Postpartum advice to think twice about
There is a load of information on postpartum care and recovery available both on- and offline these days. And while we are very happy to see the rising interest and awareness on the important issues of diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction and postpartum depression, the volume of information can sometimes make it difficult to separate good advice from the not-so-good. Here is a list of commonly recommended solutions which we would think twice about before using. This does not mean that the solutions discussed below will not work for anyone, but that not everyone will benefit and some may even experience more harm than good when going with these trends.
Wearing postpartum girdle
Postpartum girdles, also referred to as postpartum abdominal binders or corsets, are everywhere in the media these days. Many bloggers, celebrities, and just regular women next door seem to use them in their postpartum recovery. However, the fact that they are so widely used does not make one an ideal option for any woman. Of course, if a girdle has been recommended to you by your healthcare professional, in order to aid in C-section recovery or for another reason, go ahead and use it. But, if you are just looking to regain your waistline a little sooner the gridle may not be the best option for you. While it does help you attain a hourglass shape when worn, it also takes the work away from your core muscles, leaving them weaker and deconditioned. Another issue with using an abdominal binder is the fact that it increases your intraabdominal pressure, causing extra strain on your already traumatized pelvic floor muscles. So, the temporary visual effect of a slim waist, achieved with the postpartum gridle, may contribute to slower diastasis recti healing and more pelvic floor dysfunction down the road.
Starting Kegels early
Another widespread piece of advice for new moms is to start doing Kegel exercises as early as possible, in order to regain pelvic floor tone. However, it is important that you consider your individual situation before starting the exercises. It is very possible, especially with a vaginal birth and perineal tears and/or episiotomy, that your pelvic floor muscles need some time to heal prior to starting the training. If you start Kegels too early, or do them incorrectly by not focusing on both contraction and relaxation, you may end up with overly tight pelvic floor muscles, which can not be stretched and can not slide over one another smoothly. All of that can lead to chronic pelvic pain, sexual intercourse or urinary problems.
Using leave-on nipple balm
It’s a fact that your nipples are going to be very sore when you are trying to establish breastfeeding. Soothing nipple balm can do wonders for this situation and you will likely be tempted to use a leave on variety, in order to minimize the number of manipulations this body area goes through. While not a bad idea as such, many leave on nipple balms contain ingredients that are not ideal for baby to ingest. One of the most common nipple balm ingredients is lanolin, which is made from sheep sebum and can contain pesticide residue from the substances being sprayed on sheeps’ coats to treat mites and pests. Lanolin-free nipple balms usually contain beeswax, which can be a very beneficial skin care ingredient. Unfortunately, beeswax can also potentially harbor the spores of a bacteria known as clostridium botulini. These spores are not dangerous for adults, but can make children very sick; in fact these spores are the reason infants under 1 year of age are recommended against the consumption of honey. We suggest you opt for a balm without lanolin and beeswax. Some alternative options that are available on the market now use plant waxes such as carnauba wax.
Starting to pump early
It may be tempting to start pumping early in order to increase your milk supply and build a back-up milk bank in your freezer. On the other hand, the first few weeks are a crucial time when your body and your baby are getting in tune with each other, and your breasts are learning to provide the amount of milk your baby needs. Combining pumping and breastfeeding during that time may lead to milk oversupply which, in turn, can cause clogged ducts, lactostasis, and even mastitis. So, unless you have a special situation, such as a NICU baby or a baby unable to feed from the breast, we suggest you start pumping no earlier than 4-6 weeks postpartum. There will be plenty of time to build you milk bank!
Avoiding any physical activity
In some more traditional cultures it is recommended that a woman avoids any physical activity for a certain amount of time after giving birth. It is believed that a new mother should stay in bed for the first month after delivering a baby, avoiding such activities as cooking, cleaning, taking care of the baby, or even showering. While we wholeheartedly believe, that no amount of help and support is too much for new mom, prolonged periods of inactivity may actually delay your healing, and could lead to other dangerous conditions such as blood clots. We suggest you try to achieve a middle ground here by taking as much rest as you need, but also trying to move around and do light activity, such as slow walking, when you feel up to it. It goes without saying that we do not recommend avoiding showers.