Everybody talks about how important the newborn baby’s care is and the practices parents must do to ensure they get the required nutrients in their body. Mother’s that have just given birth will need probably the same amount of care and preparations as her newborn!
After finally putting the 40 or so weeks of pregnancy and hours of childbirth behind you, comes the body transition from pregnancy to postpartum. The new mother’s postpartum state of body will come with a new variety of symptoms as well as questions. Here are some tips to know about your postpartum body, the recovery from childbirth and how to prepare yourself – ideally before the delivery happens!
The confinement period is essentially where the new mother will spend this period recovering and resting her body from the traumatic experience the body has just gone through before getting back to her “normal” lifestyle. Mother’s that do not leave the proper time to recover from childbirth, may sometimes lead to depression as the sudden role may become too overwhelming for her. It also doesn’t leave enough time for the new mother to properly bond with her newborn and to regain strength in her body. It is crucial that the new mother should receive the utmost amount of care and support from those around her to speed up the recovery.
If you’ve read our article on an overview of confinement care, you will know that various cultures in Malaysia approach the confinement period differently. For some, the period will last for 30 days whereas some may last up to 40 days or longer depending on the new mother. Apart from preparing yourself for the baby’s arrival, it is also important to prepare your family for the confinement period as well.
Every mother’s body is different so every woman will recover at different rates with different postpartum symptoms as well. Just because your friend may have experienced something, doesn’t mean you will experience it and vice versa. Most symptoms will typically clear within a week whilst others like backaches, sore nipples and perineal pain may continue for a few weeks.
Confinement food takes the first spot on this list because it’s the most important aspect of the new mother’s healing process and confinement period. Having to plan out the new mother’s daily meals that are tailored according to her needs during this period. New mother’s shouldn’t be preparing their confinement period meals and should either seek help from their family members or if they are able to afford it, hire a confinement nanny that will provide everything mother and newborn will need. Although, nowadays there are food confinement services that will deliver your meals to your home either everyday or for the entire confinement period frozen!
Basic herbs that are specially for new mothers are recommended and can be divided into two categories. The first one is tonic supplements for consuming and the second are herbs for bathing. From there, the herbs for tonic supplements can be further divided into two sub-categories. For tonic soup and for confinement tea.
If you are planning to seek help from your family members and will need to prepare the herbs for your soups and tea, head down to a medicinal shop and ask them what are the herbs used for confinement period. Never be shy to ask and remember most mothers out there will probably be doing the same thing! Shop helpers are always willing to help and will probably be ecstatic about you expecting a baby as well!
Make arrangements for help
New mothers will not be in the position to carry out any house chores or responsibilities as her body is still healing from giving birth. Somebody will be required to help the new mother run the home during her confinement period to make it easier for the mother and her family.
The new mother will also require somebody to care for her and her newborn to speed up the recovery. This person can be a family member or confinement nanny depending on your financial situation and if you’re able to afford it. Never try to skip having someone help out in your home as your body will not be able to withstand the pressure and will have side effects that could potentially harm you and your baby.
Again, if you and your family are able to afford it, confinement centres are readily available almost anywhere with professional nurses and nannies to help the new mother and her baby. Whether you are opting to have a confinement nanny live with you, a family member to help out or if you are checking into a confinement centre, BE SURE to finalise all this at the beginning of your pregnancy whilst you’re still able to move around! It also gives you time to get acquainted with the nanny, clarify what her duties will entice, do a thorough check of the confinement centre and its packages etc.
Talk to your family about the expected changes
Before the baby arrives, it’s important to have a sit down chat with family members of the changes that will happen and how it’ll affect them during your confinement/ recovery period. If this is your first child, most fathers will be quite clueless as to what is happening and what to expect! Prepare everybody for the lack of sleep will probably happen at night from the baby’s crying, the mood changes that the new mother’s body is going to experience etc.
There will also most probably be a shift of attention focusing on the newborn and if you have other children in your home, this needs to be explained so that they don’t feel left out or unwanted. This is the same with your partner as well as they might feel you are drifting away. Talk to your partner and family about these changes and be supportive of one another until a routine is formed.
