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Top Five Postpartum Tips from a Midwife

Top Five Postpartum Tips from a Midwife

 

Lydia Connolly is a Registered Midwife and the founder of Partum Panties. This blog was originally posted on Baby HQ on the 8/08/2022.

If you’re an expectant mother, your mind is likely firmly on getting through these next few weeks/months - and of course, meeting your baby! You’re probably spending your spare time shopping for cute outfits, kitting out your nursery and ensuring you have all the supplies you need on hand to care for your precious little one.

But – don’t forget about you, Mama! Seriously, so many new mothers overlook their own care and comfort as they’re so focused on the wonderful little life growing inside of them. You are important too, and as they say – you can’t pour from an empty cup!

There’s a reason the first three months are referred to as “the fourth trimester” – and it’s because this is a time of huge transition and adjustment for both you and your baby.

As a midwife, I’ve cared for hundreds of new mothers and their newborns, and I’d love to share with you my five top tips to ensure you have the best fourth trimester possible!

1. Put your recovery first

I know, I know – but this is none of that “sleep when the baby sleeps” nonsense, I promise! Sleep is SO important, it’s true, and I absolutely encourage you to get as much shut eye as possible… but I’m talking about REST here. Whether you’ve given birth vaginally, or via Caesarean Section, your body has been through so much and it’s so important to allow time for relaxation and recovery. Light exercise is great - and encouraged - but try to avoid anything too strenuous until you’ve been cleared medically.

2. Care for “down there”

You’re going to be sore and tender in places you never imagined, but there are a few things you can do or start thinking about now to prepare yourself and ensure you’re as comfy as possible!

Grab a Peri Bottle – if you experience tearing during birth (most women do), then this specially designed bottle can be used to squirt water around the area while you urinate to ease stinging. You can purchase one on our website here.

Padsicles – ice can provide HUGE relief to a swollen perineum especially in the first 24 hours after giving birth. You can use pads (postpartum underwear is also a great option and stays in place better) – just flip them inside out, add witch hazel and aloe vera, reflip and then freeze in a zip lock bag. Tutorial here.

Haemorrhoids – these are super common and can occur as a result of pregnancy and birth. A “sitz” bath can provide great relief from itching and discomfort. You can use your regular bath, or purchase a kit. You can find specific sitz bath blends, but Epsom Salts and warm water can also help to ease symptoms.

Bleeding   After giving birth, you can expect to bleed for around six weeks (Lochia). As women, we are generally used to bleeding as it’s something we go through monthly, however, the way we manage Lochia isn’t the same as how we manage menstrual blood. Internal solutions such as tampons and menstrual cups aren’t recommended as during this time, there’s a higher risk of infection (you still have a placenta-sized wound in your uterus!). Pads are a great option, but disposable underwear provides an extra level of comfort as the absorbent layer is held firmly in place, while the waist band comes up nice and high to protect and support your abdomen.

3. Fill your freezer

After having a new baby, the last thing you’re going to want to do is cook meals. However, if you’re breastfeeding you may also find yourself insatiably hungry and it’s so important to make sure you’re getting adequate nutrition! If you have time in those final weeks of your pregnancy, try to cook some extra meals that are freezer-friendly – think lasagne, soup, casserole etc. These can be easily heated up for a quick dinner on those nights where the cluster feeding takes over and you are just too tired to spend time in the kitchen.

If you have friends and family who are offering to help, another great option is a meal train. Have them each cook a meal that you can pop in the freezer.

If you don’t have time to cook, there are also some great freezer meal options around these days, and some fabulous meal delivery services (subscriptions to these make great baby shower gifts – hint, hint).

4. Set boundaries with visitors

Your loved ones are going to be very excited to meet your new baby – there is nothing more precious than a newborn. However, you and your baby are getting to know each other and you are still working through your recovery. If your partner has taken some work leave, this is also cherished bonding time.

I encourage you to take things as slow as you need. If you feel ready for visitors – go for it! But if you’d really just love to have this time to yourselves, just be honest. Ask your partner to have those conversations if necessary – but just be really open with your loved ones.  Most of them will understand that you’ll let them know as soon as you are ready to get social!

Another thing is - you are not responsible for entertaining visitors. If they visit, they can bring or make their own cuppa. Better yet - ask them to bring something with them such as morning tea or dinner to lessen the load on you. Oh, and if they ask to help with your laundry, or grab a few things from the shops, please don’t feel bad about taking them up on their offer! This is the time in your life where it’s more okay than ever to ask for or accept help - you have earned this, Mama. Let your loved ones help you.

On that note…

5. Don’t hesitate to ask for help!

While new mothers are absolute superheroes in my books, there are no medals for burning yourself out either. If you’re struggling it’s OK to ask for help – whether that’s someone to talk to, or having someone help with some of the physical tasks that you are finding stressful.

It’s also important to know that in those first few weeks after birth, it’s really normal for your emotions to be all over the place. Up to 80% of postpartum women experience what is known as “the baby blues” as a result of not only the massive changes going on, but also the hormonal fluctuations following birth that can lead to feelings of stress, overwhelm, exhaustion and sadness. This can take many new mothers by surprise, but typically eases within a couple of weeks.

If you find things are not improving, are getting worse or you’re experiencing anxiety, despair, distressing thoughts, trouble sleeping or an inability to find joy in bonding with your baby, then it’s important to talk about this, Mama. Chat to your partner and your Dr/Midwife. Up to one in five postpartum mothers experience a postnatal mood disorder such as postnatal depression/anxiety/OCD and there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. We are here to ensure you get the help you need to thrive as the amazing mother you are! 

It’s a good idea to line all your support systems up before baby even arrives. This could be a GP you feel comfortable with, a Lactation Consultant that understands your goals, and of course your family and friends. Have their contact details handy, so should you need help or support with anything at all, you or your partner can get in touch with them and make a plan.

Oh, and Mama! You’ve totally got this!

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