A new lactating parent has many new stressors placed on her as she navigates her new role postpartum. The last thing she wants to deal with is illness – let alone illness associated with caring for her child.
Often, postpartum recovery isn’t talked about. Once the baby is put in their arms, many of the other complaints and struggles become secondary. However, a woman has just undergone one of the most physically grueling experiences in her life.
Perineum Pain: If the mother gave birth vaginally, she could be recovering from tearing or an episiotomy. This recovery and the perineum pain and care can be challenging.
There is a special protocol that new mothers learn in the hospital to properly care for this area, and is required every time they go to the restroom. It takes about three weeks for your body to recover from an episiotomy.
C-Section Recovery: This is a major surgery that cuts through multiple layers of muscle and the uterus to ensure the safe arrival of the baby. Women also tend to be awake during this intense surgery and can feel the pressure during the process.
Women are given only 2-4 days in the hospital to recover, and then expected to go home, care for themselves, and care for a new infant. There can also be many complications including bleeding at the incision point and infection.
Additional Postpartum Recovery: Additional discomfort that a postpartum mother experiences includes the shrinking of her uterus. This process can be painful, and women are often given medication to help manage this experience. Other common experiences include vaginal discharge and bleeding, lasting several weeks after birth.
Recovery from birth typically lasts 6 to 8 weeks, but for the body to fully recover from the pregnancy, it is recommended to allow at least 18 months. It is suggested that new mothers take it slow during this time and ask for help from their loved ones.
Common Ailments of Breastfeeding Parents
While a woman is recovering from postpartum, she is typically learning how to breastfeed. For many, this can be a grueling process. With cracked nipples, breast engorgement, tongue tie, and thrush, many lactating parents can feel discouraged by these common breastfeeding problems.
If these problems weren’t challenging enough, many breastfeeding mothers experience flu-like symptoms, associated with breastfeeding, like breast engorgement and clogged milk ducts. This is typically a sign of mastitis.
By working with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), you can help mitigate these problems and decrease the symptoms of infection. An important component in this process is education, experience, and personalized lactation tips from a lactation expert.
An IBCLC has the proper training and knows some of the best methods to treat the symptoms of mastitis and help mothers reach their personalized breastfeeding goals.
From providing tips on drinking sufficient water to massaging the breast to applying warm compresses and cabbage leaves, an IBCLC knows it all and works with you to help you breastfeed your baby with what works best for you. Of course, some cases can progress to the point that antibiotics are needed, and a lactation consultant will be able to help understand your body’s limits and needs in such situations.
If you are experiencing problems related to birth and looking for added support in your new role, reach out to your OGBYN. Often, they have tools to help provide you with both physical and mental health support. Additionally, reach out to close friends and family to help support you as a new lactating parent during this overwhelming time, we call postpartum.
Additional support can come from scheduling an appointment with an IBCLC for lactation support and in-person or telehealth consultations for personalized post-partum care for you and your baby. This added support could be just what you need to overcome some of your breastfeeding obstacles and make your breastfeeding journey more enjoyable and special.