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  • You Need to Take a Break, Mom! How to Care for Yourself Postpartum

    Recover faster and care for your baby by getting the rest you need
    by Kate Borbon .
You Need to Take a Break, Mom! How to Care for Yourself Postpartum
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Giving birth to your child is a miraculous event that can also be quire tiring and difficult. If you're a first-time mom, we can only surmise that it's more challenging. However, it's not just the baby who needs to be taken care of. You need lots of TLC, too, mama!

    During the Smart Parenting Baby Shower event on April 13, 2019, Noelle Polack, a birth and postpartum doula with Pinay Doulas Collective, gave a talk on how to care for yourself after giving birth to your baby. Take note, moms (and dads)!

    Postpartum care and recovery tips

    In the first few days and weeks after giving birth, you will be going through different changes, both emotionally and physically. Making sure you get enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and getting support from your family can do wonders in helping you recover well.

    Get some rest

    Yes, it sounds impossible, especially because newborns generally don’t sleep through the night right away. But according to experts, getting plenty of rest is incredibly important for all moms who have just given birth.

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    Stanford Children’s Health shares some tips to make sure you get as much sleep as you can even during your baby’s first few days of life. For instance, sleep when baby is asleep, and make sure to place baby’s bed near yours so that when he wakes up in the middle of the night, you won’t have to waste time walking to a separate room to feed him. It might also be helpful to avoid entertaining too many guests for a while.

    That being said, Polack explained that ultimately, the best sleep method to use depends on your own experience and preference. “What gets the family the most sleep is the best method.”

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    Aside from sleep, other methods you can do to ensure you are well-rested in this period include meditation and getting a massage. “Find somebody who knows how to do it, who is trained,” suggested Polack. “Also, if you [had] a CS [birth], [find] somebody who knows how to handle CS moms.”

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    Finally, Polack, who practices aromatherapy in her profession, recommends it as a good way to help you rest up postpartum, though this would be better done once your baby reaches the four-month mark and not during his first three months. “In the first three months of life, who do they need to smell? You. So you don’t put anything on your breast that is going to disrupt that smell.”

    Eat healthy

    A healthy, well-balanced diet can promote your healing and recovery, and will also give you the energy you need to care for your newborn. According to Healthline, intake of grains, vegetables, fruits, and protein should be increased. If you are breastfeeding, make sure to also drink lots of fluids, such as water, milk, and fruit juices.

    Polack also suggests eating “things that support healing and collagen growth, so that your body heals faster. The faster your body heals, the faster you’re also going to feel better.” In her own experience, she cut back on foods and drinks containing caffeine and refined sugars, then started taking in more probiotics.

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    After giving birth, you might also experience constipation. However, it’s important not to force yourself to poop right away, because the muscles you use to defecate are the same ones you used in giving birth to your child. What can you do? “You can eat high-fiber food to help [ease your] bowel movement,” Polack said.

    You may be eager to lose the baby weight, but you don’t have to pressure yourself into losing the pounds right away. In fact, shedding weight too quickly can be dangerous not only for you, but also for your baby, especially if you are breastfeeding.

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    Exercise (when the doctor says so)

    Part of recovery after giving birth is getting a little bit of exercise, such as by walking. Don’t do anything too strenuous or demanding, such as lifting or carrying heavy objects. This is especially important if you experienced episiotomy (natural tearing) or gave birth via C-section.

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    Polack shared, “As soon as your doctor clears you, you can start doing pregnancy and postnatal exercises. Postnatal exercises are very useful.” But for now, just enjoy your time with your baby and don’t put unnecessary pressure or strain on your recuperating body!

    Enlist your family’s help

    Seeing as how your body is still quite fragile after giving birth, it’s not advisable for you to start cleaning the house and cooking meals when you return home. Let your partner or your relatives take the responsibility of caring for the house while you’re still recovering. You might even let them help you look after the baby so you can get the rest you deserve.

    According to Polack, before you give birth, delegating household tasks and chores to your spouse or to your companion is something that needs to be done. That way, it will be easier for you to adjust to parenthood later on. “If you’re able to set expectations early on before the baby comes, we run less risk of having unmet expectations, and we lower the risk that we resent each other in our transition into parenthood.”

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    The point is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Chances are, your family are more than willing to help you in any way they can! Having open communication is a must.

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    Seek treatment

    It’s completely normal to have a case of the baby blues after you give birth. Healthline says that 70 to 80 percent of new moms experience mood swings or negative feelings after giving birth. You might experience symptoms like unexplained crying, restlessness, and irritability for up to two weeks.

    However, when the symptoms last beyond two weeks, it might be a sign that you are going through postpartum depression. Aside from the signs indicated above, you might also go through feelings of guilt and worthlessness, loss of interest in activities you do all the time, or even, in some cases, thoughts of hurting your child and the tendency to withdraw from your family.

    If you think that you may be going through postpartum depression or feel that you might be experiencing any type of mood disorder after giving birth, getting help is crucial. “Don’t dismiss your feelings, get help if you need to,” she said. “Nobody expects you to be the best after having a baby.”

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    Create a postpartum plan

    To help make sure that you are well-cared-for after giving birth, Polack said that coming up with a postpartum plan can be extremely helpful. Aside from the tips stated above, other factors that should be included in the plan are the following:

    • Who is allowed to visit you in the hospital?
    • Who can you contact if you encounter issues with breastfeeding?
    • Who can you tap to help in caring for your older children (if this is not your first pregnancy)?

    Remember that you deserve to rest, too, mom. When you are able to rest, you are able to recover and heal, and finally, you can be happy and relaxed as you begin a new chapter of your life. As Polack said, “A happy mommy is a better mommy.”

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