t do
- Eat foods that have high salt content. A high salt intake can increase water retention.
- Drink beverages with caffeine because caffeine causes dehydration.
Recovering from your postpartum wounds are a large part of a healthy and successful confinement.
What you should do?
Whether you have had a caesarean section or an episiotomy, make sure you clean and care for your wounds regularly as recommended by your doctor to ensure that they heal effectively to prevent infections.
What you shouldn’t do?
If you experience symptoms, such as increased swelling and intense pain, please do not try to treat these symptoms yourself. Instead, call your doctor immediately and make an appointment for a visit as soon as possible.
Adequate Sleep and Rest
The importance of sleep for recuperation, cell renewal and cell regeneration cannot be understated for a mother – postpartum. Sleep is extremely vital to promote hormonal balance and reduce feelings of anxiety, fatigue and irritation that can otherwise lead to postpartum depression.
What you should do?
Formulate an afterbirth plan before you pop. Hire a confinement nanny to help you during your confinement or call on family and friends to support you during this crucial time to help with cleaning, cooking and the management of your household while you recuperate and rest.
What you should avoid?
As your postpartum wounds are still fresh, refrain from any strenuous activities or exercises until you have been cleared by your healthcare practitioner. Besides carrying your newborn, avoid any sort of heavy lifting as this may further aggravate your wounds.
Managing Postnatal Blues
What are postnatal blues? They are feelings of irritation, fatigue, anxiety, guilt and loss of appetite which are very common as hormones take a dip immediately after childbirth. So, it is perfectly normal to feel less than okay as your body adjusts to the new changes it is experiencing.
What you should do?
- Constantly communicate your needs to your support system so that they may be able to respond in time and provide the help you require during this difficult time.
- Hand your newborn over to your husband or nanny if it is going through a bout of crying, then step away and take a break. Spending some time away from your baby gives you the mental space you need to reduce feelings of anxiety and to overcome the sense of helplessness that new mothers often face.
So, remember mommas, you have earned the privilege to kick back and relax during your confinement and be assured that this journey is just temporary. With the adequate amount of rest, support and nourishment, you will be back on your feet in no time!