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Recovery after Birth

Rest and Relaxation – ‘Sleep baby Sleep’

After labour you may feel exhausted, both physically and mentally. It is very important to remember the need for rest and sleep which will give your body time to heal and prepare for feeding and caring for your new baby. Try these tips to help you through the first few days:

Restrict visitors – whether you are birthing at hospital or home, ask visitors to wait until you have recovered from the birth and are settled at home before visiting.

‘Do not Disturb’ – If you are in hospital put a note on the door saying, ‘Mum & baby sleeping, please do not disturb’. This will stop the cleaner coming in to empty your rubbish bin or Aunt Mabel popping in to say hi.

Ask for Help – Ask your partner, friend or family member to take the baby for a walk around the hospital corridor and into the hospital lounge so you can have some uninterrupted rest.

 

Natural Solutions to Common Aches & Pains:

Perineum Soreness
Aftercare and proper recovery is very important to relieve the pain and discomfort after a virginal birth and an episiotomy. You want to avoid any risk of infection and complications. Try the following:

  • Add salt to your bath water to ease pain and help heeling
  • Make sure that you cleanse the perineum area at all times, especially after using the toilet – use a squirt bottle filled with lukewarm water to the vaginal and rectal areas, then pat dry with a clean soft towel
  • Apply cold packs or ice packs to the perineum area to reduce swelling
  • Change maternity pads regularly
  • Move around as often as possible to increase blood circulation and speed the healing process
  • Keep the perineum area dry and wear cotton underwear
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects or strenuous activity as the strain may cause bleeding and break the stitches
  • Take Arnica tablets to help with the bruising
  • Strengthen pelvic muscles by practicing Kegel exercises after you have healed

After Pains
After pains are the name given to contractions that occur after giving birth. These contractions signal the process of involution, the process of your uterus shrinking back down to its pre-pregnancy size and shape. They are not a cause of concern but can be uncomfortable.

Your uterus has spent the last nine months of pregnancy growing nearly twenty-five times its original size. The contractions after the birth help it shrink back down in about four to six weeks.

You may notice these contractions most intensely in the first few days after giving birth. You may also notice them more when you breastfeed. This happens because the uterus is still sensitive to the oxytocin released while feeding.

Try these remedies for dealing with after pains:

  • Apply warm heat to your stomach (or back).
  • Drink chamomile tea. Chamomile is considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with no known adverse effects in lactation. This is a great remedy for after birth pain due to uterine involution.
  • Aromatherapy – Mix 1 ounce carrier oil (olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, or sweet almond oil), 5 drops lavender oil, 10 drops cypress oil, and 15 drops of peppermint oil. Gently massage a small portion over the affected area.
  • Add Epsom and/or sea salt with one or more of the following essential oils to warm bath water: lavender, jasmine, chamomile, peppermint, rosemary.
  • Some women find relief from after birth pain by lying on their stomach with a pillow placed under it to apply abdominal pressure or by rocking in a rocking chair.
  • Many women use a TENS machine to help alleviate the pain from after pains.

 

Haemorrhoids

This condition is very common, especially during pregnancy and after childbirth. Haemorrhoids result from increased pressure in the veins of the anus. The pressure causes the veins to bulge and expand, making them painful, particularly when you are sitting. To relieve pain and help healing, apply warm and cold compresses alternately on the affected region. This will help in easing the painful and burning sensation caused by this condition. You can also relax by soaking yourself in a warm bath for effective relief from the pain and discomfort. You can also apply aloe vera gel on the affected area in order to soothe the inflamed veins.

 

Constipation

After giving birth the perineum area can be very painful and some women have a fear of passing a bowel motion. In the first couple of days after giving birth, try eating kiwifruit and eating high fibre foods such as multi-grain breads, bran and other bran-based cereals. Some maternity hospitals have a drink called ‘Kiwi Crush’ or you can purchase this yourself from a supermarket.

 

Pelvic Floor Muscles

Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken your pelvic floor muscles. Luckily, when these muscles get weak, you can help make them strong again. Pelvic floor muscles are just like other muscles. Exercise can make them stronger. Women with bladder control problems can regain control through pelvic muscle exercises, also called Kegel exercises.

 

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises have been proven effective in treating urinary incontinence as these strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. You can begin doing Kegel exercises a couple of days after childbirth.

You can find your pelvic floor muscles by recognizing the muscles you use to stop the flow of your urine in midstream or with the help of your health professional. Kegel exercises are done by contracting and releasing the pelvic floor muscles several times in a movement similar to stopping the flow of urine. The best way to perform
Kegel exercises is to do the following:

  • Empty your bladder.
  • Lie down and concentrate on finding your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Contract your muscles and hold it for 3 seconds
  • Relax for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise 10 times.
  • Once you have perfected your 3-second exercises, increase the time of contraction and release to 4 seconds.
  • Develop your Kegel workout gradually until you are able to hold your muscles at 10-second intervals, alternating between contracting and relaxing.