When the older women in my family met up during our vacations, as a young girl, I used to hear talk of needing to be close to the loo, pee leaks when they cough or worse when they laugh. Typically this was followed by uncontrollable laughter and totally inappropriate jokes.
That is how we women deal with our lot. Talk about it behind closed doors, laugh about how our bodies stand us through so much and then, when we least expect it they give way. For years, over generations, post delivery care has been passed on from mom to daughter, we don’t discuss it because after all ‘it’s normal’. The times have changed there’s better care and better health postpartum as well that not everyone knows about.
Soon after my first vaginal delivery I saw a Russell Peters show about how being with his wife during delivery left him so traumatised that he wasn’t attracted to her the same way. It was in poor taste and I was so angry at the time. Later it occurred to me if men feel that way just watching the process, why must a woman who goes through it be expected to be up and running within a week? Having the father of the baby during the birth was probably the most revolutionary thing of recent times. Men suddenly woke up to what women went through during childbirth.
Childbirth, for the purpose of this post we’ll focus on Vaginal deliveries, are extremely traumatic and require a lot of post delivery care so women can feel normal again. In fact many women have severe tears, episiotomies (cuts) during vaginal delivery that can be quite serious and require many stitches.
They are considered so normal that we don’t speak of post delivery care for women who’ve had vaginal deliveries. I personally did nothing both times (apart from the great food my mom made sure I got) inspite of having tears and episiotomies, our doctors who give us exemplary care while at the hospital don’t talk about simple home care methods. Moms, god bless them, are the best, I don’t know what we’d do without them but there are simple ways we can care for ourselves and make it easier on our bodies as it heals.
A soothed and cared for healing body is also better for the mind, don’t you think?
I definitely felt much better after my second child because my healing was faster and I feel I may have taken better care of myself.
After doing a quick poll on Instagram here are the top 5 things women have said helped them heal faster and better after their deliveries. Please know you deserve all the post care you need and you can get. Sometimes its up to us to take care of us.
Let’s begin with something that in India we know little about.
Sitz Baths – Let’s start with what so many folks had not heard about, which triggered my next question. A sitz bath is a small basin like tub that let’s you immerse only your hip and pelvic area where you sit in warm / cold water. A sitz bath is totally affordable and can be done at home in a clean bathroom above a western toilet. It cleans, soothes and helps your vagina heal faster and relieves pain especially if you’ve had a tear or episiotomy. You can alternately just use a plastic basin or tub to immerse yourself 2- 3 times a day.
Adding epsom salts can help reduce the swelling, prevents cramping and soothes itchy skin during the healing process.
Sitz baths also help relieve constipation and hemorrhoids both common post delivery.
Kegels – These vaginal muscle exercises are crucial post delivery as well to help tone your muscle. It is said that regular kegels can help reduce incontinence later. I managed my kegels well and that certainly helped the healing process.
Oil Massage and hot water baths – I am told this is a superhealer! So many responses with body massage, not only does it help with healing, it also helps aching muscles when feeding baby, handling baby through the initial sleepless nights.
Healthy postpartum Food – I’m not even going to talk about this because this is the biggest open secret to postpartum healing. Healthy food, garlic, fenugreek, green vegetables, turmeric, laddoos, halwas, kashayas are all super foods for postpartum healing. Not to forget all the liquids you need, soups, juices, dahi and water (lots of it).
Postpartum medication – Most women I know post kids have some or the other chronic pain, hair fall, period issues. Take your medication, especially if you are nursing. Use phone reminders, post it notes, tell your husband to remind you but take them as long as your doctor tells you to.
Get out of the house – I know this goes against what we are typically told but the main difference for me personally between my two pregnancies was getting out of the house faster. After my 10th day check up when I felt well enough I was out with the baby in a carrier taking half hour walks with my older child. The fresh air and movement did wonders for my mental and physical health.
In addition to these – a good perfume (use on clothes or wrist if nursing), a diamond ring 😉 or a shopping spree, online of course can do wonders for your mental health, if these things inspire you.
Do your research, speak to your practitioner, choose the methods that’ll work for you but do take care of yourself. Better healing and self care will go a long way in ensuring your mental health as well.