“Congratulations” – you have an upgrade in your designation from a loving wife to an unconditionally loving mother for your baby. Can anyone gauge how the journey was?BIRTHING is a challenging experience to every woman – I am sure every woman will agree with me on this hard-core fact. The pains undergone, the bleeding accompanied after birthing, the tiredness, exhaustion as by-products after the “end product” (the bundle of joy) is out of its shell have adjectives of all kinds for description. It is difficult to strongly define RECOVERY FROM Birthing primarily due to the varied experiences amongst different women during birthing. Threshold to withstand pain is one of the factors that can be considered in explaining this topic. I feel it is just not BIRTHING, it is BIRTHING AND BEYOND!!! This was indeed Cloudnine‘s tag line a few years ago!The BEYOND can be a little scary to think of, if there were complications associated during labour or while birthing. Here are a few instances:
- For various reasons, if there is non-progress of labour after a particular stage, it involves an admixture of labour pain and pain after the Caesarean birth – the duo can seem as trio!
- If there is a TEAR involved – such as Perineal tear, Cervical / Anal / Rectal tear involved, then the recovery involves time
- If there are co-morbid conditions such as Gestational increase in sugars or blood pressure or at times a sordid combination of both, then once again the element of time factor for the corresponding levels to touch normalcy need to be accounted for along with recovery happening in parallel
- For medical reasons, if there is necessity to admit a new born into the Neonatal Isolation Care Unit or the N-ICU, then, the sequential progress of the baby graduating out of the N-ICU and moving into the mother’s arms, is a pressing factor and many a times depending on the intensity of complication involved in the chances of survival of the baby, it can be one of the key deciding factors, for the woman’s physical level of recovery.
What do we mean by recovery from birthing?Recovery essentially involves the pace with which a mother’s body is able to bounce back into pre-pregnancy shape and form with special reference to the re-establishment of an appreciable nutritional status, given the loss of blood after a baby’s birth and the sweeping changes that happened through the three trimesters.Involution of the Uterus to its pre-pregnancy size and shape itself can involve anywhere between 6 to 8 weeks on an average. Healthy sleep and good rest will actually help to quite an extent giving a strong push to the adequacy in nutritional support. Good sleep for seven to eight hours at one stretch can be almost a Utopian dream at that juncture but as the baby grows, the trend is bound to change giving scope for a few more hours of regular/ structured sleep.Hence in the first few weeks after a baby is born, it is better to sneak some rest whenever the baby is also sleeping. This can be one of the potential ways of averting physical stress. Light exercises by way of walking is ideal to adopt for better digestion, improvement in blood circulation, avoidance of gassy tendencies and also for aiding the involution of the Uterus.Nutritional support of the right sorts can really boost the pace of recovery and also gradually help in revamping the immunity to a better state.SPECIFIC NUTRIENTS FOR RECOVERY:
- WATER: With ample hydration, not only is breastfeeding made easier, it gives a wide scope for preventing UTI’s, Constipation, better absorption of nutrients and avoidance of giddiness, excessive tiredness, headaches. Therefore, right from water to soups to buttermilk to lentil water to juices, it is a “go” to the point of accommodating 4 Litres of liquids a day.
- CALORIC ADEQUACY: Irrespective of Rice or Chapathi or Broken Wheat, Carbohydrates need to be given their due place in a lactating mother’s diet. Primarily because Carbs are energy givers and furnish the body with reserves for multiple functions apart from maintaining optimal breast milk output. Carbs occupy the major chunk of the three major meals.
- Fats by way of milk fat (as in fresh milk, fresh Curds), safflower oil / rice-bran oil / any other cooking oil, Saturated fat in the form of butter / ghee, nuts – tree nuts help in the recovery phase – Fats are important for the absorption of fat-soluble Vitamins – Vitamin A, D, E & K – which play leading roles in enhancing the immune status of the body. Hence as a part of the birthing recovery protocol, healthy fats are necessary.
- Proteins – Toor, Moong/Masoor Dals, Green gram – whole, chick peas, egg whites, milk products such as Cheese , Panneer or even Fish, leg soups could be helpful in filling-in Protein for overhauling of the mother’s body after her baby’s birth.
- VITAMINS AND MINERALS: a vast topic though… Dietary Iron from Green leafy vegetables, dry fruits such as Raisins – black / brown, Figs, dates, Rice flakes, add quality Iron to the diet and this when taken as a combination with Vitamin C (from Citrus fruits, Indian gooseberry / Tomatoes / Mint leaves) elicit a good response in the form of replenishing the hemoglobin in a couple of weeks after a baby is born.
- Food items such as Carrots, Beetroot, Pomegranate, Curry leaves when justified can help in the overall recovery.
- SUPPLEMENTS; Of Iron and Calcium also need to be continued for a few months into breastfeeding majorly we need to pay attention to the losses that occur / have occurred and then compensate for them.
- CALCIUM: Milk and Milk products being good sources of Calcium need to be justified in a lactating mother’s diet since it helps in breastfeeding and also for replenishing the Calcium stores in the breastfeeding mother.
- An intensified nutritional support by including protein powders, daily intake of nuts, Iron rich foods is strongly favoured in case of Post-Partum Haemorrhage as a part of difficult labour.
- Other special considerations may be taken up as per Obstetrician’s orders and may require regular follow-ups to track the progress.
RECOVERY FROM BIRTHING is a net result of exercising will-power in following the basic tenets of healthy eating instead of following snippets from various sources. A speedy/faster recovery will help you enjoy your “fresh motherhood moments” in a healthy and blissful state!