How to help your body recover from childbirth

A guide to caring for yourself after delivery.

Looking after yourself is just as important as looking after your new baby. With confinement practiced by Chinese, Malays and Indians, most Singaporean mums understand that special care is needed to help themselves heal and recuperate after childbirth. Whether you choose to observe confinement practices strictly, loosely or not at all, here is our guide to recovering from childbirth.

Sleep when your baby sleeps

Sufficient rest is a vital part of your recovery. Mums who get enough sleep are healthier and if you’re breastfeeding, lack of sleep can affect your milk production. You might be feeding your baby 7–8 times a day at first, which will make it hard for you to get 6–8 continuous hours of sleep, so sleep while your baby sleeps and try not to do more than eat, feed, sleep and shower in the first few weeks. Get as much help with cooking and cleaning as you can.

Eat well

Each confinement tradition has a list of different foods to avoid. Some of these restrictions don’t have any scientific basis but making sure you’re eating a balanced diet is important to your recovery. Your diet should consist of 5– 7 servings of whole grains, pasta, rice or cereal, 2 servings each of fruit and vegetables and 2–3 servings of meat and low-fat dairy so you have enough protein, iron and calcium. Eat lots of fibre to prevent constipation. Include more foods high in antioxidants like fruits, veggies, nuts and beans. Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, like salmon, nuts and seeds, help with inflammation and fluid retention and strengthen your immune system. You might also want to reduce the amount of sugar and white flour in your diet to help even out mood swings and take off your post-baby weight.

Stay hydrated

Some new mums are told not to drink water during the confinement period as it leads to water retention. But it’s actually important to drink 8–10 glasses of water a day if you’re breastfeeding. You need to stay hydrated to help your milk production.

Pay attention to your posture

Pregnancy and motherhood can be hard on your back and many new mums have neck, shoulder and back pains. Most of these problems are caused by bad posture so be mindful of how you sit, stand and lift your baby. Use a pillow when you’re breastfeeding so that you can sit upright and not hunch over. Take 5-minute stretch breaks throughout the day to ease neck, shoulder and back pains.

Get a massage

Post-natal massage by a certified and experienced therapist can be very beneficial to new mums. It can help the uterus to contract and shrink to its pre-pregnancy size, alleviate fluid retention and relieve aches and soreness. Improper technique can increase bleeding so make sure your therapist is properly qualified. If you’ve have a caesarean section, you should wait 2 months for your wound to heal and get the okay from your doctor before having any massage.