• Lifestyle

How to Make Your Postpartum Recovery Easier

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  • Lifestyle
The baby’s here! Are you surprised to be feeling strange and unsure about how you’re feeling? Your body can surprise you in all sorts of ways post-childbirth, but you’ll feel a whole lot better and heal faster with these insta-helpers. 

Where’s the poo? 

The situation: It can take two to three days before you have your first bowel movement after delivery. Various things can be causing this delay, including weakened ab muscles, traumatized bowels, or the pain medication you’re taking. 

What to do: Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Eat plenty of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Take a walk. Just don’t overdo it and avoid strenuous activities, especially if you’ve had a Cesarean section. Tell your doctor if you haven’t moved your bowels for seven days in case you need a laxative to help things along.

Good to know: Your stitches won’t tear! They might hurt but it’s almost impossible that they will tear. Relax and don’t resist the urge to go out of this fear.

Bloody mess

The situation: Your “period” after childbirth might be heavier than you expected. It could be heavier than your usual flow so it might feel shocking. This is lochia—vaginal discharge made of leftover blood, mucus, and tissue from your uterus—which is part of your post-pregnancy process. It will take a few days for it to lessen.

What to do: Ride it out. Don’t use a tampon because it will put you at risk for infection. Use heavy duty sanitary pads (those overnights work well) and change them every couple of hours. Use cheap underwear that you don’t care for. Breastfeeding helps—it causes the uterus to contract, thus hastening the healing process.

Good to know: Passing small clots during your first week postpartum is normal. But if your discharge is bright red after the first week, or if you’re having abdominal pain or swelling after the first few days, call your doctor to check for hemorrhaging.

Sitting pains

The situation: All the stretching and pushing to get your baby out has taken its toll on your body, making it difficult to sit or put pressure in your pelvic area. This is to be expected, especially if you had a tear or have an episiotomy—a surgical cut between the anus and the vagina.


What to do: Ice the pain away. Place some crushed ice in a bag and apply to your vagina area while you’re resting to ease inflammation and pain. Another remedy is witch hazel: soak a washcloth with water, freeze it, then sit on it. If you have hemorrhoids, ask your doctor to prescribe other options for relief, like medicated pads to clean the area and hemorrhoid cream mixed with cortisone to help the itching. Keep off your feet when you can, and sit on a cushioned doughnut to keep your bottom off too. Eat properly to avoid constipation as straining can make hemorrhoids worse.

Good to know: Discomfort should lessen a bit each day. Most stitches heal with no side effects. But if the area becomes red, swollen, or increasingly painful, or has an unpleasant odor, you may have developed an infection.  


The situation: You laugh, sneeze, or cough—and then you feel a leakage! It’s embarrassing but it’s normal. Studies show that 21 percent of women will experience urinary-stress incontinence due to weakened perineal muscles, an instrument-assisted delivery, or an episiotomy.

What to do: Keep on with the Kegels! They strengthen your pelvic floor muscles – the muscles that support your urethra, bladder, uterus, and rectum. Just pretend that you're trying to stop yourself from passing gas and interrupt the flow of urine at the same time. You should feel a sensation of squeezing and lifting. Make sure only your pelvic muscles are engaged; do not pull in in your tummy, squeeze your legs together, tighten your buttocks, or hold your breath. If you are still leaking after six weeks, call your doctor and find out what’s going on.

Good to know: If you keep doing Kegels, you will have stronger pelvic floor muscles which may also guard against pelvic organ prolapse, a common condition among older women. 

Incision issues

The situation: If you delivered via C-Section, you might experience discomfort at the incision site. You might be worried about the stitches and if it’s healing properly.

What to do: You’ll need to take it easier. A Cesarean section is a major operation. It’s harder on you than for those who delivered vaginally. When you’re ready, take slow walks to prevent swelling and blood clots in your legs. Your doctor should have given you instructions on how to care and dress your wound.  Keep it clean and wear soft clothing. You can try to pad it with a light sanitary napkin. Keep a close watch on it. If your incision gapes open, bleeds, becomes inflamed, or oozes discharge, or if you develop a fever, you might need medical treatment.

Good to know: You can take pain medication to help you manage the discomfort, but always check with your doctor especially if you’re breastfeeding. Also, she can prescribe an anti-itch treatment if you feel like scratching.


5 Ways to Make Your Postpartum Recovery Easier (Really!)