Postpartum Recovery

Postpartum Recovery

The Transition from Womb to World

By the end of your pregnancy, whether it's preterm or full term, your body will have gone to great lengths to grow and protect your baby. All the changes your body goes through—from your enlarged uterus to your aching spine—will forever prove that bringing life into this world isn't easy but a sacramental experience. Looking back on your pregnancy journey, hopefully, you'll remember mostly the beautiful moments and leave the pain & agony in the past.

Now that phase one of becoming a new parent has come to an end, it's time to embark on a new journey toward postpartum. This is a journey that no one can actually be ready for, but you can do your best to prepare yourself.

During your pregnancy, you've probably gotten used to all types of new habits and adjusted your life around some discomforts—all with the anticipation of meeting your new bundle of joy. We don't blame you for fantasizing about all the 'future firsts' you'll be enjoying. Seeing your baby via sonogram and feeling those occasional kicks can have your imagination running wild with excitement. We also know that without considering what your new life will look and feel like–postpartum can be quite a shock.

Finally, being able to see and touch your baby feels like heaven on earth, but there are a bunch of obstacles and triumphs before, during, and after those feelings. The Wombilee team has got your back with this thorough guide through postpartum so you can feel prepared to survive and thrive.

Postpartum Recovery

Just when you got the hang of your pregnant waddle, you'll be trading it in for the notorious 'baby in arms bounce.' As you care for your new baby, your mind and body will be busy recuperating. Recovering from birth will be a different journey for everyone, especially when considering the type of birth you've experienced. There are several scenarios to consider, like water birth, cesarean section surgery (C-sections), birth traumas, or visits to the NICU (just to name a few). Your unique birth story will determine who you will become and your new outlook on life.

We can't always control what is meant for us, and oftentimes, the postpartum phase shows you new strengths you never knew you had.

There doesn't seem to be any specific time frame for the postpartum phase; each person has their own experience. Just like in pregnancy, there are many stages to experience based on the timing of your baby's growth and your stage of healing. Since so much is going on at once, we've broken down what you may experience, one aspect of life at a time.

Physical Recovery

You'll be amazed by what your body is truly capable of. Depending on how your baby was brought into this world, your body may need moderate to severe recovery. From enduring contractions to pushing out your baby, your body will need to regenerate from using an extreme amount of strength and energy.

Vaginal births and C-section births are of two different worlds. Even though vaginal births are hard work, it's generally easier on mama's body than a C-section. The physical recovery time is typically shorter and less painful than the surgery. Considering that there were no major complications, you should be able to walk almost immediately after delivery. There will be soreness and some possible perineum tearing to heal. Vaginal birth recovery can take anywhere from three weeks if you didn't tear, to six weeks or more if you had a tear or an episiotomy.

C-section recovery, on the other hand, can be more challenging. Although this procedure is considered common, it still falls on the scale of major surgery, making the recovery more strenuous. There are six separate layers of the abdominal wall and uterus to cut through to get to your baby. Walking may not be as easy after this surgery, and you won't be expected to for at least 48 hours after. Recovery is expected to be around 4 to 6 weeks, but it takes the body almost an entire year to fully heal.

You're not only recovering from your birth. During your pregnancy, organs have shifted to make room for your baby, and now, during postpartum, it's time to put all that work into reverse—including your uterus taking back its original form. You may still feel aches and pains, similar to period cramps. Don't worry, it should all be temporary.

As the weeks go by and you care for your baby, you may get used to your new body and how to maneuver yourself. Being a mother is a superpower! Now that your priorities have shifted, you may find the difficulties of your recovery more manageable—keeping your discomforts on the back burner of your mind. Just know that this means that your mind is focused on healing, and that's half of the job.

You know your own body better than anyone; you shouldn't push yourself. You'll know when you're ready to get back into things like picking up items heavier than your baby or working out (which is not recommended for the first three weeks after a vaginal birth and 4-6 weeks after a C-section.) You should check in with your healthcare provider between 1-3 weeks after birth, especially if you feel unsure about your stability.

Mental recovery

During birth, your mind has done amazing things to bring your baby into this world. In fact, your mind worked just as hard as your body. The unique thing is your body is designed to do these things naturally; your mindset, on the other hand, was pure strength and resilience. As your body readjusts itself from the extreme circumstances of childbirth, your mind may take a while to catch up.

After giving birth, your mind may be blown when you realize what you've done to get your baby here safely. You may also be overwhelmed & overjoyed as you finally meet your baby for the first time while also considering that your life has now completely changed. And if you've had a hospital birth, it may be overwhelming to experience this beautiful moment with plenty of hospital staff around you.

As your mind eventually catches up as much as it can, you'll realize how unbelievably exhausted you are while simultaneously being alert. This will likely go on for the first year of your baby's life. As your baby grows, it will get easier as your baby sleeps more and feeds less frequently.

If you've had a stressful or traumatic birth, mentally coping may feel difficult and a job of its own. Trying to focus on yourself while adjusting to your new life as a mom can feel complex.

As your baby evolves through the newborn stages, you may notice how powerful you truly are despite any stresses you feel. Try to remember to take a moment to see what once seemed to be overwhelming is now something you've successfully overcome. The mind is a machine that runs on experience; whether this is your first or fifth childbirth—your mind will adjust and strengthen like a new muscle.

Emotional Recovery

Everything about who you've been since you've gotten pregnant, especially since you've given birth, has been overflowing with hormones. Your thoughts, feelings, reactions, and perceptions have all been infiltrated with excess hormones—and when combined with your physical and mental hurdles, you may find yourself experiencing 'the baby blues' or potentially—postpartum depression.

You may run through the entire emotional spectrum during the first few months. The feeling of selflessness can make you feel both powerful and weak. A very common postpartum emotion is fear: fear of you or your baby's health, failure, or absolutely anything going wrong. In hindsight, these feelings could represent your devotion to protecting your child. Take note that without rationalizing your fears, you can block yourself from the other emotions that allow you to enjoy parenthood.

There's no one way to recover emotionally from your experience. Whether it was a beautiful experience or a traumatic one, you must take each day as it comes. Every day is so different, never the same as the last.

As you witness your body heal and your baby grows, your emotions will evolve along with the newness. Trust that the moments that bring you joy can outmaneuver any hardship.

Loving Advice for Postpartum Recovery

What you've done with your body is your superpower. You're an amazing person for bringing a human into this world. Don't hide from your body, nor should you rush yourself to see changes. Appreciate your body today; take photos to look back at yourself and remember who you've become and how powerful you are.

Everything about who you are and how your body is designed is meant for such divinity. Think of all the generations before you being within you. Continue to follow your intuition and trust that your body knows what to do—you should know this well based on your pregnancy.

Remember, try to find moments throughout your day with your baby to create memories you'll emotionally cherish forever. At times, more than the pictures will be needed.

Some days, this job may feel difficult; on others, you'll feel all the power it takes to be a mother. The truth is, this is who you were destined to be. You were born with this power.

Lastly, always think back and recognize each obstacle you've overcome, how you've handled it, and how you've already been thriving in your own way. Growing and raising a human is no simple task, but if you do it with love & care, you should feel proud of your journey.