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Pretty much 99.99% of women are nervous about labor and postpartum recovery. I’m going to be honest, I was so nervous about labor that I didn’t think about what it would be like postpartum. In hindsight, I wish I did because I was SO unprepared! In reality, it was a bloody mess (literally!)
Is it possible to prepare for postpartum recovery? Yes! To an extent. While every labor and every recovery is different, you can still do your best to be prepared for what is to come.
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How to prepare for postpartum recovery
Read up on labor and what to expect.
Let’s be honest. Reading up on labor isn’t the most pleasant experience. However, you can prepare well by doing so! By knowing what to expect you can figure out what is involved and how to recover best. By learning what muscles are stretched and used, signs to watch out for and what to do, you can aid along your recovery.
Understand that there WILL be bleeding. A lot of bleeding.
Rachel Green sums it all up pretty well. “You know that feeling when you’re trying to blow a St. Bernard out your ass!?” Well, with all of the stretching and the baby coming out, it is going to cause bleeding. It will be like a period or worse for the first few days. It will taper off but can last up to six weeks.
How to prepare:
Stock up on disposable briefs beforehand. They give them out at the hospital too, but you’ll need them for a while after labor. It does vary from woman to woman, but you will have heavy bleeding for at least the first few days. Eventually, you can taper off to wearing menstrual pads, and then liners.
Know what to look for in abnormal bleeding. Postnatal women are at risk for infection caused by pieces the placenta being left behind, or postpartum hemorrhage.
WebMD reports that while clotting is normal, call a doctor for clots bigger than a quarter. Do not use tampons during postpartum bleeding as that raises your risk of infection. It also says that you should seek medical attention if your bleeding is still BRIGHT red after the third day, if you bleed through a full pad in an hour and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down, or if you have flu-like symptoms or blurred vision. While it is only a 5% risk of hemorrhage, it can be serious if it isn’t looked at.
Prepare for vaginal pain
This chart perfectly illustrates why pain in your downstairs region is normal. (It also illustrates why moms deserve ALL of the push gift’s fellas!)
When you stretch so much within a few hours, and then your downstairs has to go back to normal, it is natural that it is going to hurt. That is even more the case if you need stitches. It is also going to be swollen.
How to prepare:
- Have a peri-bottle ready to use when you use the bathroom for the first three weeks. This helps prevent irritation on the stitches. You can also use warm (not hot) water and spray it on yourself while you pee to prevent the urine from stinging you.
- Stock up on cold packs beforehand too. They can be a lifesaver!
- Once the stitches start healing, they may get itchy. Throw Tuck’s wipes or Prep H wipes in the fridge to keep them cool. The witch hazel in them can help alleviate any itching.
- Arrange for some help when you first get home. Sometimes you don’t want others doing your laundry, but it really helps while you’re first healing. Put your feet up and enjoy time with your new baby.
I’ve said countless times that I did not anticipate the baby blues. But they happen, and they are so common. Unfortunately, so is the risk of postpartum depression.
How to prepare:
Make sure to have good communication with someone that you trust. If you don’t feel like you have a support system, do an online search for support groups in your area. Ask them to watch for changes in your mood or behavior if you are worried about PPD. Have someone that you can openly discuss your emotions and frustrations with. Know the symptoms of PPD and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Related: How to Beat the Baby Blues
Your body goes through such a big ordeal when giving birth. Once the baby is out, your uterus and rest of the body will go back to the normal size and heal.
How to prepare:
Parent.com has a great article on how exercises can help get your body ready. It is agreed upon by doctors that even though exercise might not necessarily help to induce labor (although some still claim it can!) but it can indeed help tone your body to prepare for postpartum recovery.
Labor and delivery are obviously difficult on the body. It takes a toll physically and mentally, but there are ways to be ready. What did you do to prepare or do you wish you prepared? Comment below!
Mom blogger, job coach, ESL teacher and mom to my little girl.