Pregnancy and birth should be an exciting time, but it can also leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
As well as the emotional impact, there are many physical changes that you will need to adapt to. Many women find that the first few weeks after birth are uncomfortable, especially if they are experiencing incontinence.
Incontinence can be difficult to manage, but with multiple incontinence products suitable for use after pregnancy, managing it on a day-to-day basis is a little easier.
You need to take care of yourself, as well as your newborn, so how can you look after your body post-pregnancy and birth?
#1 Rest and repair…
Your body is an amazing piece of machinery. It produces hormones to protect the growing foetus and when the baby is ready to be born, it sets off a chain of events that can only be marvelled at. Providing we listen to our bodies, we can heal quickly after birth.
The greatest factor in healing post-birth is rest. You may not feel tired in the first few days as you ride out a heap of hormones – you will feel on top of the world! However, you need to be kind to yourself. Rest when you can and when you can take a nap, do so.
Friends and family will be more than willing to help, so if they offer to vacuum, change the beds, clean the bath etc., let them and be grateful for all the help they are offering.
#2 … but stay active
Rest is number one on your list but this doesn’t mean hitting the sofa and not moving for weeks.
If you are worried about incontinence, or sometimes feel you don’t always make it to the toilet in time, you can do pelvic floor exercises to help your muscles heal.
Pelvic floor clench and release exercises should not hurt – if they do, please speak with your midwife, health visitor or doctor.
Perform around three sets a day of 10 repetitions each time. Clench your pelvic floor muscles, hold for a few seconds (30 at the most) and then release, making a conscious effort to relax the muscle.
Gentle exercise is also an important part of helping your body to heal and recover. Without over doing it, try to stay active;
- If the weather is kind, why not take a walk out, with your new baby well wrapped up?
- Don’t lift items that are too heavy – pushing and pulling places the abdomen under pressure
#3 Eat well and drink plenty
A healthy lifestyle is essential, and when it comes to helping your body to heal, healthy foods are essential.
If you are breastfeeding, you will need to consider that these flavours will be passed on to your baby in your milk. Heavily spiced foods may not be such a good idea...
Eat little and often, and the same goes for your fluid intake. If you are suffering from post-birth incontinence, you may be reluctant to drink more fluids, assuming this will make the problem worse.
In many cases, increasing fluid intake can help to improve incontinence. It can be a problem caused by an irritated bladder. By not drinking, your urine will be more concentrated and this irritates the bladder even more.
Rather than drinking a lot more in one go, aim to increase your drinking of fluids – water is best – throughout the day. You may find that as you breastfeed, you need to increase your fluid intake. Ask your health visitor or midwife how much more you should be drinking.
Avoid alcohol, which dehydrates you and can make incontinence worse. Caffeine can also be an irritant to your bladder so cut out or decrease your consumption of tea, coffee, hot chocolate and some soft drinks.
#4 Spread out meals and low carb snacks
Your night time sleep routine will not be the same and this disrupted sleep can make you feel hungry. Snacking on high sugar and high carb foods can make the problem of hunger worse.
Spread out your meals during the day and if you are snacking in between, opt for healthier snacks such as turkey and cheese, vegetables with guacamole dip or hard-boiled eggs.
With your meals, eat small but often, spacing out your calorie intake over the course of the day. Bear in mind that we can often mistake hunger for thirst so if you feel what you think is hunger, have a small glass of water and wait 10 minutes before you eat anything. You may find the feeling of hunger goes away.
The first days and weeks of being at home with your new born is exciting but daunting. Eat well, take plenty of rest and enjoy those first few precious days.
HARTMANN Direct are suppliers of incontinence products. With a range of quality products, there is a product for men and women, including a range of products suitable for post-birth incontinence.