Just over a month ago a very close friend of mine had her first Baby. She has bravely chosen to make this journey alone and I am so very proud of her. Since I have managed to keep my child alive for a number of years I was nominated to stay with her for a week after the birth.
I was there to help out and to provide the support a new mum needs. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay there longer because I had to get back to work.
Before I left my friend confessed that she was worried how she was going manage. She was concerned that she was going to get so tired and run down that she wouldn’t be able to care for her baby.
So the night before I left we sat down and wrote a self care plan for her. A plan that was both practical and realistic. We were aware that there wasn’t going to be any long pamper sessions in her near future.
I went back home and back to work and checked in on my friend on a regular basis. She followed the self care plan as much as she possibly could and starting feeling the benefits right away.
It has gone so well that I wanted to share the self care plan with you.
Get As Much Rest As You Can
There’s not really a lot to say about this one. Sleep when baby sleeps. Every time baby sleeps if you can. I wouldn’t worry too much about what time your naps are as long as you and baby get the rest you both need.
When awake still try to rest as much as possible. While feeding your baby keep your legs elevated in order to avoid water retention.
I can fully understand the desire to lose that baby weight as fast as possible but it is important for both you and baby that you have a healthy balanced diet and that you do not skip meals.
Try to include plenty of dairy products, lean meat, and fish in your diet.
Also consider adding some of these.
- Salmon, sardines and mackerel for omega 3
- Spinach, oranges and nuts for folic acid.
- Whole grain breakfast cereals for B vitamins.
- Yogurts, peanut butter, fruit, cereal bars. To give you an energy boost.
It is also important that you stay well hydrated. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and drink at least 2 litres per day.
Get Some Fresh Air Once A Day
Start off slowly, 10 minutes in the garden will do you the world of good. Once you feel stronger try short walks with baby.
When your doctor says it okay try exercising a small amount every day. Don’t overdo it, try a short walk, light stretches or simple yoga poses. This will help give you the energy you need for baby.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Try to wear comfortable loose fitting clothing. Although your maternity clothes may be a thing of the past, you are not likely to be able to fit into to your pre pregnancy clothing straightaway.
In the first 6 weeks or so after the birth parts of you are going to be extremely sore. Tight fitting clothing will cause an irritation and most definitely run on your sore bits. Try some loose floaty dresses or baggy t shirts to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.
Join A Mums Group
Join your local group for new mums. This will give you the chance to talk to people who are going through the same as you. It’s always good to know that you aren’t the only one who’s tired and overwhelmed.
You will get a chance to swap stories and tips and you will find the support and encouragement you need.
Socialising is always good for the soul.
If you are breastfeeding your breasts will become swollen so wear a bra that gives you good support at all times.
You breasts will get very sore at times so try having a warm shower or applying a warm facecloth to your breasts. You can also take mild painkillers for the discomfort if you wish.
To prevent your nipples getting sore make sure the baby is latching on correctly and try letting milk dry on your nipples as this can protect the skin. Do not use soap or scented cleansers on your breasts.
If you are bottle feeding your breasts still may become swollen.
Wear a tight fitting bra at all times and avoid stimulation of the nipples or handling the breasts.
You can apply a cold compress to help with the initial discomfort. But do not pump or hand express milk as this will produce more milk and cause further swelling.
Do Your Kegels
Kegel exercises strengthen those oh so important Pelvic Floor Muscles that may have gone a bit wobbly after birth.
The Pelvic Floor muscles support the uterus and bladder so it’s vitally important to do these exercises as often as you can.
Luckily kegels can be done pretty much anywhere at any time and don’t take an awful lot of effort.
Here’s a quick guide.
- To find your pelvic floor, stop urinating mid stream. If you can do this you are using the right muscles. Once you have found the muscles do not do the exercises while urinating.
- Tighten the muscles and hold for 5 seconds then relax for 5 second. Do this 5 times in a row.
- Work your way up to 10 seconds at a time.
- Breathe freely during the exercise, avoid holding your breath.
- Do this 3 times per day.
Soak In The Bath Every Day
If you gave birth vaginally then there will be a whole lot of awful going on down there.
Doctors usually recommend a sitz bath after giving birth. If you are unable to get into the tub then a basin that fits on the toilet seat works brilliantly as it is just your pelvis that needs to soak.
Ensure that the water is not too hot. You can buy herbal preparations to put in the water if you wish. You can check out my friends favourites here and here.
Make sure the the perineum, the area between your vulva and anus is completely submerged ( this is the bit that feels like it has been ripped apart).
You will find that your perineum will sting when you are passing urine. Try pouring warm water over as you pee to ease the pain.
Keep In Regular Contact With Friends And Family.
Although it’s best to keep visitors to a minimum while you adjust to motherhood, don’t lose contact with the outside world completely.
At least once a day pick up the phone and call a friend or family member. Tell them about your day, have a good rant if you need to. Or listen to their troubles and forget about yours.
A good chat will put a smile on your face and leave you feeling refreshed.
Write A Journal
Starting a journal after the birth is a great way to have some me time every day.
It will help you gather your thoughts during this stressful time. Writing down your worries gives you clarity and really does help put things into perspective.
Keeping a written record of those early days is a great way to preserve these wonderful memories and will give you something to look back on in the years to come.
I pleased to report that 4 weeks after giving birth my friend is currently rocking motherhood and feels really well. The baby is thriving and she couldn’t be happier.
Have you tried any of these self care tips? What other methods have you used to take care of yourself after giving birth?
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