5 things to do before giving birth for a quicker postpartum recovery

Your body goes through some miraculous changes throughout pregnancy to foster the growth of your baby. When you reach your final trimester, and closer to your due date, thinking about the delivery process can be slightly nerve-wracking. 

More so the uncertainty of the healing during the postpartum phase can also add to the anxiety. Which makes being prepared for your fourth trimester all the more important. 

In this article we’ll share a few tips that’ll surely benefit a smoother recovery after your delivery.

1. Follow a nutritious diet

With pregnancy cravings and the widely propagated myth that you’re potentially eating for two, it’s relatively easy to eat much more than you essentially should during your pregnancy. However, a nutritious diet is essential to assisting with your postpartum recovery. 

Eating small healthy meals and adding good amounts of fiber to your diet helps prevent constipation, not only during pregnancy but also in your postpartum phase. Hemorrhoids are also a possible concern of the postpartum phase. To prevent this it’s advised that you gain and maintain the right weight throughout your pregnancy. If you’re carrying around excess weight, this will apply direct pressure to your pelvic floor and can worsen hemorrhoids, not to mention, a future case of incontinence following delivery. We advise you to speak with your doctor and decide what a healthy weight is for you during your pregnancy.

Additionally, drink plenty of water! A healthy intake of water is vital for your growing baby. You may not know, but during pregnancy your blood volume increases, making you dehydrated quicker. Therefore, getting into the habit of drinking more water can not only benefit your baby but also ease the chances of developing constipation postpartum.

2. Maintain an active lifestyle

With your pregnant belly getting bigger by the day, the extra weight that you’re carrying around may seem like exercise enough. However, remaining active throughout, and especially toward the end of your pregnancy journey can help you to have a smooth delivery and may also assist with recovery in your postpartum phase.

There’s no need to do strenuous workouts or keep up with your pre-pregnancy fitness regimes. Modifying and even adding regular walks to your day is sufficient during the last stretch of your pregnancy.

Maintaining an active lifestyle throughout your pregnancy also helps to get back to exercising sooner once your doctor gives you a green signal to do so. In a nutshell, light exercise during your pregnancy and once you're cleared from your doctor after giving birth can help your whole body recovery quickly. 

3. Consider a perineal massage

A perineal massage is an excellent way to reduce the risk of perineal tearing during your delivery as well as potentially reduce the duration of delivery.

Massaging your perineum can start a few weeks before you deliver asIt helps to prepare your perineal muscles to accommodate your baby. Don’t fear! It’s  relatively easy to conduct a perineal massage yourself:

  • To begin with, you should sit in a comfortable position that gives you access to your perineum. 
  • With clean fingers gently massage the perineum (area between your vagina and rectum). 

You might also slowly want to start applying pressure to the opening of your birth canal (which is about an inch into your vagina) and slowly stretch it out to prepare it for delivery.

However, it may not always be easy to know exactly how to conduct a perineal massage, so it would be best to first talk through the steps with your pelvic physical therapist or doctor. You can also ask your partner to assist you with a perineal massage.

4. Continue practicing your Kegels

Practicing your Kegel exercises throughout your pregnancy is highly recommended and if  you haven’t been doing so, now is a great time to start!

Carrying your baby around for nine months, along with all the pressure of delivery, puts a lot of strain on your pelvic floor. To assist with a quicker recovery, preventing tears, and incontinence after delivery, we highly recommend Kegels exercises in order to strengthen your pelvic floor. 

Incorporating your Kegel exercises into your daily routine will also help you with vaginal recovery, which can enable you to enjoy your sex life whenever you’re ready in your postpartum phase.

5. Prepare for your postpartum healing

This essentially means keeping all the essentials that you’ll need ready for your postpartum phase.

For starters, your perineum is going to need some care after you’re back home. Through all the pushing during delivery, it’s possible to develop hemorrhoids, or tears within your perineum which may lead to needing stitches.. In general, you’re going to be sore down there for quite a while after your delivery. Consider stocking up on ice packs, spray bottles, and cooling pads. You might also need witch hazel pads stored in your freezer for use in your postpartum recovery.

It would also be good to get in extra hours of sleep in the weeks leading up to your delivery. Once your baby is here, you’ll quickly realize that you might get in only a few winks of sleep every now and then.

In short, you can never be too prepared for your postpartum phase. All the pregnancy and post-pregnancy books can only guide, but each journey is different, with new and unexpected twists! To be able to enjoy the arrival of your little one, it would be a great asset to recover soon following your delivery. Keeping this in mind, do whatever you feel is best for you and wherever necessary, do not hesitate to ask for help from those close by as well as your doctor.

Article written by
Michelle Frank, Medical Doctor
Director: Health & Wellness at Naima
@DrMichelleF 

Learn more about postpartum and pregnancy:

Discover the magic behind a healthy pelvic floor:

 

References:

  • Durnea CM, Khashan AS, Kenny LC, Durnea UA, Dornan JC, O'Sullivan SM, et al. What is to blame for postnatal pelvic floor dysfunction in primiparous women-Pre-pregnancy or intrapartum risk factors? European journal of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. 2017;214:36-43. 
  • Kapoor, D.S., Freeman, R.M. Pregnancy, childbirth and urinary incontinence. In: Haslam, J., Laycock, J. (eds)Therapeutic Management of Incontinence and Pelvic Pain.London: Springer-Verlag. 2008. 
  • https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/circulationaha.114.009029#:~:text=Blood%20volume%20increases%20significantly%20within,%2C%20usually%20close%20to%2045%25.