Congratulations! You birthed your new baby, but now what? Obviously, sleepless nights and many hours of feeding and diaper changing are in your future. But how do you care for your baby and your own body that experienced a MASSIVE shift physically and emotionally? There are many things that can help postpartum, and recommendations are plentiful, but it can get quite overwhelming. I think it’s best to just stick to the basics. To be honest, the basics are probably all you’ll have the energy for in the beginning anyways.
In my previous post, I focused more on exercises that can start soon after delivery, but this post is even simpler than that!
- Promote Deep Breathing:
In order to fully fill the lungs with air, deep and full expansion of the rib cage is needed.
Speak the word “HUT” forcefully while drawing the belly button to the spine to activate the deep abdominal muscles.
Whispering “Shhh” can help active the deep abdominal muscles.
Complete 5 deep breaths, followed by 5 “HUTS” every 30-60 minutes. This is a good routine to prevent any breathing complications immediately postpartum.
2. Prevent Blood Clots: This one is very important.
You’ll find you spend a lot more time sitting postpartum, but inactivity can increase the chance of blood clots.
Perform 5-10 minutes of ankle pumps, foot circles/ alphabets, sliding the heel in and out while laying down. Squeeze the buttocks 10 times every 30-60 minutes. These are easy exercises to complete while in bed or feeding/ nursing.
3. Promote Good Bowel Movements:
We want to avoid straining after vaginal or C-section delivery to decrease stress on pelvic floor and abdominal structures. Avoiding constipation and straining with bowel movements is key!
Consider using a stool to bring the knees higher than the hips during bowel movements.
Drink plenty of fluids! If breastfeeding, drink 2 cups after nursing (you’ll know what I mean once you start breastfeeding)
Support the perineum with a gloved hand or washcloth to prevent excessive bulging
Gentle abdominal massage can help to stimulate bowel activity.
4. Strengthen the Pelvic Floor Muscles:
Even those who have had a C-section are vulnerable to pelvic floor dysfunction.
30-80 repetitions of Kegels per day, holding 8-10 Seconds
If these cause pain, please see a physical therapist!
5. Promote Normal Urination:
Aim for going to the bathroom to urinate every 3-4 hours. As fluid from pregnancy decreases and hormone levels even out, it should get easier to go through the night without urination. Urge incontinence after 2 weeks should be checked out.
6. Minimize Diastasis Rectus Abdominis:
Work on initial activation of the deep abdominals by drawing the belly button towards the spine with various activities. Think of all the times you can practice while lifting your baby.
Check out this video for more instruction on activation of the transverse abdominis.
7. Make Breastfeeding Comfortable:
If you choose to breastfeed, you’re going to be in that position for a long time. Try to make yourself as comfortable as possible! Do your best to maintain good posture. Sit with the shoulders over the hips, ears in line with the shoulders. Think about bringing baby up to you, not you to baby.
These tips should get you headed towards a smooth recovery!