Congratulations on your new arrival! You’ve got a little one to take care of now, and it’s important to balance your time with caring for your body post-birth, too.
Taking care of your health postpartum might feel slightly different from what you’re used to from before your pregnancy. You need some time before you can get back to more intense exercise, and you may be managing new forms of discomfort. Don’t worry – these things are manageable. Remember to take it easy; physical recovery takes time, so don’t push yourself too far too early.
Your body needs as much rest as you can get. Sleep can help restore your body and energy, but even if you don’t have time to fall asleep, it’s important to rest your body. Allow 1-2 hours a day to be flat – this position can help take some of the gravity and pressure off your pelvic floor and abdominal wall, which both have some healing to do now.
Try to sleep when your baby sleeps to get back some downtime. Once your little one is awake, you will be too, so it can help to share nap times. Remember: never share a bed or bed coverings with your baby.
Strengthening your pelvic floor is something you can do while just sitting around! Chat to your doctor or physio about kegel exercises and pelvic exercises.
You may experience some light bladder leakage when you laugh, cough, or sneeze. This is normal. You can wear liners if it makes you more comfortable. If this is still a common occurrence three months after giving birth, let your doctor know.
Help take the pressure off your pelvic floor by doing what you can for regular bowel movements. Ensure your diet consists of plenty of fiber, fruits, and veggies. Avoid straining when trying to pass a stool. Sit back, take your time and try again later if you need to. If you struggle with constipation for more than two days, consult your doctor.
Beyond pelvic floor exercises, you can slowly build up to more physical activity over time. Some good gentle postnatal exercises include:
- Low-impact aerobics
- Lightweight training
Always consult a professional before trying these exercises during your postnatal recovery. If you have an instructor, it is a good idea to let them know you have recently been pregnant so they can help you adjust exercises if need be.
Due to lingering hormones and your tissue and muscles recovering from pregnancy, your ligaments and joints are more prone to injury for up to six months after giving birth. Take your time and find a pace that works for you without feeling pressure to bounce back quickly!
Always keep an ice pack in the freezer. Ice can help reduce tissue swelling. Hold a wrapped-up ice pack on your perineum to help reduce pain and swelling, or on any other sore muscles.
Time for yourself
While your little one is now your priority, your self-care should still be a regular habit. Allow yourself the time to eat well, rest when you can, and eat a balanced diet. Your body has just achieved something remarkable. You might not look or feel “back to normal” straight away, but there is no real “normal” way for your body to be. Aim to be healthy and seek support where you need a bit of advice.