Giving birth is a monumental undertaking for the human body and the healing that follows should be respected. However, after my own experience I feel that there is so much emphasis put on physical healing and not nearly enough dedication is funnelled towards mental or emotional healing which is just as important if not more so.
Every woman is different, every birth is different and every physical healing process is different. I gave birth naturally and had a second degree internal tear. My physical healing involved a strict hygiene regime that included washing my stitches three to four times per day in warm water with lavender oil. I had to change my pad regularly and used My expert midwife’s Spritz for Bits to spray on the pads to soothe my bits.
After pushing a watermelon sized human out of me, they recommend you do pelvic floor exercises…in my personal experience I couldn’t feel my pelvic floor for a good number of days but it is so so so important that you go through the motion until you can feel it re-engaging to make sure you aid your muscle snap back and stop yourself from peeing yourself!
Take it easy. You may feel like you’re a super human who can do the laundry and power on like a hero but you will hurt yourself – I got home did the laundry, changed the bedding and did some cleaning and my body smacked me round the face for it. You can tell if you’re overdoing it if your blood loss increases. You have an open wound in your uterus where the placenta was attached, give yourself a chance!
Take the time to put on your stretch mark cream and your nipple cream. Honour your body. She’s gone through a lot and needs some TLC.
Week three postpartum my cocyx was in agony. I used anti inflammatory gel and took paracetamol and soaked in a warm tub when I could.
Hormones play a huge part in your life post birth. They will make you feel depleted and anxious, they will make you question whether you can cope, they will play with your emotions and make you feel like you’re spiralling. It’s very common for women to go through a brief period of baby blues but if you feel low or are struggling every day for more than two weeks you may be battling postnatal depression – there is no shame in this and it can be treated so please please seek help.
I had a few weeks of feeling not quite myself and it was a very challenging time for me because I didn’t fit into the baby blues box and my feelings weren’t constant or severe enough to be postnatal depression. What helped me get through what I now like to call the foggy stage was when I read up about the fourth trimester and all of a sudden what I was feeling was manageable because I had a better understanding of what was happening. It’s a process and it takes time to adjust.
In terms of looking after myself emotionally I made sure to get dressed every day as this set me up mentally. I also made sure to leave the house every other day and go for walks.
I didn’t get much time to read but I had a book that I spent time with when I got the opportunity to do so. I planned for the future with date nights and reservations and made a concerted effort to think of life outside of the walls of our house.
The brain is a powerful tool and if it is left to its own devices it can be quite detrimental to your journey to recovery. I fell victim to this during the first weeks when my brain propelled my anxiety into making me worry that I was spiralling when I wasn’t.
Mental recovery can be hard if you are physically exhausted, still in pain and your emotional health isn’t in check. But if you work on one thing at a time, your mental strength will return. I was lucky in that my job is home based so I could do as much work as I could which kept my mind sharp – I admit I did this too quickly and wanted to prove I could but after my body had recovered and my emotional health was stable being able to work was a great relief.
Working on our home budget, planning the weekly meals and the grocery list, planning my husband’s birthday, making appointments for baby etc all kept my mind active and useful.
I found that once my body’s healing was on track, my emotional health was a priority. This took time for me to grasp a healthy way to keep my emotions stable but when my hormones levelled then my mental healing kicked in.
My top tips would be;
1. Take your time
2. Be honest with how you are feeling
3. Ask for help
4. Know that you are not alone and every mom has those moments. There is an army behind you!
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