We all want to know what kind of things will speed up postpartum recovery time, but (as with much of postpartum recovery) the answer is not cut and dry (unfortunately).
Having a baby is both incredibly amazing and exhausting. It’s really a lot of hard work!
This guest post article is written by Kimberly C. Starr, a writer, a ginger, a nurse, a wife, and a mom to four. She knows how hard adulting and momming can be, which is why on KimberlyCStarr.com she shares the tips, tools, and knowledge she’s gained that can help you keep your sanity – and smile – intact.
And while I’d like to complain about how nobody prepares you for just what that hard work entails, I have to take a step back and remember something important… as a Registered Nurse, I’m one of the ones who’s supposed to be warning and teaching all y’all of what’s headed your way.
So, let’s make sure you’re properly prepared for how hard recovery is going to be. (Because there are a number of shocking things about postpartum recovery.)
But, more importantly, let’s make sure that you’ve got the info and tools you need to speed up postpartum recovery. Let’s make sure you’re ready to get back to your new normal faster, stronger, and better than ever. After all, that’s the goal regardless of if you’re healing postpartum after vaginal birth or recovering from a c-section.
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
How Much Can We Speed Up Postpartum Recovery Time?
Before we talk about how to speed up postpartum recovery time, we need to talk about normal healing time.
Unless you’ve got regenerative superpowers like Wolverine or Deadpool, you simply aren’t going to be able to heal from childbirth overnight. I don’t think either of those guys could handle childbirth, but that’s a topic for another day.
Normal recovery from childbirth is going to depend on a lot of factors. Factors like:
Did you deliver vaginally or via c-section?Was there any tearing or ripping?Did you require stitches? If so, what kind and how many?Were there any other injuries associated with childbirth, like a broken tailbone?How much sleep are you going to be able to get after having your baby?What are you eating on a regular basis, both before and after giving birth?How does your genetic makeup and family history affect healing?
And those are just the factors I can think of in the first 30 seconds, y’all. There are a TON of factors. Like if your babies don’t sleep like mine didn’t? You won’t be sleeping as well – and that will affect your healing. Yeah – sleep regressions STINK.
In any case, that’s why your obstetrician or midwife should be talking with you about what you specifically can expect. Because they know more about you than I do, even with my fancy BSN Registered Nurse degree.
Oh, and that reminds me. None of this should be construed as medical advice – always talk to your doctor for specific guidance on your medical and health needs. If you’re really that bored and want to read my full disclosure, there you go. Or if you’d rather get my anecdotal health stories and info, there you go, too.
In any case, speeding up your recovery isn’t typically going to be measured in weeks or months – because that’s how long it’ll take to heal. You can, however, speed it up by small amounts. But more importantly, these tips can make your recovery more comfortable, less distracting, and an overall better experience.
Here’s How to Speed Up Postpartum Recovery – and Make it More Enjoyable (or At Least Less Awkward)
1. Keep ‘er Clean, Ladies
You want to heal faster? Keep things clean. I don’t mean STERILE – because that’s just not possible. But keep thing clean and dry. Especially your perineum (girly parts). This is so that you aren’t discovering funky bacterium or fungi growing, which will make recovery longer and harder.
Here’s a few ways to do that:
Use the big pads – and change them as needed.Take that shower! You’ve earned it.Wear the mesh hospital/granny panties so that your pad stays in place.Once your doctor gives the go-ahead, take a sitz bath.
Okay, but knowing all that doesn’t help you get clean, does it? So here’s how to GET clean.
Take care of that bathroom business.Use that peri (squirt) bottle the L&D nurses gave you. Or, convince your husband to install a bidet. For our 4th baby, I finally got the bidet and it was amazing. Mostly because it had steadily warm water – not the either scalding or too-cold water from the squirt bottle. But hey – maybe you’re better at gauging water temperature out of a sink than I am.Consider gently patting things dry. Because bacteria like wet and warm – and there’s not much you can do about the warm. So control the wet, y’all.Put on a fresh pad and waddle back into those loose, comfy postpartum clothes.
