The 产后 修复 period is a time of adjustment for the entire family. Learn how to care for your body and mind during this exciting but challenging time.
Many women experience symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction after childbirth. Kegel exercises and physical therapy can help improve urinary incontinence and retrain and strengthen the pelvic muscles affected by diastasis recti.
Ice Your Perineum
Many new moms focus on getting all the baby supplies they need, from diapers to bottles, but they should also stock up on a few items to care for their own pelvic area postpartum. Ice packs and sitz baths can help reduce pain from a vaginal tear or episiotomy. You can purchase special sitz bath soaks with cooling herbs like calendula or witch hazel, or you can simply fill your bathtub with warm water and take 20-minute soaks a few times per day. A peri rinse bottle will help prevent urine from irritating torn skin, and you can use it to spray the area after you go to the bathroom.
Some women experience cramps in their lower abdomen after birth due to the contractions that occur as the uterus shrinks back into its pre-pregnancy size. Sitting in a sitz bath or holding a washcloth or towel soaked in warm water helps soothe these cramps and may relieve pain as well. Sitz baths are also useful for soothing hemorrhoids that often develop during and after pregnancy.
Take a Warm Sitz Bath
You can give yourself a simple, at-home Sitz bath to help clean and soothe your perineal area. This is the area between your anus and vulva (in women) or your scrotum (in men). It’s likely to be sore and swollen after childbirth, whether you had a vaginal birth or C-section. A warm, shallow soak in a tub or reusable or disposable plastic sitz bath can relieve pain and itching.
You might add Epsom salt, baking soda or other ingredients to the tub or sitz bath. However, you should avoid adding soap or other products that can dry out skin that’s already irritated. A few times a day, sit in the tub or basin with about four to five inches of warm water up to your hips.
A sitz bath can be soothing for conditions like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal surgery or an episiotomy. It can also help you heal from a Bartholin’s cyst, an inflamed condition that affects the glands in your vaginal canal. The sitz bath promotes healing by draining or breaking up the cyst, according to a 2015 study.
Care for Your C-Section Scar
Your C-section scar may itch, but it’s important to resist the temptation to scratch. Itching can disturb the healing process and can lead to infection. Moreover, itching can cause a skin tag to form.
Once the scab has fallen off of your c-section scar, coat your fingers with vitamin E or coconut oil and gently massage the area, says Barnes. This will help keep the tissue loose and encourage blood flow to the area, which can improve the appearance of your scar.
Many women lose sensation in the abdominal area after a C-section, and that’s usually normal. However, if the numbness persists for several weeks or you feel shooting pains, talk to your doctor about nerve damage.
Some women develop thick, raised scars at their incision site, called hypertrophic scars. While these are harmless, they can irritate the skin and some women don’t like their appearance. Talk to your doctor about physical therapy after you have healed, which can help minimize scars. Other things that can help scars heal well include eating a healthy diet and avoiding smoking.
Eat Healthy Meals
During this time, you can try to eat regular meals that provide a balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. This will help ease any abdominal muscles that were tightened during labor, and it will keep you feeling satiated between breastfeeding feeds.
Try a bowl of warm, comforting bone broth, which is loaded with collagen and other nutrients that can aid in the healing of the wound where your placenta was removed, rebuild tissue in your uterus and pelvic floor, and revitalize any stretch marks you may have. You can also try eating whole eggs, which are a good source of protein and are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
Leafy greens are another important postpartum food, as they are a rich source of iron. Try adding them to a smoothie or salad. You should also drink plenty of fluids, such as water and sugar-free juices and tea. Try to aim for about eight large glasses of fluid a day, unless your doctor recommends otherwise.
Getting back into shape after giving birth provides many short-term benefits, including promoting a healthy weight loss, strengthening muscles, and building endurance. It also sets you up for a more active lifestyle in the long run.
Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, you’re generally safe to resume regular exercise as soon as your doctor gives you the okay. However, you should slowly ease into your workouts to avoid pain or injury.
Pregnancy and childbirth weaken abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. If you try to re-engage those muscles too quickly, you’re at risk of a pelvic floor injury such as an abdominal muscle spasm or heaviness.
A heaviness in the pelvic area or a numbness in your perineum is not normal, so it’s important to check in with your body before exercising. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop the activity right away.