Woo-hoo! After what feels like an eternity the baby has finally arrived. Uh…now what do I do? You need tips for natural postpartum recovery.
Many new mothers don’t have a clue how to deal with a new born because no one mentors them (other than a male doctor or old-school nurse). Most prenatal classes deal only prepare you for the few short hours of labor and delivery.
My husband and I have just had our 6th child. All have been born at home and all delivered by my husband. That was not the original intention! We did hire a midwife for every pregnancy however the midwife never made it on time, although definite effort was made.
I’d like to share with you my recovery process and how I care for my new baby. Even more frustrating than the last month of your pregnancy is the first 3 months postpartum…or at least they can be.
My first day is spent eating and sleeping as well as the second and most of the third. I get up to use the restroom but on that first rarely venture too far from my bed. I have my husband help me in and out of bed. The pain is too much for me to be using my own stomach muscles.
On my first two babies I developed very large sores almost like canker sores. I was instructed that after using the restroom to wash with water from a water bottle and pat myself dry. Makes sense.
On the next four babies we moved to where we are now and our new midwife gave different instructions on hygienic care and natural postpartum recovery.
She had me use an actual peri bottle. I make all of my birth necessities purchases at inhishands.com. The peri bottle has a gentler flow than a water bottle. When you have basically a large open wound, the gentler the better.
I place about a teaspoon of povidone iodine in the peri bottle and fill with warm water. Wash yourself with this solution and pat dry. I have never developed sores again since using this method. I will continue with this regime until the swelling is down completely and my bleeding has slowed or stopped.
During pregnancy I wear a back-support belt to help hold up my uterus and keep the baby from falling forward. If your belly is too far forward not only does it cause a lot of back issues but makes it more difficult on your delivery and recovery. I continue to wear this belt even after the baby is born. If I find myself holding my stomach as I walk from the bed to the bathroom, then I need support. My midwife highly suggests support underwear that have the small diamond shape support in the front. Cut out the crotch and use like you would the belt. Not only does this help to support all of the external but the diamond shape support puts the right amount of pressure on your uterus until it’s back in place…a six week process. I will continue the use of my supports for a continuous six weeks but also for the next six months when doing anything that requires bending over.
Eat. Eat. Eat.
Now is NOT the time to be trying to lose weight, nor does that give me reason to junk out either. What sounds good to you? A grilled steak? A juicy roasted turkey? Watermelon? Eat it! It is essential to natural postpartum recovery.
Our family has eaten according to our blood type for 12 years now. My blood type is O. High protein, low carb. I do well on most any meat except pork. No breads or pastas for me. I find that when nursing I need some carbs at least once maybe twice a day. I lean toward rice perhaps because it’s cheap and easy. However, I prefer sweet potatoes and squash. Eat whenever you’re hungry.
Drink. Drink. Drink.
Liquids are absolutely essential for a good milk supply. I keep a large insulated cup handy, with a straw and electrolytes. Whenever there’s been any kind of fluid loss from your body then you will need electrolytes. There’s the typical Gatorade and Powerade that you can use. I use Alacer’s Electromix packets. They contain minerals that your body needs as well as a delicious lemon/lime flavor and no sugar. Each packet makes a liter. You may find them sold individually at your local health food store. We purchase them by the box from nutritiongeeks.com. I drink many cups per day of water. A 1/2 gallon of water per day should be minimum.
I remember the struggle that I went through with our first child. He was born at 4:30 am on a Wednesday. He slept all that day and that night. By the time he was 24 hours old, Thursday morning, he took to crying. He would cry until totally exhausted, sleep for a while and wake up crying again. This continued until Friday afternoon when my milk finally came in. I was completely at the end of my patience and in tears when my Mom called. I’m extremely blessed to have a mother who nursed all us girls against popular opinion. She says, “So, how are things going?”
In extreme frustration I said, “What do you do with a baby who refuses to nurse!”
I think I heard her smile a little.
She says, “Are you relaxed?”
Yeah right. Up all night and half the day with a screaming baby and I’m supposed to be relaxed?
She said, “So long as you’re uptight the baby can sense that. In order for him to relax and nurse you need to relax.”
I took a deep breath and forced myself to calm down. Immediately he latched on and was a great nurser.
In all six of our babies I’ve not had one yet who simply gravitated to nursing. I had to “teach” each of them to nurse.
You want to nurse as soon as you can. 15 – 30 minutes upon being born is ideal. Even if they only latch on for a couple of seconds or minutes. That simple stimulation causes your uterus to contract and start the process of going back down to normal size.
Their little heads will bob with interest and most likely they’ll cry because they can’t get it right. I’ve taken as much as 5 minutes or more of working with a baby to get him to nurse. That may not seem long but if feels almost an eternity when you’re holding a screaming baby who seemingly refuses to latch on.
This is definitely a patience builder. You have to constantly force yourself to relax. It’s very frustrating and discouraging. It’s going to go on like this for about 2 – 3 days before he truly gets it.
There are a couple of things you can try. Try putting the nipple at the roof of his mouth. Hold there for a few seconds. If he continues to bob, cry, and search, try putting the nipple on his tongue. Continue to repeat this process until he latches on.
I will usually wait at least 15 minutes before trying at all. If he doesn’t latch on within 5 minutes of trying, stop. Simply hold him for a minute. Talk to him softly. Calm your own nerves as well as his. When you’re ready try switching sides and make another attempt. If you’re a person who stresses and gives up easily you may want to take some B vitamins. This is where many new moms give up and want nothing to do with nursing. In our fast paced world of boxed foods and drivethrus we’re not use to having to slow down and make something work.
Then you must wait for your milk to come in. I’m shocked at the amount of people, some more than twice my age, who have no clue about this. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been asked, “Your milk come in? Well, what are they getting in the meantime?”
It’s highly nutritious and essential to the immune system. Unfortunately it’s not very filling therefore Baby will want to nurse constantly. Again, moms will give up here because their nipples get very tender and sore. If he is allowed to nurse unlimited then you may find yourself cracked and bleeding. It will feel like knives slicing you every time he goes to nurse. Then, on top of that you’re also dealing with the pain of your uterus contracting! After birth pains can be worse than labor. So between trying to get the baby to latch on, the feeling of knives slicing your nipples, extreme afterbirth pain suddenly grips you, it’s easy to see why a gal would want to throw out nursing and simply replace with a bottle.
As my husband has had to remind me so many times, take a deep breath—it’s only a season. Be thankful that at the moment you’re holding a live healthy baby. There are some who have not been so fortunate and yet still have to go through the physical pain of their body going back to normal.
Babies love that sucking action so it’s only natural that they would want to nurse constantly. I did not allow Levi that privilege this time around. I let him nurse one side for as long as I could tolerate, probably 10 minutes, before switching sides. After the second side if he still wanted to nurse I would give him a pacifier or my finger to suck on. They don’t need to nurse every waking (and half-sleeping) moment—they are just bored. Some babies when you unlatch them freak out and now they’re wide awake and you have to start the process all over again! If you know in advance that he’s going to do this have something to quickly put in his mouth.
I’ll have a few more tips for natural postpartum recovery, soon.