It’s a bit of a production every time you go to the bathroom, I know. But it’s worth it if it can help you skip any infection – and help you speed up the postpartum recovery process.
2. Use All the Recommended Meds and Ointments
The next thing you can do to make the healing process faster (and easier!) is to take or use all of the recommended medicines and ointments.
Stool softeners are lifesavers. Your body just went through some massive trauma. That can affect your intestinal motility. And if you had any painkillers, that stops up your intestines.
In other words, it just got a lot harder to poop. So take the stool softeners. They aren’t habit forming, but they will make your first few weeks postpartum much less awkward.
Your doctor may also recommend you take ibuprofen or Tylenol. Those aren’t just for pain, friends. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
In other words, it helps control swelling. You know, the kind of swelling that happens after you birth a cute little baby. So take the medicines as directed – they’ll help you heal faster.
Ointments are amazing, too. My doctor always gave me a soothing ointment to use after cleaning. It had some numbing and pain relief qualities, but it also helped me stay cleaner.
In other words, it helped me heal faster. So if your doctor gives you any ointments or sprays, use them as directed.
Oh – and if you plan on breastfeeding and your doctor doesn’t mention using a good nipple cream? Get some anyway. Use it after cleaning your nipples so you aren’t sealing bacteria in that could cause mastitis (a breast infection).
You’ll also want to use ice on your perineum. If your hospital is anything like mine, they used gloves as the ice bags. It was kind of strange, sitting on an ice-filled hand (er, glove).
But the ice helps control the swelling and improves healing time. So, for the first few days, ice that area. Just don’t overdo it. If it’s getting too cold, take it off. And make sure you wrap a washcloth around the ice so it isn’t damaging your sensitive skin.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Finally, the best way to heal faster from childbirth is to take care of yourself. That doesn’t mean you kick back in a recliner and take the next six months off (tempting, though!).
It means you need to get adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise. Oh – and keep taking a good quality prenatal vitamin. That’ll help make sure you’re getting enough nutrition, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Wait – did I just say exercise? Yup. I just said you need to exercise after having a baby. Thankfully, “exercising” after childbirth is generally known as “walking around awkwardly”.
There’s a reason those Labor & Delivery nurses have you up and walking around as soon as they can after delivery – that movement gets your blood flowing and muscles moving. And that helps you heal faster.
So don’t just sit there – get up and go. If an awkward waddle-walk around the room is all you can manage, go for it. It’ll help you feel better faster. You’ll be able to ramp things up slowly – just listen to both your body and your doctor.
But oh, that reminds me – there’s actually ONE more thing you need to do to speed up postpartum recovery.
4. Be Aware of Your Mental and Emotional Health
This one is SO important, y’all. If you are one of the countless women who suffer from postpartum depression (also known as the baby blues) or its dastardly cousin postpartum psychosis, know that you’re not alone. (Postpartum anxiety is also very real!)
Your doctor and other women can help you through it. Help may include medicine, therapy, or some combination of the two.
You don’t have to do it alone.
Because accepting help in this regard can definitely speed up your mental and emotional postpartum recovery time. When in doubt? Talk to your doctor. Talk to other women. And as other women talk to you, offer them the same support, care, and consideration you’d like to get.
But always get help.
Accepting help and using tips like this will help you feel better faster. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally, too. It worked for me – and it’s working for women worldwide. So treat yourself, y’all. Because you and your baby are worth it!
Now go cuddle that cute baby!
More on How You Can Speed Up Postpartum Recovery:
Recovering from Delivery – FamilyDoctor.orgHealing Postpartum After Vaginal Birth – Mommy on PurposeHealing Hints: What Postpartum Recovery is Really Like – Parents.com
My Must-Have Postpartum Recovery Resources:
Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray for Postparum and PregnancyDermoplast Pain Relieving SprayI love and recommend wearing these amazing compression socks to survive each day – they give your legs the support and comfort they need to survive without swelling like crazy!
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Bringing Baby Home – Enjoying the First Week With a NewbornHow to Pee Postpartum (without crying)