Postpartum recovery

The recent Maternal Care Report revealed that 42 per cent of women reported feeling that their safety during the recovery period was put at risk. We caught up with pre and postnatal health expert Mari-Carmen for the best practices for a safe postpartum recovery

Welcoming a new baby into the world is a joyous time in a woman’s life, but pregnancy and childbirth bring physical and emotional changes to the mother that can feel overwhelming or difficult. Recognising these changes is the first step on the road to a healthy postpartum recovery.

Remember, every pregnancy and postpartum experience is unique. Don’t get discouraged by comparing yourself to others. What worked for a friend or relative may not be the best approach for you. Focus on your journey and prioritise self-compassion, patience and kindness.

As a pre and postnatal women’s health expert and mother-of-three, I’ve compiled some of my top tips for postpartum recovery:

1. Rest when you can

Sleep is tricky in those early newborn days but try to sleep at every opportunity. Sleep is an important component of the recovery process. When your baby falls asleep, prioritise resting yourself, even if it’s just a short nap.

These ‘nap chains’ can significantly improve daytime alertness and overall well-being. Don’t hesitate to seek help from your partner, family members or close friends. Sharing night-time feeding duties or allowing others to care for the baby while you nap can be invaluable.

2. Maintain a balanced diet

Prioritising a healthy diet packed with whole foods fuels your body for optimal recovery and caring for your newborn. Fill your plate with colourful fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources like chicken or fish, and fibre-rich whole grains. These choices not only support your healing but also indirectly support your baby if you are breastfeeding.

Ensuring your diet is full of fibre will help with bowel movements as well as healing digestive health, particularly after a c-section. Constipation is a common issue post-birth, but straining during bowel movements can put extra pressure on the pelvis and trauma to that area which can lead to possible tears and an episiotomy wound.

If you have time before your baby is born, batch cook hearty stews or soups. This will create easy access to healthy meals during those busy first weeks. Don’t hesitate to accept help with meal prep from loved ones too.

3. Address pain and discomfort

The postpartum period is a time of immense change and it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Resist the urge to be a superhero – your body is healing and you deserve to prioritise rest and comfort.

Don’t hesitate to utilise the pain medication prescribed by your midwife or healthcare provider. These medications are specifically chosen to address the discomfort you may experience after delivery and taking them as directed will allow you to focus on bonding with your newborn and getting the rest you need.

4. Prioritise mental health

The journey of postpartum recovery extends far beyond physical healing. The hormonal fluctuations that occur immediately following delivery can significantly impact your mood. You might experience feelings of anxiety, sadness, or overwhelm – these are all common reactions to the dramatic hormonal shifts and the immense emotional adjustments that come with parenthood.

If these emotions persist, remember – you are not alone. Seek support from your healthcare provider who can offer guidance and explore treatment options if necessary. There are also fantastic resources available within the maternal mental health community. Consider connecting with online support groups like FIT MAMA or reaching out to organisations like Pandas, a charity dedicated to supporting families affected by perinatal mental illness.

5. Focus on pelvic health

When you feel comfortable, you can incorporate pelvic floor exercises and deep breathing into your routine. These exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can be weakened by childbirth, and improve Diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles.

A simple pelvic floor exercise involves tightening the muscles around your urethra (like stopping urine flow) and vagina, holding for a few seconds, then relaxing. Repeat this sequence 10 times, aiming for several sets throughout the day.

Mari-Carmen is an ex-PICU nurse turned women’s health and fitness expert. She’s since developed the FIT MAMA app, specifically designed to give women clear and consistent information about their health and wellbeing. Visit