Let's talk about postpartum.
by Guadalupe from Illinois
Today I would like to talk to you about my postpartum experience.
I only have one daughter, my little princess Rani who just turned 6 years old in March. Even though it’s been quite a while since my postpartum period, I know we can gain some important highlights from having passed through this experience and looking at it now with calm and tranquility.
For those first-time mothers who are now passing through this period, I can tell you to enjoy it. I know there are moments when your hormones are turning upside down and moments of great sadness. But my first tip is, no matter what is happening around you, this little person in front of you needs you. You are everything for them, even though they are very small.
Let’s talk about eating. . .
We need to be aware that postpartum nutrition is very important. Whether or not we are breastfeeding, we need to eat enough foods rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. These are the source of our energy. If we eat too many high carbohydrate foods, there will be more sugar circulating in our system which tends to make us more tired and irritable.
The other thing to keep in mind in our eating is to drink enough water throughout the day. If we are breastfeeding, the idea is to drink enough water and not to wait until we are thirsty to drink it. Thirst is a sign that our bodies really need water, so the idea is to maintain a consistent intake.
Our bodies themselves look different after having had our babies. We are more swollen, we may even have a bit of a belly, but our bodies will start to adjust and return to their shape little by little.
We shouldn’t stress out and think we should eat less, or start a diet. Those moms who decide to breastfeed, that helps a lot in recovering their shape and for the uterus to contract again. This helps the belly start to reduce more quickly in some case
It’s important to understand that for our postpartum eating, we should ideally eat foods that nourish us and give us energy. It’s not a good idea to skip meals, because we need to have energy and nutrients to recover. This means we should include dairy foods, protein foods (red meat, poultry, fish), a balanced amount of carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Along with this, it’s important to give ourselves time to eat in a calm manner. While the baby is sleeping, or awake but calm, take advantage of the opportunity to eat. Eating under stress will not make you feel very good.
If you have help in the house, ask them to watch your child or children so you can eat. Remember that it’s best to have at least 4 meals during the day (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner). This helps to maintain a regular metabolism and keeps your metabolism from slowing down, which could lead to accumulating more fat.
What about physical activity?
Regarding movement, I could say that it depends. For those who had a normal birth, it’s likely that you will begin to move around in the hours after delivery. For those of us who had a C-section, we can’t start moving around right away.
In the first few days there is a little pain and we need to rest to recuperate our energy and help the internal healing process.
When you are feeling better from whatever your birth experience was, it’s good to take walks for 15 to 30 minutes. This will help manage stress and help you take your mind off worries. Because for the first months, many times the routine can be overwhelming, it’s necessary to take this time to go outside. If you don’t have anyone who can help take care of your baby, take the baby with you. I used to go out in the car with my daughter, but after that it was more practical to take her with me in my sling. This helps with bonding between mother and child.
Also, if before you did other activities like going to the gym, yoga or pilates, or doing zumba at home, these are activities that you can start again when you are ready. But the important thing is to not sit still!
I know there will be moments of fatigue, and it’s good to take advantage of sleeping while your baby is asleep. There may be some or many nights when you don’t get much sleep. But try as much as possible to take short power naps (15 to 20 minutes) which help to energize you again.
And about mental health. . .
For mental health, give yourself time to take a shower. This relieves, renews and restores your energy. You may be a first-time mom and don’t have anyone else at home during the day, like happened to me. You can put your baby in their baby seat with their belt and take a shower, watching constantly to make sure your baby is OK. Showering is an activity that can seem simple but will relieve the tensions of the day.
You may feel sad, melancholy, with less energy or spirit. Remember that if you feel this way for a long time, you need to tell the health care provider at your baby’s pediatric appointment. This way you can get help when you need it. Postpartum depression exists and can be treated. In my experience as a nurse, when I took care of moms with these issues, we referred them to the doctor and the psychologist so they could get help. There is no need to be strong in the face of this, it happens and is more frequent than you think. Many changes are happening at the same time: hormone changes, adaptation, lack of sleep, more work, fatigue, etc.
You are starting a beautiful process. Enjoy, take photos, smile, record moments which will be unique in the life of your child. A big hug, and have a beautiful start to this new period in your life.
About Guadalupe. . .
My name is Guadalupe. I'm a stay at home mom. My daughter is 6 years old right now, she is going to kindergarten. I love to spend time reading, and helping others. My profession is Registered Nurse, but right now I’m just at home.
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Want more information about the postpartum period? We have a free online category called Pregnancy and Baby's First 6 Months filled with many resources on the topic. Check out all of the lessons at wichealth.org!