What Doctors Never Tell You: Postpartum Recovery January 24, 2013 11:47

For most women, her baby’s birth marks a milestone for her body. Aside from breastfeeding, her body will become hers again and in many ways it will return to its former shape, or just modified in minor ways.

During pregnancy, women acknowledge the changing form of their bodies; and while most of us appreciate and embrace the process, there is a longing for the postpartum time, when we physically begin to return to 'normal'. 

What came as a major surprise to me – and I’ve learned, also for many of my friends – was that the physical pain, ailments and changes do not magically exit the body alongside the baby at birth. The postpartum recovery period is a long one – and while many women are somewhat prepared for the hormonal roller coaster that awaits them in the postpartum, they often have no idea how difficult the physical restoration can be. 

If you are pregnant, take some time to talk to friends who have been through it before you and get the gory details about what comes after you ‘deliver’ the baby and subsequent placenta. And I’ll prepare you – it is messy.

When recovering from a vaginal birth, going to the bathroom is a process that takes about 5-10 minutes each time, even just to pee. You are sore, in pain and uncomfortable for up to six weeks. You will be at least moderately incontinent for at least a couple weeks, usually longer for most women. If you pushed for a long time or had a strained birth, all of the after affects will be more severe and take longer to subside. The harder you push yourself to be up and at it again, the longer your body will take to restore to full strength.

I’m sharing this simply to provide some friendly ‘warning’. I had wished that someone would have shared with me what to expect in the postpartum phase, because I was truly surprised at what my body went through those first few weeks after my precious little babe arrived. Below are a few tips that helped me immensely – some I did after my first baby, and some I adopted and used for recovery after my second baby. 

If you are expecting, congratulations! And just remember that our bodies are beautiful and made to do this blessed work. It is hard, but worth every ache, pain and discomfort. And while the postpartum period feels like an eternity, after it has passed it will be a distant memory and you’ll be wondering how your newborn grew so big so fast.

My personal recovery remedies: 

·      At least a few days (preferably a week) of bed rest at home with your newborn snuggled up with you

·      A healthy, nutrient rich diet full of protein and whole foods

·      Witch hazel in a ‘peri-bottle’ near the toilet and on cotton pads stored in the freezer (these frozen witch hazel pads are very soothing on sore bottoms)

·      Twice or more daily HOT sitz baths with Epsom salts and/or postpartum herbs (Earth Mama Angel Baby makes some bath satchels that we sell on the site)

·      Wish Garden Herbs ‘After Ease’ herbal tincture to help with postpartum contractions

·      Stool softeners

·      This is a little TMI here, but you will thank yourself later if you have a cleanly shaven/groomed bikini area for this phase

·      Daily affirmations that you are amazing, beautiful and your body will be yours again in good time, and reminders to relax and just enjoy


This photo was taken at the end of my bed rest period after my second baby.