Some compare giving birth to running a marathon, while others say it’s like pushing out a watermelon. Whatever your take on it, one thing is for certain: it’s just plain exhausting.
Having a baby has a huge impact on you, both physically and emotionally, and your body needs some serious TLC afterwards.
Which can be tricky with the whole not-sleeping-or-functioning-and-trying-to-look- after-a-newborn thing...
Soothing your body after birth isn’t just about recovering from perineal pain and soreness, or waiting for your C-section scar to heal.
It’s about lots of other little things: soothing irritated skin with a calming cream, soaking in a herbal bath, finding a volumising shampoo to make tired hair (that’s also shedding postpartum) look fuller and thicker.
Here are some easy ways to soothe your body after birth (and yes, snuggling on the sofa, or in bed, with the little one as much as possible in the early days is encouraged!).
stevecoleimages via Getty Images
Natural mamas swear by soaking in herbs to speed up the body's healing processes. Well, anything that gives you a chance to relax - if only for 15 minutes - is hugely important, especially in those early days post-birth, when hormones are going haywire and you're putting your newborn's needs ahead of your own. A quarter of a cup of Epsom salts, teamed with a tablespoon of baking soda and a few drops of lavender essential oil are an inviting combination to help ease muscle pain and relieve inflammation. Soaking in a warm bath
is also recommended for new mums suffering from blocked ducts or mastitis as a result of breastfeeding.*
chengyuzheng via Getty Images
Breastfeeding can be wonderful. It can also be painful, tricky to master and bring with it a myriad of potential ailments that you never would have imagined (engorgement, cracked nipples, blocked ducts and mastitis, just to name a few). If breasts are feeling sore or uncomfortable - whether from engorgement as your milk comes in or because you have an infection - cold, raw cabbage leaves can be a soothing relief, as recommended by British breastfeeding organisation La Leche
Just keep a cabbage or two in the freezer for when you need them. Bonus: you can wear the leaves hidden inside your bra all day. Unfortunately, you will smell like a rotten salad - but it's a small price to pay for the relief you'll feel. Use only until swelling goes down as long-term use may reduce milk supply.
J Shepherd via Getty Images
Camomile tea is known for its calming, anti-inflammatory properties, according to researchers, including a 2010 study published in Molecular Medicine Reports
*** and it is also thought to help promote restful sleep - essential when you're in the broken newborn sleep stage and need to make the most of any ZZZs that you do catch. Another interesting use for camomile? Researchers
have found that camomile tea can even help to soothe a colicky baby.****
Cecile Lavabre via Getty Images
Hormonal fluctuations can wreak havoc on a new mother's skin - in pregnancy and beyond, according to the NHS
+. Moles may darken, you can sunburn more easily and you may find that your skin is more sensitive, itchy
and more easily irritated by products you comfortably used pre-baby.++
If you are one of the women suffering from eczema or dry skin who found that your condition worsened post-birth, then add a hydrating, fragrance-free cream and shower gel to your routine, like the emollients from Oilatum, including Fragrance-Free Shower Gel and Oilatum Cream, which are designed to treat dry skin conditions and rehydrate sensitive skin.
While there are countless creams, oils and potions claiming to 'magic' away post-birth stretch marks, take it all with a pinch of salt. While stretch marks do fade, they don't ever disappear completely
However, if you're looking to minimise them, coconut oil is a favourite among Earth Mamas. Keep it around the house and it can also help to soothe sore or cracked nipples (from breastfeeding).
* Mastitis - Treatment via NHS Choices
** Engorged Breasts - Avoiding and Treating via La Leche League GB
*** Camomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future via Molecular Medicine Reports
**** Effects of the herbal formulation ColiMil on upper gastrointestinal transit in mice in vivo via Phytotherapy Research
+ Common pregnancy problems - Skin and hair changes in pregnancy via NHS Choices
++ Itching and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy via NHS Choices
+++ Stretch marks via NHS Choices
Products mentioned - Oilatum Cream and Oilatum Shower Gel Fragrance-Free (light liquid paraffin), are medicines for eczema and related dry skin conditions. Always read the label.