If you have suffered the loss of your baby or had a miscarriage, it is important that you take time to heal both physically and emotionally.
Your Physical Health
Here are tips how to take care of yourself physically after experiencing a loss:
To heal and nourish your body, eat balanced meals and drink plenty of water each day. Eat foods high in calcium (dark green leafy vegetables, yogurt, milk, etc.) and foods high in fiber (bran, broccoli, fruit) to help keep your bowel movements (poop) regular.
Sleep is healing. Good sleep habits and restful sleep are key when dealing with the emotional and physical stress of delivery and loss. Try to allow your body plenty of rest in the first week, particularly in the first 24 hours. If you find it difficult to sleep, try taking a warm shower or stretching before bed. A regular pre-bedtime routine will help prepare your body for rest.
Gradually increase your daily activities until you are back to your normal physical routine, and rest frequently. Avoid heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling for the first 2-4 weeks. If you have had a C- Section, do not lift more than 10 pounds for the first 6 weeks. Talk with your healthcare provider before returning to work.
Maintain Proper Hygiene
To avoid infection, be sure to shower at least once a day throughout the first week. Do not take baths, swim in pools or soak in hot tubs until your doctor says it is okay. You may continue to bleed for 3-6 weeks; use pads, not tampons. After the first week, bleeding should lighten until it is white or pale yellow in color.
It is important to change your pad often and keep this area clean. After using the restroom, use a peri-bottle filled with warm water to rinse your perineum (the area between the vagina and rectum). Always wipe from front to back to help prevent infection and dry thoroughly. Continue to do this until this area has healed. Your normal menstrual periods may return anywhere from 1-3 months after delivery.
Care of Cesarean Section Incision
If you have had a C-Section, you do not need to cover your incision. Try to keep this area as clean and dry as possible. To clean your incision, lightly wash with antibacterial soap, rinse with water, and gently dry with a clean towel. Do not put any lotions, perfumes, or powders around the area unless prescribed by your physician.
Your healthcare provider may advise you to wait 4-6 weeks, or until your bleeding has stopped, to have sex, use tampons, or douche. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions.
The birth of your baby stimulates hormones that tell your body to make milk. Milk becomes more abundant 3-5 days after a baby is born. Your breast may feel full and may leak milk. Stimulating your breast will tell your body to keep making milk, and not stimulating your breast will send the message to your body to stop making milk and your supply will go away.
Some mothers choose to pump their milk and donate to a milk bank. If you are interested in this option or for further questions and concerns, you may contact UAMS Lactation Services at (501) 526-3558.
Abdominal cramping and pain are common, especially in the first few days after delivery. Take all medicine prescribed by your healthcare provider and continue to take your prenatal vitamins for up to 6 weeks after delivery. Tylenol or Advil are commonly used if there are no allergies or interactions with other medications; talk with your doctor before taking other pain medication. Please do NOT drive while taking narcotics. If the pain increases with time, please seek medical attention. You may also use over the counter stool softeners and fiber supplements for constipation.
Monitor Your Temperature
Take your temperature in the evening for the first 5 days. If your temperature rises above 100.4°F, contact your doctor. A fever may indicate an infection in the body.
Your Emotional Health
Here are tips how to take care of yourself emotionally after experiencing a the loss of a pregnancy or infant:
Talk about Your Feelings
When you’re ready, find a few people you feel safe talking with and share your feelings. Talk about your baby, and express your needs to your partner, close friends, family, religious or spiritual leader, healthcare provider, hospital social worker, or a counselor.
Write your thoughts and feelings in a journal. This will allow you to express your feelings in your own way. You may even find it helpful to write letters, poems, or songs to your baby or about your baby.
Make an Album or Memory Box
Place items or pictures in your memory box or album that are meaningful to you and remind you of your pregnancy and your baby.
Wear jewelry with a special charm or birth stone.
Join a Support Group
Your local hospital or community may have a support group for family members dealing with pregnancy or infant loss. There may also be groups available online. A support group will allow you to openly express your feelings, share with others and receive support from those that have journeyed through similar experiences.
Select a Spokesperson
To avoid retelling the sad news, enlist the help of a trustworthy friend or family member to tell others.
Go see a movie, get a manicure, have dinner with friends, or whatever small activity makes you feel a little better.
When you are up for it, start taking walks. Regular exercise is good for you physically and mentally.
Memorialize Your Baby
Many people find comfort in things like planting a tree or flowers, painting special stepping stones to place in a garden, holding a personal memorial, lighting a candle, arranging for a lantern or butterfly release; there are many personal, meaningful ways to express your grief. You can plan your own special memorial service to remember your baby, or attend a service with your local hospital or support group.
Make a Donation
Donate your time, talents, or make monetary donations to a local group in memory of your baby and to support other parents who may be experiencing a similar situation.
Call 911 if you have any of the following:
- Pain in your chest
- Shortness of breath
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
- Bleeding that soaks through one pad an hour, or blood clots the size of an egg or larger
- Incision that is not healing
- Red or swollen leg, that is painful or warm to touch
- Temperature of 100.4 or higher
- Headache that does not get better even with medicine, or bad headache with vision changes