While you can find a lot of information about what to expect during the nine months of your pregnancy, there’s a period that goes often ignored, and it’s arguably one of the most critical times for the mother— the fourth-trimester a.k.a the months following childbirth.
Healing means something different to everyone. For some, it means the absence of pain. For others, it’s regaining their pre-pregnancy body, and other moms struggle with the baby blues. Healing, by definition, is the process of becoming sound or healthy again. Whatever that is to you, we’ll cover some ways you can heal post-pregnancy.
In this article, we’ll unpack some of the changes your body may go through after childbirth and how you can go about healing faster.
Of course, every pregnancy experience and post-pregnancy recovery will be unique to the individual. Still, there are some things you can do to prepare for your fourth-trimester so that you can get back to your feeling like your confident, healthy self again.
- Keep Your Perineum Clean
- Take Care Of C-Section Incisions
- Keep The Area Clean
- Avoid Heavy Exercising Or Straining Your Core For At Least Eight Weeks
- Minimize C-Section Scarring
- Drink Plenty Of Water And Eat Well
- Prioritize Sleep
- Take Care Of Your Breasts
- Kegel Exercises To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor
- Wear A Postpartum Girdle
Keep Your Perineum Clean
If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, you can expect tenderness in the area between your vagina and rectum, called the perineum. It’s not uncommon for doctors to make an incision here to widen the vagina to help the baby pass through, which can lead to soreness and a more extended recovery period.
To make sure this area heals quickly, keep this area clean. You’ll experience discharge and vaginal bleeding up to 6 weeks after giving birth, which it’s perfectly normal. It’s a sign your body is healing by getting rid of the extra tissue and blood lining your uterus as it shrinks back to size.
You may want to wear heavy-flow pads the days following childbirth as you may experience dark red bloody vaginal discharge with some clotting. The amount of leakage and color will get progressively lighter, but it’s still a good idea to wear padding in your underwear and to change it often to avoid infections.
Take Care Of C-Section Incisions
Compared to vaginal deliveries, c-section births have a more extended recovery period. Although it’s a standard procedure, it’s still major abdominal surgery. You’re not just recovering from one incision but two — The doctor makes an incision through the abdominals and the uterus.
These incisions are about 4 – 6 inches long, and you can expect some scarring after the incision fully heals.
Here is some general care advice for c-section recovery:
Keep The Area Clean
You don’t need any chemicals to keep the incision clean. Wash the incision site with gentle, non-fragranced soap and water, but don’t scrub or soak the wound and gently pat to dry.
To help prevent infections and to reduce the appearance of scars, you can apply an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin or Polysporin before bandaging the incision (make sure you’re not allergic to these ointments).
Avoid Heavy Exercising Or Straining Your Core For At Least Eight Weeks
You may be tempted to get back into your fitness routine, but diving in too quickly after major abdominal surgery can set your progress back further. Your incisions need enough time to heal. Otherwise, you risk re-opening them.
Before you get back to exercising to shed the baby weight, get the green light from your doctor.
Bellefit moms who’ve had c-section deliveries wore a postpartum girdle to get them exercising more confidently. Find a corset made from breathable and flexible materials and medical-grade compression to support the abdominal muscles and lower back through your movements.
Minimize C-Section Scarring
How your scar heals will depend on many factors — If you’re lucky, your c-section incision will heal without a noticeable line across your belly. While there isn’t a way to tell how your scar will turn out, you can take some measures to minimize the appearance of the scar without the need for surgical procedures.
Silicone gels may help to keep the scar from becoming itchy and reduces the appearance of the discoloration by preventing bacteria-induced collagen production in the scar tissue.
Drink Plenty Of Water And Eat Well
Hippocrates — the father of medicine — once said, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Nourishing your body with the right food and staying hydrated is often overlooked when it comes to healing after giving birth to a new baby. However, it’s arguably one of the most important aspects of recovery.
If you’re struggling with the baby blues — a collection of symptoms that include depression, fatigue, mood swings, increased irritability, and difficulty bonding with the baby — eating healthy, whole foods can help you feel better overall.
With the right foods, you’ll find essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to help stabilize mood and maintain energy levels.
It’s also common for moms to experience constipation for up to a few days postpartum. Eating a wide range of nutrient-dense foods along with staying hydrated will give you the energy to fight off fatigue and keep constipation at bay. Constipation can lead to straining bowel movements and tears in your perineum.
Prioritizing sleep is undoubtedly one of those things that’s easier said than done, especially with a new baby now in the house-hold. While you may not be able to stick to your pre-pregnancy sleep routine, you should still do your best to make sleep a priority.
Sleep hygiene is one of the foundations of a healthy lifestyle, and it’s especially crucial for postpartum recovery. When you’re sleeping, the body releases hormones into the bloodstream responsible for tissue repair, energy balance, and responding to stress — which is essential for combating the baby blues or postpartum depression.
We understand it may not be easy to get in eight straight hours of shut-eye with a new baby. Sneak in naps whenever you can in the day, and don’t be afraid to ask for help so that you can catch up on the much-needed sleep.
Take Care Of Your Breasts
As soon as the baby’s born, your progesterone and estrogen levels drop, and the hormone prolactin rises to initiate breastfeeding. Your breasts may feel engorged and tender immediately postpartum — but it should subside within the first few days.
If your breasts remain swollen and sore, there are some tips you could try to ease the discomfort. You can start by getting a comfortable nursing bra that’s both supportive and requires minimal effort to access your breasts when it’s time to feed your baby.
When choosing a bra, it’s important to shop for the right fit. Make sure the bra is adjustable around the shoulder straps and that it’s not too tight around the torso as it may irritate. You also want to avoid bras that have a plastic lining (to prevent leakage) because it can lead to a buildup of moisture on the skin, leading to chapping.
Sometimes the baby can have trouble latching to the nipple during feeds if the breast is engorged. You can try taking a warm shower or apply a warm cloth to your breasts to help express milk or start the feeding session by pumping to soften the breast.
Kegel Exercises To Strengthen The Pelvic Floor
Due to the nature of vaginal delivery, it’s not uncommon for women to experience bladder issues. Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles below the uterus, bladder, and bowel, which can help you regain your bladder control to avoid unpleasant accidents.
The best part about this exercise is that there’s no extra equipment, space, or membership needed to get started — You can do these exercises either lying down or sitting, and no one even needs to know you’re doing them.
But before you get started, it’s best to figure out what muscles you’re working on. It’s the muscles that control the inner walls of your vagina and bladder flow. If you’re doing the exercises correctly, your thighs, butt, and abs shouldn’t engage.
Do these exercises up to three times a day — make sure your bladder is empty before you start.
Wear A Postpartum Girdle
We’ve briefly touched on the benefits of wearing a postpartum girdle in this article. Essentially, a postpartum girdle is a specialized garment that increases the comfort and recovery speed after giving birth.
The benefits of wearing a high-quality postpartum girdle or corset include:
- Protects c-section incision
- Offers extra support to the core to relieve lower back pain
- Reduces abdominal swelling
- Compression therapy promotes blood supply for a speedier recovery
- Girdles have accessible crotch openings that accommodate heavy flow pads for vaginal bleeding
- You can get to exercising sooner, strengthen the core and treat diastasis recti
- Fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes sooner
Our mission at Bellefit is to offer moms the best postpartum recovery garments that provide support and comfort. We have the most extensive range of FDA-registered postpartum girdles and corsets to choose from sizes XS – 3XL. If a speedy postpartum recovery is a priority for you — and it should be — you should invest in only the best.
Our garments are hard at work so that you can spend more quality time with your baby and get back to feeling like yourself sooner.