A woman in her third trimester looks down and holds her belly with a look of joy on her face.

3 Overlooked Perinatal Practices to Support Your Postpartum Recovery

  • Author: Lucy Xia
  • Published On: Apr 17, 2024
  • Category: Postpartum Care

Did you know that the things you do during pregnancy (and pre-pregnancy) can really set the stage for a smoother postpartum period? The habits and choices you make while pregnant, like eating well, staying active, and managing stress, can all have a positive impact on how you feel after your baby arrives. By taking care of yourself during pregnancy, you're giving yourself the best shot at a healthy and happy postpartum experience. So let's dive in and explore 3 things that you can do during and after pregnancy that are not-so-obvious but can make a difference in your postpartum journey.

Take prenatal vitamins before, during, AND after pregnancy

Taking prenatal vitamins before, during, and after pregnancy is essential for your health and your baby’s development, meeting increased nutritional needs, and supporting postpartum recovery.

Before Pregnancy:

  • Preparation for Conception: Starting prenatal vitamins before pregnancy helps ensure your body has essential nutrients like folic acid, iron, and calcium necessary for a healthy pregnancy and fetal spine development
  • Optimize Nutrient Stores: Building up nutrient stores in your body before pregnancy can support the increased demands of fetal development during pregnancy

During Pregnancy:

  • Fetal Development: Prenatal vitamins provide essential nutrients critical for fetal growth and development, including brain and nervous system development. Folic acid, iron, calcium, and other vitamins in prenatal supplements reduce the risk of birth defects and support healthy fetal development
  • Maternal Health: Pregnancy increases nutritional needs, and prenatal vitamins help meet these increased demands to support maternal health and prevent deficiencies. Iron support is a big benefit. Iron helps prevent anemia, a common issue during pregnancy, which can cause fatigue and other complications

After Pregnancy:

  • Replenish Nutrient Stores: Pregnancy and childbirth can deplete nutrient stores in the body, especially if you are breastfeeding. Prenatal vitamins help ensure adequate nutrient intake for all moms and if breastfeeding, babies too.
  • Hair and Skin Health: Prenatal vitamins can also help mitigate postpartum hair loss and skin changes.

Get your thyroids checked during and after pregnancy

Checking thyroid function during and after pregnancy helps identify and manage thyroid disorders that can impact pregnancy and postpartum health. Your obstetrician or midwife should already be testing your thyroids during pregnancy. However, if you have a history of thyroid disease or symptoms, make sure to proactively discuss thyroid testing with your healthcare provider. Early detection and appropriate management of thyroid disorders contribute to a healthier pregnancy and postpartum period.

During Pregnancy:

  • Monitor Thyroid Function: Pregnancy affects thyroid hormone levels due to hormonal changes. Monitoring thyroid function during pregnancy ensures that thyroid hormone levels remain within the optimal range to support fetal development and maternal health as well as help avoid complications including preeclampsia, preterm birth, low birth weight, and developmental delays in the baby. Your provider may adjust your current thyroid medication if you already have thyroid disease.
  • Optimize Potential Treatment: If thyroid dysfunction is detected during pregnancy, appropriate treatment with medication can be initiated or adjusted to ensure optimal thyroid hormone levels

After Pregnancy:

  • Support Postpartum Recovery: Adequate thyroid hormone levels are important for postpartum recovery, including energy levels, mood stability, and overall well-being. Your provider will likely readjust any thyroid medication after pregnancy if you were on anything prior to pregnancy.
  • Check for Postpartum Thyroiditis: Though quite rare, only affecting about 5% of mothers, some may develop postpartum thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition characterized by transient thyroid dysfunction after childbirth. Monitoring thyroid function postpartum can aid in early detection and management of this condition.

Build up your back muscles

While a lot of the exercise discourse during and after pregnancy center around building or restoring core and pelvic strength, back muscles also play a critical and complementary role. It’s not obvious because when we think of core muscles, we automatically think of the abs and when we think of pelvic muscles, we think of the area immediately around the pelvis. However, core muscles are actually a general term that include muscles of the lower back, pelvis, and hips.

Many of the physical changes your body is experiencing during and after pregnancy require back strength to help you comfortably adjust. When the back muscles contract and stabilize the spine, they naturally help activate and support the entire core aiding in your posture and balance as weight shifts when your belly grows or as you tote around your baby. Back muscles also contribute to pelvic floor support by helping to stabilize the pelvis and maintain proper alignment of the spine. The pelvic floor muscles form the bottom part of the core and play a crucial role in supporting the pelvic organs, controlling bladder and bowel function, and maintaining pelvic stability. These are all functions that change during and after pregnancy so focusing on those back muscles during pregnancy can help you regain those pelvic floor functions more quickly after birth.

Here are a couple of back-strengthening exercises that you can incorporate during and after pregnancy:

  • Cat-Cow Stretch: This yoga-inspired stretch helps improve flexibility and mobility in the spine.
  • Bird-Dog Exercise: Strengthens the core and stabilizes the back muscles
  • Bridge Exercise: Targets the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles
  • Lat Pull-Downs: Can be performed using resistance bands or gym equipment to strengthen the upper back muscles

Everyone’s pregnancy and postpartum journey is different, listening to your body goes a long way. Of course, it’s also important to keep your provider in the loop as you incorporate any of the 3 perinatal tips above.

  • Share On:

  • Tags:

  • postpartumcare
  • Tags:

  • postpartumrecovery