From swollen feet and stretch marks to a newborn baby who depends on you 24/7, the postpartum phase presents a myriad of challenges for new mothers. For a smooth transition into this new chapter of your life, preparation is key.
As your body recovers and you adjust to your new role as a parent, the first days and weeks with your newborn can be a stressful time. To minimize stress, it’s essential to make a plan prior to your baby arriving.
Until you’ve had a baby, it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around just how difficult the postpartum period will be. Preparing for your postpartum experience can make a big difference in both your physical and mental well-being.
Since your focus will likely be elsewhere after giving birth (on your newborn baby, for example), it’s critical to spend time making a postpartum plan prior to delivery. Doing so will help streamline the transition and allow you to enjoy your time with your infant. It could even help ward off postpartum depression.
Preparing for your postpartum phase doesn’t need to be time-consuming, and even a little effort spent on planning now can save you from a world of stress and discomfort down the road.
Understanding Postpartum Recovery
Before you can make a plan for recovery, you need to understand what the postpartum period entails. After giving birth, the Journal of Prenatal Medicine notes that the postpartum period comprises three phases: the acute phase, the subacute phase, and the delayed phase.
The acute phase lasts for the first six to 12 hours post-delivery, the subacute phase is the following two to six weeks, and finally, the delayed phase lasts for up to six months.
Throughout these three postpartum phases, women experience a variety of symptoms as their bodies recover from giving birth. These postpartum symptoms can include stretch marks, hair loss, joint pain, and swelling.
According to the APA, a woman’s body produces 50% more blood and body fluids during pregnancy. Medical News Today reports that this influx of fluid frequently results in swelling or puffiness postpartum, most notably in the face and legs. Such swelling can increase the risk of developing varicose veins in the legs as well as on the genitals. Vulvar varicosities affect approximately 20% of women but typically disappear within six weeks of delivery.
New mothers should also be aware of postpartum endometritis, a medical condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in the abdomen. It occurs in between one and three out of every 100 women and is 20 times more common following a cesarean section.
Common symptoms of postpartum endometritis include fever, pain in the lower abdomen, uncomfortable urination, and heavy bleeding from the vagina. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, you may be suffering from this condition which can potentially be life-threatening if left untreated.
Fortunately, postpartum endometritis can be treated with prescription medication such as Orilissa. Doctors frequently prescribe Orilissa when new mothers are experiencing moderate to severe pain. If you’re experiencing pain during sexual intercourse, your doctor may suggest a higher dosage.
Planning for Postpartum
Understanding the postpartum phases as well as being aware of medical conditions like postpartum endometritis are important parts of planning for postpartum. You may want to include such information in your written postpartum plan, which Parents contributor Carrie Murphy suggests putting together prior to delivery.
Since you’ll likely be too tired to cook, your postpartum plan should cover food for while you’re recovering. If possible, you can prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them. Then, they’re available and easy to heat up when you’re too busy with your newborn to make something from scratch.
While taking care of your nutritional needs and physical health is obviously important, so is prioritizing your mental well-being. As a new mother, it’s essential to take care of your mind and emotions. In the excitement and commotion of bringing a new baby home, many women overlook this aspect of their postpartum plan.
Remember that you don’t have to navigate this challenging period alone. Setting boundaries and knowing who you will ask for help is an important part of your postpartum plan.
Simple Postpartum Recovery Tips
With the goal of keeping you from feeling overwhelmed, postpartum plans should be easy to follow. You can incorporate simple recovery tips into your postpartum plan to combat a variety of symptoms.
To flush out extra fluid that causes swelling, Gettik suggests drinking plenty of water during the postpartum phase. Consider purchasing compression socks to further combat swollen feet and ankles.
Taking a bath has benefits for both your physical and mental health. Not only will the warm water help to loosen any tight muscles that you may have strained during delivery, it’s also a great way to relax when you need some time to yourself.
From gathering simple recovery tips to making a written plan, preparation is key for a positive postpartum experience. As your body heals and you adjust to your new role as a mother, it’s sure to be a challenging time. However, with a little preparation, you can greatly reduce stress and focus your energy on what’s most important.