Caring for your Perineal pain / C-section scar
Mother’s that are planning to have a vaginal birth, recovery and the soreness to disappear will depend again on the individual but roughly between 3 – 6 weeks. 6 weeks will be more for mother’s that have had a perineal tear or an episiotomy and 3 weeks if there hasn’t been a tear. Tips on how to care for your perineal pain is to ice your perineal every couple of hours for the first 24 hours after giving birth.
Pouring some warm water over the area before and after urinating helps keep the urine from irritating the torn skin. Also having a warm bath for a maximum of 20 minutes at one time, a few times a day helps to ease the pain too. Lastly, definitely avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time as well as sleeping on your side instead as well.
If you are opting for a C-section, be prepared to spend the first couple of days of postpartum in the hospital recovering, once you’re able to be discharged and return home it will take roughly 4-6 weeks before you’re feeling back to normal.
With the C-section as well, depending on how long you’ve been pushing and how hard, new mother’s can also expect to have some perineal pain too. Once a day, the new mother should clean their C-section incision with soap and water extremely gently. Dry with a clean cloth afterwards and apply the antibiotic ointment. Avoid carrying most things in your home besides your baby of course, and any vigorous exercises until an approval from the doctor has been given.
Also, something to ask your doctor after having done the C-section is, whether it’s better to cover the wound or leave it open to air out. This will be done after the new mother’s doctor has inspected the wound.
If asked what is the thing new mothers need most during their confinement, everybody’s answer will be different things. To make everybody’s lives a lot easier, here is a list of what is mentioned most often. New mother’s during their confinement period could do with several pairs of socks (especially those fuzzy and comfy ones!), thick blankets and COMFY disposable underwear!
Be sure to keep lanolin cream on your bedside table as your nipples will be sore and cracked from breastfeeding. The main goal here is to keep the new mother as comfortable and accessible during the confinement period. Something that would be an ultimate comfy care thing is having either warm oil or lotions within arms reach to apply onto the body when the mother feels cold. This will not only make you feel like you’re in a spa, but it will help you tremendously!
Don’t push yourself
Remember not to force anything! Resting and strengthening your body is what is important during this confinement period. Eating plenty of foods that are rich in fiber and also herbs that will help with your body’s recovery. The new mother’s first postpartum bowel movements may take some time, but remember not to force things. Also avoid straining the body after giving birth as it’s not good for any perineal tears or C-section scars to heal.
Once the new mother is feeling more comfortable (remember not to force anything!), she should be able to get started with some postpartum Kegel exercises slowly. This helps resolve any postpartum urinary incontinence and it also helps to get your vagina back in shape if you’ve decided to opt for a natural birth!
Women that are experiencing achy breasts, should try using a warm compress or ice pack over them. A soft and gentle massage would be helpful in easing up the soreness felt too. Also be sure to wear a comfortable nursing bra. When breastfeeding, ensure the new mother is airing their breasts out after every nursing session and be sure to also apply lanolin cream to prevent and treat cracked nipples.
Stay up to date with Doctor appointments
This might be stating the obvious but, checking in with your doctor is essential as it not only reconfirms everything is healing as expected but it also provides the parents with a piece of mind. The new mother’s OBGYN can also provide the new mother with advice on how to adjust to being a new mum with how she’s doing emotionally.
If a C-section was done instead of a natural birth, be sure to schedule in an appointment for the stitches to be removed. Leaving the stitches in for too long can sometimes make the scars look worse. Also, if the new mother is experiencing any symptoms that might be concerning, inform the doctor as they wouldn’t know what is going on unless you tell them. Symptoms such as pain or tenderness around the incision or fever can sometimes call for concern.
Of course there are so many other things that a new mother should prepare for during her confinement period but these are some tips on how to prepare for it. Most importantly for the new mother should be eating well to ease any fatigue and also to combat constipation. Instead of eating 3 larger meals like normal, eat 5 smaller meals throughout the day. A combination of fiber from vegetables and fruits help prevent hemorrhoids and protein for energy to keep you going. We hope this article has helped you gain insight on some tips to prepare for your confinement period!