7 tips To Support Your Body’s Postnatal Recovery

by | Mar 25, 2024 | WellMom pre- & postnatal

Father holding a baby aloft with a joyful expression as mother works on a laptop at the kitchen table, offering tips for postnatal recovery.

Modern life, for its myriad of benefits, has left us without a familiar village to impart knowledge and assume supportive roles through early motherhood. This means that self care and help seeking falls on the shoulders of the new mom.

Team up with your partner to think about and decide on practical support for your holistic wellbeing (physical, mental and emotional) and to enable you to thrive in your transition into motherhood. Examples are planning to delegate the tasks that drain or frustrate you; agreeing on support in areas that cause you anxiety; planning some time to do things that make you happy; planning on how to support your body’s recovery.

Establishing the mindset to facilitate your own recovery and your transition into motherhood, will direct choices, even the small ones which all add up, to enable a healthier and happier you.

Why plan ahead?

Once you’re holding the new centre of your universe in your arms, your attention and energy will be consumed by caring for him or her.

Having a few of the simple things already in place can fundamentally change a moment, or course of events, when it really matters. 

Here are seven tips to help your physical recovery:

1) Your web of support.

Jot down a list of people you can call on, with how they can help. Family, friends, and medical professionals.

2) Stock your freezer and pantry with nourishing food.

Think of meals you love and that have lots of the good stuff your body needs to heal – protein-rich, collagen-rich, easily digestible veggies, low GI carbs to avoid the avoidable crashes. Healthy fats are crucial, as well as your preggie supplements. Consider avoiding ingredients that are said to affect breastmilk. Have your snacks and drinks to hydrate …. This all this demands some thought!

3) Create your movement or exercise space.

Create your ‘happy body’ zone. Intend it to be a space where you get to relax, restore and strengthen your body. Ideas of items can be a yoga mat, a pillow and rubber ball.

Set up next to your baby’s tummy-time floor mat, to immediately making this a time that you are both doing body work!  Or a quite spot in front of a window where you can retreat for a minute to ease your back in a child’s pose, do a few pelvic floor or tummy contractions, or just breathe!

Having the space set up will lead you into doing movement, instead of having barriers to get to it.

4) Have your ‘home shoes’ and ‘walking shoes’ ready.

You will be amazed at how may steps you can do in a day in caring for a newborn. Your feet will benefit from the support of good shoes while walking up and down a hundred times to soothe baby.

You can start ”Restorative walking” when you no longer have a pulling sensation across your c-section scar, and when your pelvis is comfortable.  “Restorative walking” is just that –  is going outside, enjoying the sunshine, moving in a rhythmical way to relax your body mind, and help yourself restore. Its to give you energy, not sap your energy or drive weight loss. 10 minutes 2ce a day is a good start. 

5) Really think about your new ‘work’ space set-up.

Your feeding space equipment (like easily-reached water bottle, wipes, and cloths) and physical support ( your feet should be supported if they are not comfortably on the ground, feeding pillows).  The baby bath set up to avoid back ache, because some babies are just so happy in the water! A good pillow for your neck. Find ways to support yourself while your core is recovering, like putting your knee on your bed when bending over it. Have a step at your toilet to put your feet up on – this supports a healthy toileting position for you, and later for your little one.

6) Understand the phases of healing.

General physical postnatal recovery milestones are:
By 2-3 weeks, most of the acute or intense aches and pains from the birth should have largely eased. 

By 6 weeks your uterus will have returned to its normal size. Much spontaneous physical recovery will have happened, relieving you of pelvic discomfort, joint or muscle pains, haemorrhoids, incontinence, abnormal bladder habits, and a weakened linear alba. 6 weeks is a benchmark in caesarean scar healing, but the change continues beyond 6 weeks.

6-12 weeks is a time to start building your strength as your body is continuing to change, until the next milestone at 12 weeks, and to ensure your c-section scar is mobile.

By 12 weeks your fascial system will be ready for repetitive high impact loading, such as running, and functional high intensity training. The fascia system is your passive support system – the ligaments and connective tissue that holds you together and keeps everything in place. In your pelvis the important considerations are your bladder, uterus, and pelvic floor. 

Changes in your body continue up to 6 months post delivery.

Note: Special consideration needs to be made on an individual basis.

Women who need to recover from a complicated pregnancy, prolonged bed rest, traumatic or other medical complications will need more time for their bodies to return to normal.

It’s the exceptionally lucky few who can honestly say they feel and look themselves at 6 weeks!

7) Book your physiotherapy postnatal assessment to check how your body is healing.

Know how you are healing physically and what you can do to address problems that may be persisting. A specialist post-natal physiotherapy assessment checks your abdominal wall separation (diastasis) and muscles, your pelvis alignment and pelvic floor muscles, your spine and posture, and guides you on what exercise is right for your body.

Setting out to create part of your post partum experience and support your recovery is accepting wisdom from the past, and cultures where a mother’s recovery remains the primary focus.

An image of a geometric shape on a black background.