Recovering from childbirth – Mind Body & Spirit
“Motherhood is a challenge, yet the rewards are incredible”
Women are emotional creatures. Did you realise for example that a woman’s normal 28 day cycle, is aligned with the moon cycles also known as the lunar cycle. The word lunatic derived from the belief that emotional changes occur within the lunar cycle. Us women can be portrayed as crazy creatures at the best of times so add to that the uncertainty that motherhood brings and you will realise it is best to be prepared and here is how.
You spend nine months focusing on the birth of your baby. There is so much knowledge to absorb and digest, the main emphasis being on childbirth. In the bigger scheme of things, childbirth is just a brief moment on the journey in to motherhood, there is a tendency to focus on the newborn baby, friends and family alike; whilst your needs may appear to be neglected once baby arrives.
Adapting to your new role may take a while, and women can feel out of their depth, anxious and worried, not to mention concerns over their own identity. Furthermore there are so many different hormone changes that a women may feel unsettled for the first few weeks of motherhood. Call the midwives can undertake a ONE 2 ONE CLASS to help with the transition feel free to CONTACT US for more information.
Pregnancy and childbirth create enormous changes which encompass the mind, body and spirit. Here we discuss the essential ingredients for a speedy recovery.
The Body changes dramatically and hormone levels rise and fall. Your uterus has to contract back to its former size, your breasts need to produce milk, and your baby will make demands on you that effect your normal sleeping and eating patterns. Breast changes are normal, in the first few days the body starts to produce milk. You will be bleeding post delivery and this can be heavy for the first few days. Your appetite may change and many women feel a sense of euphoria that can last a few days. If you had stitches you may feel uncomfortable, changing pads on a regular basis, avoiding tight clothing and putting 5 drops of LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL in the bath with one teaspoon of milk will help with the healing process.
It is important to maintain a good diet and if you are unable to do this, take a vitamin supplement for the first month after the birth. Vitamin C is very important and so are minerals like ZINC and MAGNESIUM see links for more information on the benefits of these.
Many women are concerned about regaining their pre-pregnacy figure, you will be given advice on exercise by your midwife. Especially relating to your perineum and your abdomen. The perineum will recover if you ensure good hygiene, exercise and fresh air. Don’t worry ladies it does all go back to normal I assure you. The midwife will check the area for you and offer you advice and support.
I think it is important not to get to uptight about regaining your figure too early, especially if you are recovering from a caesarean section. Breastfeeding women need extra calories and it is true that by breastfeeding you use more energy and your uterus contracts more effectively. So tip of the day think about breastfeeding, more on that subject at a later date. Try to avoid sugars and eat a balanced diet. Good diet will help with your recovery in more ways than one, nutrition is also essential for your emotional well-being. Kelly Brogan offers some great evidence based advice so check her website out prior to birth.
Which leads me nicely onto your emotional well-being in the postnatal period. Motherhood can be overwhelming for many women, it is well recognised by health organisations that childbirth can cause unsettled emotions, that if not treated can cause long-term negative effects for both mother and her children. The Royal College of Midwives and national organisations ensure that midwives and other healthcare professionals explore women’s emotions during pregnancy and once baby is born within the first few days and weeks of pregnancy. In 2013 a survey identified that 60% of all new mothers felt down or depressed after giving birth (RCM 2014).
Due to hormonal changes related to giving birth and breastfeeding, not to mention sleep deprivation related to infant feeding and adaptation to the role of motherhood many women will experience what is known as the ‘baby blues’ around the fourth day postnatal. Now ladies this is normal when midwives visit women at home on day five, many will report crying within the last 48 hours. The baby blues settles quickly if the woman is well supported and if she is able to discuss her feelings. However for some support may not be available or there may be pre-existing emotional problems, in the UK we are working towards a robust system of support for those of you who feel vulnerable and I would urge you to speak to your midwife, GP, or health visitor.
What can you do to help yourself at this time. As explained previously, a good balanced diet is essential. Organise a support network of family and friends who can be called upon to help cook meals and help with baby to enable you to recover. Set boundaries, ensure that you are able to have naps during the day. Babies do not sleep all night they can’t there is a physiological reason why, so day time power naps are essential. If you are breastfeeding learn how to express your milk and build up a store; explore cup feeding for those moments when you need rest. Allow your partner to help with feeding whilst you have a relaxing bath or sleep.
If you have had a normal delivery, then by day ten you may feel up to going for a walk, the first time you do this go with somebody, exercise does help release endorphin’s and you will stat to feel a lot more like your normal self. There is so much help available now that no woman should have to suffer in silence. If you feel emotional then discuss this with somebody. Help is available, speaking about your feelings can be very healing in itself so please make sure you do this.
If you care for you body and you mind your spirit will recover well. Ensure you are able to have ‘me’ time. Also get used to family days out. There are many challenges to being a new parent, but on the plus side, there is something amazing about getting to know your new arrival. Bonding is essential for both of you. You will feel empowered and baby will thrive, a happy mum produces happy children.
There are no hard or fast rules to parenting, motherhood is the most challenging yet rewarding time in your life.
Looking after your mind, body and spirit will inspire you to enjoy your role as mother, you will soon realise that time goes by so quickly and before you know it you will be running around after a toddler and laughing at the beauty of it all.
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Royal College of Midwives ‘Maternal Mental Health’ (2014) online https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/Pressure%20Points%20-%20Mental%20Health%20-%20Final_0.pdf