Motherhood,  My OT tips

4 Self-Care Tips for New Moms

So you had a baby, yay! But now you’re expected to take care of a baby AND recover from delivering a human into the world?! There are plenty of resources for how to take care of a newborn baby but not as many for how to take care of yourself. Sure they tell you how to deal with breastfeeding, sleep schedules (or lack of sleep), taking sitz baths, changing diapers, changing your OWN diapers, etc., but there are some things they left out. For example, the upper-backaches you’ll likely get from lifting the baby all day, or how your core strength will be completely shot. I wanted to share a few tips that I came up with after going through this twice. This isn’t a post about “snapping back” to your former figure, but rather getting back to feeling more like yourself.

Remember that every woman’s delivery and recovery is unique, and as with all my usual blog post disclaimers, this is based off of my personal experience and clinical knowledge.  Always consult your medical professional first. This post contains affiliate links.

  1. Start strong at the hospital

Wait what? I just had a baby and you expect me to do something?? Trust me, I know. After both of my c-sections I was laid up in bed with my blood pressure in the 80’s/40’s and could barely lift my head up off the pillow, let alone feed a hungry tiny human every 2 hours. But if you’re delivery was relatively uncomplicated, there are a few easy things can help you get a good start at recovering as quickly as possible:

  • Drink fluids- HYDRATION IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. Whether you had natural delivery or c-section, you need to replenish the loss of fluids.  It’ll help you regain your energy, and if you’re breastfeeding, you need to up your intake of fluids anyways. They give you a big water pitcher for a reason! Keep it coming.
  • Move around in bed- It’s tough to get out of bed that first time, it took me a whole day and a half after both deliveries. However, it’s beneficial to start moving in bed as soon as you can. Pumping your ankles will help with circulation, returning fluids back up your body so that it doesn’t pool at your feet and cause blood clots. If you’ve had a c-section, practice putting your bed flat if you can. I made the mistake of keeping the bed upright most of the first and second day and when I tried to exit the bed for the first time, I couldn’t stand up straight. Scar tissue had already started to form and it was painful to stretch out!
  • Start Kegels– Your poor lady parts down there have taken quite a beating. Even if you’ve had a c-section, your pelvic floor muscles are very lax. If your able to contract those kegels without pain (like trying to stop the flow of urine), your bladder muscles will start strengthening. We all know peeing when you sneeze is not pleasant. Here is more info on kegel techniques.
  • When you’re ready, take that walk in the hallway- I always encourage my patients to mobilize early after surgery, and same applies to delivering a baby. Even a short trip to the door and back, though it may be painful and feel like you’re at sloth pace, can do wonders for your body.

2. Practice Good Baby Body Mechanics

  • Don’t carry the weight on your shoulders- There is a lot of bending over and lifting when you’re caring for a newborn. Bending over the bassinet or crib and bending over to change their diapers. Another time you may find yourself hunching over is breastfeeding (bringing the boob to the baby instead of the baby to your boob). Naturally, your shoulders hunch over when doing these tasks and puts strain on the muscles in between your shoulder blades and on your neck muscles. Improper body mechanics over time or prolonged awkward positioning can lead to repetitive strain injury. Some call this the “Mom Posture”. Check your posture while doing them, and always place a pillow or bolster under the baby to boost them up to your chest height when feeding. Here are some easy stretches:

  • Beware of the Infant carrier- Those dreaded infant carriers/car seats/portable spaceships are the devil aren’t they? Of course they keep your little nugget safe and are easy to transport from home to car to stroller, but wow are they a pain to lug around by hand. Two of the main body mechanics principles: lift with your legs, carry it as close to your core as possible. This videp with a new carrying technique has become pretty popular. Try it out!

3.  Stabilize your core

What core you say? Exactly. After pregnancy has stretched your abdominal muscles to epic proportions, it takes a lot to bring them all back to their normal state. A common occurrence is Diastisis Recti Abdominis, which is the separation of the abdominal muscles. It is not permanent, and there are exercises that can help with this condition, once your physician clears you for it.

  • Medical grade abdominal corset- To preface, I’m not talking about a corset that is used purely for aesthetics and getting that “snapback” game in gear. This is a corset to give you that core stability during the first 6 weeks of recovery while your core seems nonexistent. During my second pregnancy, we made a decision to have a planned c-section given the complications we experienced with our first delivery.  I found out about Bellefit* corset, which is a medical grade brace, specifically designed for postpartum wear.  There are even corsets that are specific for C-section recovery. I started wearing it the day I got home from the hospital, for about 10 hours a day. It definitely made it easier to get up from a lying position and gave me support when lifting and carrying Carter. Although my initial reason for getting the corset wasn’t for aesthetics, the secondary effect of this corset is that it does make a more flattering figure under clothing. I wish I had it for my first postpartum experience!  *BTW Bellefit did not sponsor this post, it is simply my own product review and recommendation. (I’m wearing the corset in my photo above, but below is the model taken from their website). Here are the different corsets that you can purchase on amazon:

Check out their website Bellefit for more info!

  • Beginning exercise– When your doctor clears your for exercise (usually around 6 weeks), ease into it gradually. Listen to your body. There are plenty of postpartum exercises out there, but I think the more for fun ones are using your newborn as resistance weight. Here are a few to try.

4. Take time for yourself

This is the most important and most difficult tip to follow.  You go from being pregnant, only having to focus on yourself (and others treating you like a Queen), to being a mom and being responsible for the well-being of a tiny human. Especially if you are exclusively breastfeeding, you are their sole source of nutrition, making your role that much more indispensable.It’s natural to put the baby as your priority and let your own needs fall by the side.  However, if you don’t give yourself the care and attention it needs, you won’t be able to be an adequate caregiver to your little one. Do yourself and your body a favor: accept whatever help that is offered, steal away to take a long hot shower, longer nap or my favorite: go shopping without needing to push a stroller. You deserve it all!

Hope these tips helped a little bit! You go mamas. You are AMAZING!

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