Post Baby Recovery: What can you expect?

If there are many changes taking place in your body before pregnancy, there are lot more happening after the baby pops. Your body’s priority will be to fix the wears and tears from delivery. Getting back to shape is not on the immediate agenda. Here’s what you can expect in the postpartum days. - By Rashmi Ullas

The Postpartum Period

After what seems like an unending wait, the baby finally arrives and everything seems to double in pace. The new baby, the new chores, the emotional extravaganza…there’s only one thing you can say to yourself in these postpartum days – take it one step at a time!

Yet, beyond all this chaos, if there’s one thing that will keep you grounded, it’s your baby’s innocent face. Now, as you bond with the love of your life, it is important to slow down and rest, giving your body, the time, space and nourishment to heal, so you can enjoy the good days ahead. The journey may be harder in the beginning and you may experience:

Body Aches

There’s no comparison to how much pain the woman experiences during childbirth. At labour, there is extreme pressure on every part of the body. So naturally, the sore feeling in your body will continue to last for the next 4 to 6 weeks (and may take longer if you’ve had a C-section). Remember that you will recover, albeit slowly and everything in your body will eventually fall back in place (at least most of it). To help you recover, you must take plenty of rest and avoid even moderate physical activities, at least for the first 4 to 6 weeks.

Belly tightness

You may think that soon after labour, your stomach will return to its original size; but don’t be surprised if you still look almost 9 months pregnant after the baby pops. It takes six to eight weeks for the uterus to shrink back to normal size.

Even the fittest moms will notice that flab on their belly. Don’t stress too much about it this early because normal abdominal exercises (such as mild crunches or sit-ups, with the doctors advise) and a healthy diet can get you and your tummy back in shape.

The brown line (Linea Nigra) that mysteriously develops on the tummies during pregnancy will disappear after childbirth, but the stubborn stretch marks may stay on (sometimes as a tattoo forever).

Back Pain

As the abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate your new tenant, the back muscles also feel the pull. This pressure will only build further along the nine months, as the baby steadily grows in the womb. Poor posture can add to this pain so it is good to practise good posture through your pregnancy.

The back problems normally resolve within the first 6 weeks of giving birth, but it’s important to rest the back well to ensure it recovers. Back strengthening exercises could help in speedy recover. If you have persistent back pain over 2 to 3 months after delivery, see a doctor. Always seek your doctor’s guidance before embarking upon any physical activity.

Saggy breasts

Your voluptuous breasts may not look and feel as sensuous as it did. Soon after delivery, the breasts tend to look flushed, swollen, sore, and engorged with milk. But it will only take a couple of days for the swelling to subside. In the next three to four days and until you stop breastfeeding; your breasts will probably sag due to the stretched skin. You may also leak some of the extra milk for several weeks, even if you don’t breastfeed.

Vaginal pain

The entire vagina has also gone through a lot during delivery so for some days after the baby is out, your vagina may feel stretched and tender. Usually during vaginal birth, your doctor will make a small incision in the vagina to allow the baby slide through the opening more easily. This is important because otherwise your skin would tear haphazardly. In other words, you will also be coping with the post delivery stiches in this area.

The vaginal discharge, which is mostly blood and uterine tissue lining, can last for many weeks. The vagina will be ready for sex within four weeks of childbirth, but you may need some lubricants to deal with the vaginal dryness and pain. If you’re not breastfeeding, your periods may return within seven to nine weeks post delivery, but women who breastfeed may not see their periods for a few to several months.

Overwhelming emotions

Although the first few days post delivery is full of excitement and also exhaustion, the lack of sleep and the new responsibilities may take a toll on your emotions. Some women even face baby blues and postpartum depression and may need professional help to deal with their situation.

But, your loved ones can help

A new baby comes with lots of responsibility, which may seem even more challenging, because you’re physically exhausted. It is therefore important to get help. Having an elder (especially your mother) around during this time can be blissful. Family support plays a very important part in this healing process. Keep them close to you.

Caring for yourself in the postpartum days
• Get enough and more sleep and rest.
• Get help (especially from an experienced adult).
• Leave the house chores to family and friends.
• Drink a lot of fluids.
• Eat a balanced, nutritious diet.
• Try to relax with soft music and meditation.
• Let your partner/family know how you’re feeling.
• Get help if you need to.