My postpartum body - myths and misbeliefs


09. 07. 2020

Superstitions can be very confusing and sometimes even dangerous. Have you heard the one about eating your placenta after birth to replenish your iron stores? There are so many myths and supposed facts out there that make it very difficult to know what to believe.

Canadian Medical’s gynaecologist, Dr. Miroslav Verner, dispels some of the most common myths surrounding the postpartum period in the magazine Dítě a já (My child and me). Read the full interview below.

After birth, the vagina has to be cleaned- would a vaginal detox with special vaginal balls help?

After birth, the uterus goes through a process called involution, where it shifts back to its pre-pregnancy state, and the body naturally expels any post-partum discharge. It is therefore very important to upkeep a good hygiene routine and frequently change sanitary pads. If good hygiene is adhered to, it is usually sufficient prevention against any postpartum infections or complications. Detoxification with special vaginal balls is not necessary.

My birth canal will heal faster if I undergo vaginal steaming.

Absolutely not. A much more appropriate method of ensuring a fast healing process is ensuring the birthing canals and any injuries are kept clean with regular hygiene (showering after each breastfeed or toilet break) and dry by ensuring good airflow.

I lost a lot of blood during labour. Should I start supplementing iron to facilitate blood regeneration.

If there is an unusually high loss of blood during childbirth, then the use of supplements containing iron, as well as the consumption of red meat, may be beneficial to the new mother by increasing the rate of replenishment of her losses.

Healing requires warmth from below. Even at home I always have to have panties and a pad, even when it’s hot.

On the contrary actually. Wound healing requires a proper hygiene routine (repeated rinses several times a day with clean water, non-irritating soap) and fresh air, which prevents the reproduction of some types of bacteria that are responsible for infections. Therefore, after leaving the maternity hospital, women are often instructed not to wear any underwear at home and to let their vaginas “breathe”.

I shouldn’t lie on my stomach for at least a month after giving birth.

Quite the opposite, sleeping on your abdomen actually helps the uterus shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size.

Using an abdominal wrap will help my abdominal organs return back to their regular position.

A correctly applied wrap or support belt relieves any pressure of the abdominal organs (including the uterus) on the abdominal muscle wall, and thus helps them return to their natural state prior to pregnancy.

Taping will help heal my caesarean scars.

Taping is considered to be one of the supportive therapeutic options in the sixth trimester and is appropriate for both vaginal and caesarean delivery. Likewise, the use of elastic patches (which can be seen just as an exaggerated form of taping) helps reduce skin tension, and allows the wounds to heal faster and more aesthetically.

After giving birth, it is necessary to start exercising my abdominal muscles as soon as possible, otherwise my stomach will remain loose.

Exercising the abdominal muscles during the postpartum period is very important and helps the woman return to her pre-pregnancy physical state. However, timing is everything. Vigorous exercise should not be started until the distance between the two straight abdominal muscles is less than 2 fingers apart.

I can’t do any sport for at least a year after giving birth.

This is also a myth; sport actually helps the body recover faster and restore its physical fitness. In addition, it has a lot of positive impacts on alleviating any stress and mental health issues (which are all very common with new mothers) and contributes to the mother’s postpartum mental well-being. The only thing that should be performed carefully are any extreme sports or vigorous exercise, and do not forget about your drinking regime during exercise.

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