Mothers are pressured to be back on their feet, both literally and figuratively, as soon as they deliver their babies – and we have the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge as proof. But it may not be as advisable as it seems considering that mothers have experienced significant physical and mental changes from their pregnancy and delivery!
Doctors suggest mothers take it easier than usual during their post-partum period, which spans the time from your delivery to the time your body has returned to its nearly pre-pregnant state. This lasts between six and eight weeks, and it’s a great time for new mothers to recover from the physical and mental stress of the past nine months or so.
Prop Yourself Up
Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a study about the way new mothers breathed during a 48-hour period after delivery, particularly the size of the airway and their airflow in three positions – fully seated, at a 45-degree angle, and lying down. Their finding: The diameter of the upper respiratory tract increases as a new mother moves from lying flat to a 45-degree angle. This means that at a 45-degree angle, a new mother’s quality of breathing improves.
Lifting your upper body while resting and sleeping will likely be the solution you have been looking for where better post-delivery rest and sleep is concerned. This tip will be particularly useful if you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a medical condition that can become problematic from pregnancy to the post-pregnancy period.
OSA can happen in pregnant women and new mothers because of the inhibitory effect of hormones on the airway muscles, as well as the increase in abdominal volume resulting in extra pressure on the airway. OSA, furthermore, can lead to insomnia and fatigue! This is because an affected person tends to wake up several times during the night or have trouble falling asleep due to the breathing issues.
To elevate your upper body, use two medium-firm pillows neatly stacked on top of each other on your Sleepwell bed and against the headboard. Keep in mind that the pillows should be positioned under your shoulder blades and chest, which will elevate not just your head but your entire upper body. Sleep in this manner for at least three days after delivery and your life as a new mother ought to be better for it.
Rest As Much as You Can
Many new mothers like to get as much done as possible, even get back to their normal routine a couple of days after delivery. But remember that newborns have a different time clock than their parents, and it can be a source of sleep deprivation and frustration for them! Mothers can become quickly overwhelmed by the demands on their mind and body from their babies, husbands and other children.
But you can take better control by keeping these tips in mind:
- Delegate your household responsibilities to your family members – or hire a temporary household worker, if possible. Your responsibilities should only be limited to taking care of yourself, especially in terms of hygiene, and feeding your baby.
- Place your baby’s crib in your bedroom, if possible, so that you don’t have to walk back and forth for feedings at night. You can transfer your baby to his or her nursery when he has a more regular sleep schedule.
- Sleep when your baby is also sleeping. The couple of hours that your baby sleeps between feedings is great for catching up on your sleep lost during the nighttime feedings.
- Take the time your baby sleeps to take care of yourself. You can take a relaxing bath, eat a healthy meal or munch on a filling snack, and just lounge.
- Avoid watching television and checking your electronic devices, especially at night, since these can be detrimental to your sleeping patterns. You may want to focus on your baby at this point since there will be enough time to catch up with social media, movies and the news later on.
- Excuse yourself from entertaining visiting family and friends so you can take a nap or take care of yourself. You aren’t obligated to entertain them anyway, especially the people who understand your situation.
- Add milk formula in a bottle to supplement your breastfeeding sessions during nighttime feedings, if you want, after a few weeks. You can then allow your partner or nanny to feed your baby, and your rest periods will be longer for it.
Be sure to perform light exercises, too, a couple of weeks after your delivery. You can begin by walking, stretching and performing calisthenics for 15-30 minutes each day.
While it’s tempting to plunge into a post-pregnancy exercise program like the ones promoted by Hollywood personalities, you should remember that your body is unique. Listen to what your body tells you, whether it’s ready for heavier exercises or not, and then take your cue.