Postpartum Do's and Don'tsby Dianna Graveman
Preparing for and giving birth can be such a busy and exciting time. But the weeks and months following your baby's arrival will be just as busy and exciting, and in the midst of caring for your new little one, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. Read on for a few "Do's and Don'ts" to help you regain and maintain your energy and cheerful outlook in the months ahead:
- Do remember that it takes time for your body to return to its pre-pregnancy state. Be gentle with yourself.
- Do begin walking short distances as soon as possible after birth, with your health care provider's approval.
- Do exercise at a level that is comfortable for you. Just because your best friend was running marathons six weeks after she gave birth does not mean you have to.
- Do breathe deeply while exercising. Don't hold your breath.
- Do talk to your health care provider before beginning an exercise routine postpartum.
- Do stop exercising if you notice an increase in bleeding or any bright red bleeding. Call your doctor.
- Do begin Kegels (pelvic floor exercises) as soon as possible after birth.
Here's a basic guide:
1. While lying, sitting, or standing, gently tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor for two or three seconds, and then relax. Do this two or three times per session.
2. Gradually increase the length of time you tighten the muscles to five seconds and then ten seconds. Try to work up to twenty seconds each time before relaxing the muscles.
3. Increase the number of times you do this exercise until you are performing at least five Kegels during several sessions each day.
- Do avoid back strain after giving birth by pushing objects instead of pulling them.
- Don't bend over with straight knees to pick something up; rather spread your feet apart, one foot in front of the other, and bend your knees.
- Do drink a lot of water to help flush toxins, reduce swelling, and promote healing.
- Don't focus too heavily on weight loss. Eat healthy meals and snacks when you are hungry.
- Do plan quick and easy meals the first few weeks so that you won't feel overextended.
Friends and Family:
Don't be ashamed to ask or accept help from friends or family members, whether it is an offer to clean your house, do some laundry, pick up a few groceries, or simply give you a break so that you can meet a friend for lunch.
Don't be afraid to tell friends and family members when you are not up to a visit or just want a quiet afternoon or evening alone with your baby.
Don't worry about having a spotless home when guests pop in to see the new arrival. Most people will understand how busy you are and how important it is for you to spend as much time as possible with your baby, especially if you will soon return to the workplace. You will only have once chance to experience these precious early weeks with your newborn. You will have the rest of your life to keep house.
Out and About:
- Do get as much sleep as you can. Nap when your baby naps.
- Depending on the climate where you live, do spend some time outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine when possible.
- Do consider connecting with other new mothers or forming a small support group to discuss parenting concerns and to just share a few laughs about the difficulties of new parenthood.
- Don't listen to every piece of advice you receive--especially if it contradicts something about which you feel strongly. Both new and experienced parents (not to mention grandparents) will often offer unsolicited advice, and much of it is based on opinion, not fact. Do your own research or consult your health care provider.
- Don't expect to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes right away. Try not to worry about perfect hair, makeup, and manicures. Just enjoy this special time with your baby, family, and friends.
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