Pregnancy and birth are normal events in a woman’s life but these days it seems once the baby is born, we’re under the pump to get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Whether this is because of social expectations (thanks, celebrities) or because you’re riding the post-birth high of hormones and relief, it’s important to know rushing back to ‘normal’ isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Your body has performed a pretty hard task for nine months and it’s not going to bounce back straight away. Having a new baby is an exciting time but it can also be an exhausting one too.
In the first days after birth, your body is in full recovery mode. Depending on how labour and birth unfolded for you, you may have lost blood and fluids. Your energy levels are likely to be quite low, especially if you haven’t slept well in the weeks before birth.
However your baby was born, at some point, you’re going to feel pretty sore and bruised and possibly like your bits are going to just fall right out – thanks to your pelvic floor muscles doing some amazing stretching work during pregnancy.
Being off your feet as much as possible in the first few days will take the pressure off your pelvic floor and allow your internal organs to settle back into place. It also gives your perineum a chance to heal if you gave birth vaginally. If you are dealing with stitches or an incision wound from a c-section, rest can help promote healing.
While it might seem like a good idea to get out of the house and back to normal, it’s important to remember the recovery process can’t be put off until ‘later’. The first month after birth is critical for promoting recovery.
Short-term problems such as infection, constipation or pain can be avoided, and possibly prevent long-term problems such as organ prolapse, urine incontinence, anaemia or depression. These complications can have profound effects on your daily life as well as any future pregnancies.
Many women choose to consume their placenta in some form to enhance their recovery period. The custom of consuming the placenta is centuries old, practiced most often in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Cultures that traditionally consume the placenta believe it is rich with nutrients, which assists mothers to recover from birth and provides them with energy. This promotes a smooth transition through the ‘baby blues’ and reduces post-birth bleeding.
Recovery after childbirth isn’t optional – all women have to go through the process of allowing their body to return to a non-pregnant state. You can support your body by eating a well-balanced diet, getting as much rest and sleep as possible, and drinking plenty of fluids. Allowing yourself the time to recover after birth honours the work your body has done during pregnancy and birth, and allows you to make the transition to motherhood with confidence.
Writer, CBE & Doula