*Affiliate links are in this post. I may receive a commission from any purchases made from links within this post. Please see my full disclosure here.
Listen, I HATED postpartum recovery. I’m an active person and I was so ready for the uncomfortable stage of pregnancy to end so I could get back to moving about freely. Naively, I thought you pop a baby out, give it a couple of days, then bam! back to normal. No, no, no. That is not how it works. I blame myself for going into postpartum recovery so blind. I researched nothing about it. So, if you’re pregnant now and reading this you are already ahead of where I was, and if I survived you will too. Remember this… when it’s weeks after you’ve delivered and you are still sore and you start to wonder if this is the new normal, take comfort it is not. I didn’t believe it then, but I promise, you will feel like you again. Just give it time. Here are the best ways to ensure you’re postpartum recovery is successful.
Stay Away From Posts About Women Getting Their Bodies Back in X-Amount of Weeks
This one is HUGE, and why it needs to be addressed first. My midwife lectured me about resting. She explained how women used to stay in bed for four weeks after giving birth. So, I felt empowered to do just that. I stayed in bed and took hot baths, but then Pinterest happened. I was overwhelmed with the amount of pressure to “get my body back.” And not only get it back, but get it back quickly.
Simple searches on Pinterest about postpartum always led me to a post about some exercises some woman was doing four weeks postpartum, or a picture of a woman with a flat stomach and abs titled “How I Lost the Baby Weight in 6 Weeks.” That’s awesome for those women, it truly is. More power to them. However, when you’re a few weeks out and your hormones are raging, you haven’t slept, and your lady parts feel like they’ve been hit by a bus, the last thing you need is pressure and guilt that you should have started a workout routine already.
Take the time for your body to heal. Your workout routine will be there in three months, six months, a year postpartum. I constantly compared myself to other women, and tried doing too much too soon. By not allowing my body to rest as much as it needed, it slowed my recovery down even more.
So, listen to your body. If what you are doing causes pain or discomfort, don’t push through it. Stop. You’ll get back to it eventually.
Eat Lots of Fiber
Oh the dreaded first postpartum poop. I legitimately was terrified to poop after giving birth. The thought of pushing anything else out of me made me contemplate never eating again. If nothing is going in nothing can come out right? I follow a vegan diet, and I have never been more thankful for it. Vegans, naturally, consume high amounts of fiber. This coupled with the fact my muscles controlling bowel movements were shocked due to pushing, I had no problem with the first postpartum poop. In fact, I actually ended up with no control over it and pooped myself several times those first few weeks.
This can happen, but isn’t common. Most likely it will not happen to you. However, your muscles can be so worn out due to pushing that it takes them awhile to recoup. That’s what happened to me.
I highly recommend you eat tons of fiber. Leading into the last few weeks of pregnancy start increasing your daily fiber intake. You will be so thankful. You can increase your fiber intake by eating things like:
Try making berry and flax smoothies daily. The ground flax adds a nice, smooth consistency.
These are a must!!! I continually say these saved my life during my first few weeks postpartum. The hospital will supply you with some while you are admitted, but you need your own once you are home. You will be swollen down there for some time. Words cannot describe how good ice-cold pads feel on your lady parts. Take some time your last few weeks of pregnancy to make a stock pile. They are super easy to make.
How to Make Padsicles Items Needed
What to do
- Open overnight pads
- Pour Witch Hazel on pads
- Smear aleo vera gel on pads
- Add a few drops of lavender EO
- Fold pads back up
- Place in ziploc bag
- Put in freezer
- Use as needed
Trust me when I say you will be so thankful you made these. I made mine last minute because I saw them as a plus not a must. I now realize they are an absolute must!
Raspberry Leaf Tea is woman’s best friend. Packed full of benefits for women, Red Raspberry Tea provides a lot of support for the postpartum. Women who drink it during postpartum recovery report their bleeding to have stopped sooner than women who don’t drink it.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea also helps to tighten and tone the uterus. Before pregnancy your uterus starts off around the size of a pear. By full-term it has increased to the size of a watermelon! Red Raspberry Leaf Tea aids the uterus as it shrinks back down. I knew of the benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, but it still took me awhile to drink it. About six weeks out I remember still noticing things down there. No pain, just felt different (really hard to explain). Honestly the best way I can explain it is it just felt lose up in there.
So, I started drinking the tea and no joke days later the feeling went away. Women also report a boost in milk supply from drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea. Like most natural remedies, no clinical trials exist. All evidence is anecdotal. However, I consistently drink the tea and have never experienced a dip in milk supply.
Buy a Donut Pillow
Just do it. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance you will develop hemorrhoids from pushing. I did. Hemorrhoids are not fun, and they occur during the worst time. You’re too sore to stand and walk and now you’re too sore to sit. A good donut pillow will keep you from loosing your mind like I did because you can’t find ONE comfortable position. To help ease the hemorrhoid pain I also recommend taking daily sitz baths and using Preparation H Medicated Wipes. You won’t want to use dry toilet paper for a long time, and these wet wipes come with the added bonus of soothing hemorrhoid pain.
Breastfeed (if you can)
Breastfeeding helps so much in postpartum recovery. When your baby latches on, it releases oxytocin (the love hormone). This hormone not only allows you to bond with your baby, but it helps the uterus to contract, speeding up the process of returning to normal size. Breastfeeding in the beginning can be a challenge. You and your baby are both learning a new skill, but stick with it! Trust me when your baby is eight months old like mine, you will be so happy you don’t have to take the time to make formula. To make breastfeeding easier in those early months, invest in a good nursing pillow. I used this one, and recommend it to everyone! It supports your baby, and saved my back during all those cluster feeds! Also, I recommend some sort of nipple cream for the first couple of weeks. I used Lansinoh, and only needed it for about three weeks. Or you can use straight up coconut oil.
Ask for Help. Be Direct.
Last but definitely not least, set your ego aside. Even the most independent woman needs help during this time. Many times I struggled to let go of my pride and ask my husband to give me a hand with something. The few times I did reach out I indirectly asked for help. Ladies, your husbands want to help, but they have no idea what to do, especially if it’s your first child. My husband says he felt helpless those first few months, and I felt like he didn’t do enough. However, I now realize, he wanted to help out more, but he didn’t know how. I didn’t make it easy on him either. I rarely asked for help, and when I did I was cryptic. Men do not understand subtleties. This is a lesson for life, not just surviving postpartum. When you want something from your husband ask directly. Learn from this exchange between my husband and I:
Me holding our three-day old daughter and trying to climb up on our bed: “The bed’s too high. I can’t get up while I’m holding the baby.” My husband: *laughs*
Now, every woman reading knows I asked him for help. I obviously wanted my husband to hold the baby so I could climb back into bed. My husband, however, thought I was simply making an observation. Men.
You Can and Will Survive Postpartum Recovery
As I mentioned before, postpartum (in my opinion) is the worst part of the pregnancy, birth, recovery trio. But remember it will not last forever. Even though it feels like it will. You got this!
Related Post: My Natural Non-Medicated Birth
You May Also Like: 10 Items Every Breastfeeding Working Mom Needs on Her Registry