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Recovering From Childbirth: What You Can Expect

Chief Editor | Published on February 22, 2023

All that planning and preparation for your baby’s arrival can feel draining, but it is the actual process of labour and delivery that can weigh you down for an extended period of time. Be it a vaginal delivery or a caesarean section, your body undergoes a great deal of stress, resulting in a prolonged period of discomfort, pain and fatigue you need to deal with. Here’s the rundown of the issues you’ll likely face in the 6 weeks post-partum and, most importantly, what you can do to make things better.

Exhaustion

For new mums, being able to clock 3 hours of unbroken sleep is considered a blessing. Besides having to tend to your infant’s constant demands, your body is in the process of recovery from childbirth, which makes mums even more exhausted. Without enough rest, exhaustion can impede post-partum recovery and may bring on the “baby blues”.

What to do: Make sure you feed yourself a balanced diet of wholesome foods and try your best to time your sleep when the baby sleeps. You may also enlist help (from a nanny or family members such as your parents) or share the load with your partner. If you’re doing all of these and still feel fatigued, check with your doctor to rule out a physical cause such as post-partum thyroiditis.

Incontinence

One of the most annoying, yet completely normal, after-effects of childbirth is urinary and/or faecal incontinence. The process of pregnancy, labour and delivery weaken the muscles around your bladder and pelvis, making it harder for you to control your urine flow. Your uterus position in the weeks after delivery and hormonal changes play a part too. Slack pelvic muscles and affected nerves might also contribute to involuntary faecal release or, at times, constipation.

What to do: Incontinence usually improves with time, and you can speed things up by doing Kegel exercises and losing extra kilos. You can also turn to your doctor for advice and treatment options. Just don’t cut down on your fluid intake, which can cause dehydration and leave you prone to urinary tract infections.

Hair Loss

Don’t panic if you start shedding hair like an alley cat, you’re just making up for lost time. During pregnancy, you shed far less hair due to hormonal changes, but your body will make up for it after you’ve given birth. This “hair loss” phase usually lasts for 6 months, and may only start once your baby has stopped breastfeeding.

Paradoxically but not surprisingly, hair may actually start emerging again in places where it stopped growing during pregnancy, such as on your legs, as your body gradually returns to its normal state.

What to do: Other than letting nature take its course, you can continue taking your prescribed supplements, eating well and caring for your tresses. For example, use a wide-toothed comb when straightening your mane. If you feel that your hair loss is getting excessive, consult your doctor.

Backache

If you expect your back troubles to ease after childbirth, you could be wrong. Nearly half of all mums have to endure post-partum backache, which may be caused by hormonally-loosened back ligaments that have not yet tightened up, coupled with stretched-out and weakened abdominal muscles. Having to carry baby around also puts further strain on your sore back.

What to do: Besides exercises that specifically strengthen the back, you’ll also need to identify and correct any bad posture and habits, such as slouching. Alternate the arm you use to carry your baby and consider wearing junior in a sling or wrap. If you’re standing for prolonged periods, consider putting one foot on an stable elevated platform, such as a stool, to ease the pressure on your back.

Once you begin to shake off these issues, it probably means that you’re nearing a full recovery from the effects of childbirth. You’ll feel much better and may even feel game enough to resume sex on a more frequent basis!

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