We all take so much care of our bodies when we want to become pregnant and then even more so during our pregnancy as we miraculously grow our baby but once our baby is born it doesn't stop there. Have a read a read of some tips of my personal top 5 ways to protect your health for after your baby is born.
Use your arms to lift your baby to prevent Mummy Thumb
This might sound obvious but it is a common new mum mistake. I had no idea until I suffered with tendonitis for 6 months. I was using my hands and wrists to lift my baby up which is fine once or twice but when you’re doing this about 30 times a day and he is getting heavier and heavier – the strain you put on your tendons can cause inflammation. At first it was a slight niggle in my wrist that I ignored. It was only in certain angles and positions that it was painful but slowly the pain got worse and didn’t go away until one day the pain is so excruciating to the point I could no longer pick my baby up without pain wincing. I needed anti-inflammatories (prescribed by the doctor safe whilst breastfeeding) which only mildly relieved the pain. It was more for the anti-inflammatory effect that it was used. I wore a wrist splint that was not comfortable nor practical for a new mum to reduce movement and it also helped me change the way I was picking up my baby. With drugs and rest my wrist recovered but it took a long time. I learnt for my next baby and didn’t suffer it again.
Feed your baby with your back in mind
You can be spending about 10-12 hours a day feeding your new born baby. This is a long time to be sat in one position and definitely a strain on your back. It wasn’t until I spoke to mums who had babies already when I was complaining about how my back was hurting and how my 3 month old baby was really heavy (he was a small baby) that they made me realise it wasn’t my baby causing the back ache but the way I was breastfeeding. I was slouching, I didn’t support my back, I was bending over to my baby instead of bringing the baby to me and I didn’t alternate positions or stretch my back. After I made some small changes in my breastfeeding positions my back and shoulder ache got better. I made sure I sat with my back supported with cushions. I tried not to lean over my baby but brought the baby to my breasts. I found new breastfeeding positions – such as the side lying position, and breastfeeding with a sling - which not only saved my back but made life so much easier.
Pelvic floor exercises whilst breastfeeding
Imagine a horse on a small trampoline and you can liken that to a baby on our pelvic floor muscles and understand why they feel like they’ve been through the wars after birth. Your pelvic floor muscles are important as they support the womb, bladder, bowel and affects the vagina but during pregnancy they become overstretched and weak. My pelvic floor muscles became weak and I found I would sometimes leak a bit of wee - especially when I coughed or sneezed. Exercise can also cause a leak. It can also mean your bowel and womb isn’t as well supported and gives you a heavy, dragging sensation. It’s so hard to remember to do kegel (or pelvic floor) exercises when you’re busy with a baby but it’s so important not only during and after pregnancy but it’s a life long benefit. Kegel exercises can also help promote healing in your perineum by increasing blood circulation. I didn’t remember everyday but I tried to remember to do them during my commute to work when I was pregnant and after I had my baby I tried to do them when I was breastfeeding. Now I do them when I’m brushing my teeth.
Keeping your hands clean – don’t forget to moisturise
When you have a baby you become so much aware of keeping everything hygienic. You’ll be washing your hands much more often whether it’s washing those bottles, before feeding, changing nappies, cleaning vomit, spit, snot or the baby. After a little while your once delicate soft hands will become dry and cracked. It’s important to look after yourself as well as your baby. Remember to moisturise with something baby friendly such as coconut oil.
Keep well fed and hydrated
When you have a baby, particularly a newborn, you are more concerned about whether your baby is well fed, well rested, clean and happy, you soon forget about yourself. At the beginning, I often realised by late afternoon that I hadn’t peed all day and had barely eaten anything since breakfast. My mum brought me to my senses and told me that for me to look after my baby I needed to look after myself as well which meant eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water. I made it a habit that every time I was breastfeeding I would drink a glass of water. I made sure I ate regularly or at least had a snack every few hours if I didn’t have time to make a meal. I followed this and my milk supply as well as my energy levels improved. I would have a few chocolates for the extra calories or even as a pick me up, even had a box of chocolates for those night time feeds! I supplemented my diet with iron and Vitamin D tablets for myself and indirectly through my breastmilk, for my baby. Vitamin D is important for strong bones as it helps calcium absorption from our diet and unfortunately in England we do not produce enough vitamin