When people think about childbirth, two main things come to mind. The most obvious is the pain and recovery process, and the second is your new life as a parent.
For new parents especially, this transition requires time for both the mind and body to adjust.
As we focus on postpartum recovery, here are some of the things you need to know and understand about it.
i. Your pregnancy hormones are still active
During your pregnancy, some of the pregnancy hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone were being produced in plenty. Immediately after giving birth, these hormones are still in the system so you might experience ‘baby blues’ i.e. you might feel sad at a time when you are expected to be excited. Your body is still trying to stabilize the hormones so this can go on for a few days. However, this isn’t to be confused with postpartum depression and if it persists for more than a few days, consult your doctor.
ii. You might be constipated
You might find yourself feeling constipated after childbirth. Bowel movements can be restricted for many reasons including medication and fear or anxiety. Some medicines can inhibit normal bowel movement and in other cases, the fear of interfering with the stitches and the pain is enough to make anyone dread visiting the bathroom. In both situations, your doctor can recommend common stool softeners to avoid other complications.
iii. There is postpartum bleeding
The process is known as ‘lochia’ whereby the body starts to expel leftover placental and uterine tissues and blood immediately after having your baby. This process usually lasts for a few days after birth. During this period, observe good hygiene and be on the lookout for extremely heavy flows or clots. If you notice these irregularities, visit your doctor immediately.
iv. Adjusting to your new life takes time
Adjusting is always a new experience for new parents or even for those who are having another baby. For nine months, your identity has been a mother to-be so when the baby arrives, your identity now shifts to real parenthood. This new life comes with so many responsibilities so it’s normal to find it hard to adjust and you may struggle in the process. In order to bounce back, it’s best for moms and dads-to-be to prepare mentally before the due date so that when the time comes, you are more confident with your new identity.
v. Recovery time is different for everybody
The time it takes to recover from childbirth varies from mother to mother. Some people recover in a matter of weeks, while others need more time. Factors such as the method of delivery or the development of delivery complications determine how long it will take. Other factors such as healthy diet and lifestyle can accelerate recovery time in women. The standard time for recovery, however, is around one and a-half months to two months.
But should it take longer, don’t rush your body.
vi. Worry is part of the process
Another aspect of postpartum recovery is the worry phase. During this time, you might experience some postpartum anxiety. Some of the fears can be of your child’s general safety or your ability to look after them. It’s normal to feel the pressure of living up to your own expectations but with time, you loosen up and realize that everything is just fine.
If these fears become deep-rooted and unmanageable, it’s time to reach out to a therapist and get some counselling.