Yes that is right mum. 7 ways to take care of YOURSELF after birth. This may sound contradicting to new mums. You are experiencing the most life changing transition, and have a dependent baby to take care of. What else can you do but focusing totally on this miracle?
In my experience women in this fragile period of life can be left with some health concerns that re easily avoided if you pay attention to yourself as well. And being a mother becomes easier if you regain your strength and recover well after birth and pregnancy, so keep reading.
1: Mum needs to recover postpartum
Basic needs first: Rest and eat well. Take every occasion to catch up on your sleep. Maybe you need to learn how to accept help to be able to get the rest you need. Nurture yourself. Fuel yourself for healing, recovering, gaining energy and coping with your new life. You need energy from carbs, fat and protein. You need healthy oils. You need vitamins and minerals. You need fluids.
And you are so busy doing everything else you might forget about your basic needs. Focus on having them covered.
2: A new mum is born when the baby is born
Take postpartum for what it is. A total mess. Embrace the chaos, and settle with it. You can easily feel like a failure if you set expectations to high. Slowly you and your family will develop your routines and fall into a new structure of everyday life. And this experience too is so useful. Because learning to cope with these unpredictable changes will prepare you for the future as a mum.
3: Mum and baby bonding
Cuddle. Skin-to-skin. We are told to bond with our baby, and that the production of oxytocin helps the process. But bonding may take time. Love can take time to develop, and getting to know your child and its needs will be a never-ending development throughout your lives. Do not beat up yourself if you do not feel overwhelmed with love at first sight. Give yourself some time to let the love grow and change as the baby does.
4: Exercise and getting your body into shape
Many women ask the question when can I return to exercise postpartum? Well, it depends on how you want your body to work for the rest of your life. My advice is:
Check your pelvic floor and regain core strength. And be smart about it!
Let me explain some basic points here. During pregnancy and childbirth your body changes. Your core muscles and pelvic floor will be affected by these changes, and will need to heal. First of all, your body does an amazing job of this itself, if you follow the first two advices I gave you. Rest and nurture. But eventually you will feel like doing some exercises, and this is where you need to be smart. Ask your doctor on your postpartum check up to test your pelvic floor strength and if you are performing the contraction correctly. Check your diastasis if it is healed, and do exercises that help you regain function of your core and pelvic floor before you start activities like heavy weight lifting, jumping and running. If you experience leakage in any activity or daily life, seek help. Women need not live with these complaints, in most cases correct exercises can fix the problems.
5: Be clear
Stand up for yourself and your needs. It will be difficult for your partner, nurses at the hospital and friends to understand what your needs are at every moment. TELL them what you need. Ask questions if there are things you don´t understand.
Position yourself well for breast and bottle feeding. To prevent pains and aches from your shoulder, arms and upper back a good working position is important. If you manage to position yourself so that you can rest while feeding, you will get less strain on your body. Incorporate some stretches and strengthening exercises for this area too.
7: When you feel like a failing mum
Know that you are good enough. Many women set out to be a perfect mum. But on the way we are bound to meet challenges. You are more than good enough. We all feel like a failure sometimes. I have a friend that told me she kept a big pillow in the laundry room, so that she could go in there and scream into it whenever she was frustrated. Let it out and move on. The love between a mum and a baby is unconditional.
SO there you go. Eat, recover, sleep, cuddle, accept help, ask for help and think about how you use your body in breastfeeding and when you start exercising. And embrace your new life with all its elements. Congratulations!