A mother said to me today that her favourite line in Well Adjusted Babies was when I was discussing uterine massage for after the birth, “that it may be important if your partner is helping to clarify for them that this is not some new form of foreplay. In case he momentarliy forgets, remind him that you recently had something the size of a frozen chook pass through your womanhood!”
This Mum was referring to “Post Birth ABC’s” Chapter, here’s the A section for you:
– Abandon any fantasy you may have that you will be able to hold coherent or adult-like conversations. Pre-warn your friends or colleagues that your brain is currently just like your abdominals—all soft and squishy, and unable to solve a world crisis.
– Abort any preconceived ideas that you will run on time for anything! Allow yourself and your newborn an extra hour’s grace to get out the door.
– Attempt to sleep as often and as much as you can. When friends offer to help, ask them to come over and mind any other children you may have or the baby, while you have a bath or catch an extra hour of sleep. Believe me, the world is a much brighter place when we sneak a little extra sleep. Switch on the answering machine or take the phone off the hook when the baby is asleep and grab a nap yourself.
– Appetite: Fill the house with plenty of healthy foods and snacks. Have a bowl of pre-cut organic raw veggies ready to nibble on in the fridge, and plenty of fresh and dried (sulphur dioxide free) fruit available. Stack the pantry with nuts, crackers and high quality health bars. Have your partner cook up some soup every few days that is easy to re-heat. Cook larger amounts of evening meals and enjoy the excess for lunch the following day.
– Afterpains play an important role in the body’s healing and repair work. They are however, God awful! You won’t usually have strong afterpains following the birth of your first baby. If this is your second however, don’t be surprised if the pain is intense.
Unfortunately, afterpains intensify with each birth and/or the closer together your birth dates. Afterpains usually stop after 4–5 days. Generally afterpains occur as you breastfeed or just after, as the baby’s suckling stimulates your uterus. This is because the hormone oxytocin (which is responsible for triggering the milk let-down reflex) also creates uterine contractions.
Holding a hot water bottle against your tummy 20 minutes prior to a feed may help alleviate pain. Personally, I found uterine massage very effective, both for pain relief and assisting my uterus to shrink back in size quickly. Here I refer to gentle self massage, using a flat hand that gently moves in long sweeping motions from the belly button down towards the pubic hair. The quicker the uterus contracts back to its original size, the lesser likelihood of prolonged post- delivery bleeding (the things you learn after five births!).
When you finish feeding, lie down. Position a flat hand across your belly button. Using straight fingers, gently massage with long sweeping motions from your belly button down towards you pubic bone. Repeat this motion for 1–2 minutes.
NOTE: If your partner is helping you with the massage, clarify for them that this is not some new form of foreplay (in case he momentarily forgets). Remind him, if necessary, that you recently had something the size of a frozen chook pass through your womanhood!
– Amorous intentions (a lack of nooky). Remind your partner that while you love him/her dearly, there is a secret pact amongst birthing mothers that sex is a no-no for at least 12 weeks; it may be sooner than this but put him off the scent entirely.
For some women it is a longer period of time before they feel amorous and this is perfectly fine. Talk to your partner and express your emotions bravely. You needn’t worry about your loss of libido in the short term—it is natural and hardly surprising when you are so exhausted and uncomfortable!
It’s vital to still spend some time alone with your partner on a regular basis and, since life is a lot less spontaneous when a baby arrives, it’s definitely worth planning ahead. You don’t have to arrange a whole weekend—going for a long walk or just out for a quick drink will do. Ask a relative or friend to give up a few hours to baby-sit and you will feel infinitely more energised—as will your relationship.
— The first time almost certainly won’t be wonderful and scar tissue may cause discomfort.
— Don’t think that because you are breastfeeding you won’t become pregnant
— Ovulation can still occur and lead to pregnancy… so consider your contraception.
For additional ABC’s for the Post Birth Period please see Well Adjusted babies 2nd Edition….
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Yours in health…
Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani