POSTPARTUM RECOVERY: CARE FOR THE NEW MAAMA
Your newborn might be your top priority — but postpartum care counts too.
You’ve finally put 40 (or so) weeks of pregnancy and long hours of childbirth behind you, and you’re officially a mother. Congratulations! Now comes the transition from pregnancy to postpartum, which brings with it a variety of new symptoms and questions.
The postpartum period involves the mother progressing through many changes, both emotionally and physically, while learning how to deal with all the changes and adjustments required with becoming a new mother. The postpartum period also involves the parents learning how to care for their newborn and learning how to function as a changed family unit.
A mother needs to take good care of herself to rebuild her strength. You will need plenty of rest, good nutrition, and help during the first few weeks.
Help your perineum heal. Ice your perineum every couple of hours for the first 24 hours post-birth. Spray warm water over the area before and after peeing to keep urine from irritating torn skin, and try warm sitz baths for 20 minutes a few times a day to ease the pain.
Care for your C-section scar. Gently clean your C-section incision with soap and water once a day. Dry with a clean towel, then apply antibiotic ointment. Talk to your doctor about whether it’s better to cover the wound or leave it open to air out. Avoid carrying most things (besides your baby).
Do your Kegels. There’s no better way to get your vagina back in shape, make sex more enjoyable for you and your partner, and resolve postpartum urinary incontinence — no matter how you delivered. So get started as soon as you’re comfortably able, and aim for three sets of 20 every day.
Be kind to your breasts. For achy breasts, try using a warm compress or ice packs and gentle massage. Also, be sure to wear a comfortable nursing bra. If you’re breastfeeding, let your breasts air out after every nursing session and apply a lanolin cream to prevent or treat cracked nipples.
Keep your doctor appointments. Checking in with your doctor is essential since it helps to ensure that everything is healing as expected. Your OB/GYN can also check in with you emotionally and, if necessary, suggest how to get help to adjust to being a new mom. If you had a C-section, be sure to make your appointment to remove your stitches, as leaving them in for too long can make scars look worse. And of course definitely let your doctor know if you have any symptoms that concern you, like fever, pain or tenderness around an incision.