There is no denying the importance of prenatal care for both a mother and baby. Over the course of their pregnancy, women are diligent in caring for their bodies and their health to ensure a healthy baby and successful birth. So much attention and care gets put into preparing for what you will need during delivery and what your baby will need once they come home.
However, new mothers should also prepare for their homecoming as well. Your self-care remains equally as important during your postpartum recovery as it was throughout your pregnancy. At Pear Compression, we are committed to helping women feel their best while pregnant and supporting them through their postpartum recovery.
We want you to know what to expect after you deliver your baby and how you can help your postpartum body heal quickly and comfortably.
While you shouldn’t expect unmanageable pain after your delivery, you can expect to feel soreness and discomfort following any type of delivery. Whether you are dealing with a surgical recovery following a cesarean delivery or bruising and tearing from a vaginal birth, postpartum soreness can be uncomfortable and make it difficult to relax and rest appropriately during this time.
Managing your discomfort and soreness can help reduce swelling and accelerate your healing process.
If your doctor has sent you home with a prescription, make sure you are taking your pain medication as prescribed.
However, in most cases, over the counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are all you need to reduce any pain or soreness you may experience after your delivery. Make sure to take them as recommended and consult with your doctor about which type will be best for you.
You will want to have plenty of ice packs and cold compresses around for the days after you return home from the hospital. Ice helps to treat the pain and swelling that is common after a vaginal delivery.
Some women find that soaking maxi pads in water and freezing them is a convenient way to create an ice pack that can easily fit and provide relief to the areas around the vagina. Ice packs are also a good way to treat the swelling and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids.
It is very common for women to experience hemorrhoids both during and after their pregnancy. They can be quite uncomfortable and even painful. Making sure you treat them properly can help them heal faster, prevent them from returning, and prevent infection and thrombosis.
There are a few ways to treat your postpartum hemorrhoids at home to provide relief and help them heal:
- Keep the area clean: Using a squirt bottle with warm water works well in addition to over-the-counter hemorrhoid wet wipes.
- Treat constipation: Constipation is common post labor and is the cause of some cases of postpartum hemorrhoids. Taking stool softeners and increasing fiber in your diet can help treat constipation as well as pain when using the bathroom.
- Ointments and suppositories: These over-the-counter treatments can help reduce swelling, pain, and itching associated with hemorrhoids. However, if you had any vaginal tearing or an episiotomy, make sure to check with your doctor before using them.
- Lie down or use a donut: Try and take as much pressure as you can off the area. Lie down as much as you can. Inflatable donuts are designed to help alleviate pressure when sitting on a hard surface.
Many new mothers are surprised at the extent of postpartum swelling they experience in the days and sometimes weeks after giving birth. Both vaginal and cesarean deliveries can result in excess swelling in your feet, ankles, legs, and face. Some women also experience swelling around their incision site after a C-section or their perineum after a vaginal birth.
Postpartum edema is very normal and very common. It can be the result of IV fluids given during your delivery, leftover pregnancy fluid, and hormonal changes. The American Pregnancy Association reports that on average, a woman’s body produces up to 50% more body fluid during their pregnancy to support their growing baby.
For some women, the swelling can cause their skin to become tight, making postpartum edema even more uncomfortable. There are a few ways you can treat your swelling feet after labor and reduce postpartum swelling to help your body release the buildup of fluids.Stay Cool
Your hormones are changing rapidly in the weeks following your delivery. As your body begins to reset your hormones from being pregnant to being postpartum, you may experience hot flashes as well as postpartum sweating.
Heat can intensify your swelling and add to the level of discomfort you are experiencing. Make sure you have fans or air conditioning available to keep yourself cool and comfortable during this time. Cold compresses and ice packs can also be beneficial in regulating your body temperature.
Wearing lightweight and loose clothing can also help prevent your body from overheating. Breathable, natural fabrics like cotton and linen allow your body to breathe and air to flow through.Dietary Changes
Another way to combat postpartum edema is to be mindful of your diet. This includes avoiding certain foods and increasing your intake of others to help your body eliminate excess fluids and not retain more.
Making sure you are well hydrated and eating healthy food is imperative for the body’s recovery and to help you make sure you have the strength and energy to care for yourself and your new baby.
During your postpartum recovery, you will want to avoid salt and sodium-rich foods. Diets high in sodium lead to water retention and inflammation can make your postpartum swelling worse. Limiting the amount of caffeine in your diet will help prevent dehydration. While it may sound counterintuitive, your body responds to dehydration by storing and retaining more fluids.
Increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods will naturally lower the levels of sodium in your body and in doing so, will prompt your body to start releasing excess fluid retention. Some foods that are high in potassium include:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Coconut Water
Watermelon and coconut water are not only high in potassium, but they are also wonderfully proficient ways of adding extra hydration, helping your body flush out those fluids naturally.Compression Socks
One of the best ways to treat swelling in your legs and swollen feet after pregnancy is by using high-quality postpartum socks. A study in 2017 found that wearing compression socks in the 24 hours after delivery can help to reduce postpartum edema.
Graduated compression therapy helps to increase the blood flow in your lower extremities and move the fluids up into your kidneys, making it easier for your body to eliminate them naturally. The use of compression socks during your postpartum recovery also helps to prevent blood clots and circulatory issues from developing while you are resting and recovering and keep your feet and legs feeling energized.
Because postpartum edema is generally localized to your legs and feet, wearing postpartum socks during the day will help your body properly process the excess fluid and alleviate the discomfort caused by the swelling. Compression socks can also reduce the discomfort caused by varicose veins and by increasing the circulation and blood flow, can prevent them from spreading or getting worse.
Pear compression socks are your new best friend during your postpartum recovery. Our seamless socks are easy to pull on and off, and comfortable enough to wear all day. Our seamless 360-degree technology and graduated compression reduce swelling, improve circulation, and increase energy for gentle yet effective support.
Postpartum edema is generally worse at night and exasperated by the heat. Wearing compression socks during the day can reduce the severity of your swelling at night.
Compression therapy is as important to your postpartum recovery as it is a part of your prenatal health.Be Patient
Postpartum recovery takes time. Remember to be kind to yourself. Make sure to get plenty of rest and nourishment as you settle into your new role as a mother.
Ask for help when you need it and be sure to reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about your postpartum recovery or experience. At Pear Compression, our mission is to help women feel their best during their entire pregnancy and postpartum journey, one Pear at a time.