Pregnancy and childbirth change a woman’s body. Some of these changes may be permanent, but physical therapy can help restore the muscles back to their normal strength.
It can take a while for the perineum to heal. You can try icing it, sitting on a padded seat or spraying it with a hemorrhoid cream that contains lidocaine.
1. Maintain a Healthy Diet
After carrying a growing baby and surviving labor and delivery, your body is in need of proper nourishment to recover. A nutrient-rich diet, full of protein, calcium, healthy fats and fiber, can stave off bone loss, replenish iron stores, head off hemorrhoids and more. A registered dietitian can help you navigate meal planning and dietary changes after delivery. Various online resources and community-based programs also provide research-based guidance.
It’s important to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help meet the nutrients you need in your 产后 修复 recovery. You should aim for three nutritious meals and one snack per day. Avoid fad diets and drink eight glasses of water daily to stay well-hydrated. If you are nursing, drink extra water to help ensure adequate milk production.
Women who are not breastfeeding should also be sure to get enough calories, protein, calcium and iron. Try a variety of lean meats, eggs and dairy products, whole grains, beans and leafy vegetables. Incorporate a serving of nuts or seeds with each meal to add in the essential omega-3 fatty acids.
When it’s safe, start gradually ramping up exercise to rebuild your weakened abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. But remember to listen to your body and stop if you feel pain or discomfort. Your OB-GYN can help you understand when to begin and when it’s time to slow down.
2. Stay Active
While it can be hard to get back into a regular exercise routine after having a baby, it’s important to stay as active as possible. Even just walking a few times a day while you push your new baby in the stroller can provide a huge energy boost and help your body feel more normal.
If you’re planning to take up running, walking or another high-intensity sport, make sure your doctor gives you the OK at your final checkup. You may need to start with lower-intensity exercises such as yoga or light aerobics until your doctor says it’s safe for you to move more.
A sedentary lifestyle and hormonal changes can increase your risk of postpartum pelvic problems, such as hemorrhoids, perineal hernias or de Quervain’s tenosynovitis. These issues can affect your ability to return to exercise and can make it harder to recover from musculoskeletal injuries, such as runner’s knee or back pain.
Kegel exercises can be done almost anywhere, including during breastfeeding, and can improve urinary incontinence for many women, regardless of their delivery method. If you’re still having trouble, specialized pelvic floor physical therapy can restore the strength of your muscles, reducing — and often eliminating — incontinence symptoms. In extreme cases, surgery can also repair abdominal muscle walls damaged by diastasis recti. If you’re having this problem, talk to your obstetrician or physical therapist about treatment options.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
All expecting mothers hear the infamous unsolicited advice, “sleep as much as you can before the baby comes.” That’s because new parents are generally the most exhausted they will ever be. The sudden shifts in hormone levels, accumulated fatigue from pregnancy, and the round-the-clock demands of caring for a newborn all contribute to sleep deprivation.
The risk for postpartum depression and anxiety rises sharply with sleep disruption, and a lack of quality sleep can also contribute to a variety of physical problems, including an interrupted circadian rhythm and inflammation that leads to gastrointestinal issues. A lack of sleep can also lead to irritability, which may come out in ways that are difficult to manage. New moms are apt to snap at people and become curt with others, even when they don’t feel like being mean. This behavior can negatively impact the new mom’s relationships, including her relationship with her partner and other close family members.
To help combat sleep problems, try to rest when the baby does, and consider asking for help. Friends and family can provide support by preparing meals, running errands, or taking care of older children. If you’re struggling with insomnia, talk to your doctor for a personalized treatment plan that will improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. This will help you recover from the exhaustion and restore your mental health, which in turn helps you take better care of your baby.
4. Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor will want to check in with you regularly, checking your weight, blood pressure and breasts. She will also examine your incision site, if you had a C-section. Call your physician if it becomes sore and red, or if you have greenish-yellow drainage or are bleeding. You will be given steri strips to keep your incision closed. Ask your doctor to remove them at your postpartum check.
Women who have had a cesarean section may experience bleeding (called lochia) for up to six weeks. It is normal, and it is made up of leftover blood and tissue from the uterus. During this time, you will need to use pads instead of tampons. Drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in fiber.
If you had a C-section, your doctor will give you instructions on how to care for the incision. It is important to follow these instructions, as it will help you heal faster and reduce the risk of infection.
If you are married, your partner can help you feel better by supporting you and encouraging you to talk to your OB/GYN about any feelings of depression or anxiety. Your OB/GYN can also recommend a mental health professional. If you deliver at Sharp, your maternity team can help you find the right one. A good therapist can help you work through any problems that are making it hard to cope.