After the birth of her newborn, the mother’s life is completely governed by her little one but nevertheless, the postpartum care is important to recover from the trauma your body has suffered during delivery. There are so many changes brought by pregnancy which continue even after the baby is born. Just like pregnancy, the postpartum changes are different for every woman.
#1 Vaginal Soreness
If you’ve had a wound due to vaginal tear or episiotomy during normal delivery, it may hurt for few weeks. The pain and discomfort will slowly reduce and go away after few weeks.
- Keep the wound clean
- Soothe the wound with an ice pack
- Whenever you pass urine, pour warm water over your vulva.
- Ensure you are comfortable whenever you sit. If sitting directly is uncomfortable, use a pillow or cushion.
- If the pain becomes unbearable or there is swelling and pus-like discharge, then contact your doctor.
#2 Vaginal Discharge
There’ll be vaginal blood discharge for few weeks after delivery which will be heavy in the initial few days and gradually taper off to pink, brown, yellow and then translucent white. You may pass small blood clots with the fluid.
The flow may in increase suddenly when you change position for example stand or sit suddenly.
- Use sanitary napkins instead of tampons
- Change sanitary napkins every four to five hours to avoid the risk of any infection
- If you experience bad odor in the discharge, passing large blood clots or high fever, contact your doctor immediately.
#3 Abdominal contractions
Remember those menstrual cramps? Similar to those you may feel contractions in the abdominal region in the initial few days. Doctor might have recommended some mild over-the-counter pain killers.
#4 Trouble urinating
- Delivery causes injury to the tissues surrounding the urinary bladder. This leads to a stinging sensation while passing urine.
- Whenever you go to loo, pour some warm water around vulva this may help.
- If the hurt is too much or there is a very frequent urge to urinate, contact your doctor to check for UTI.
#5 Urine leakage
- During pregnancy and childbirth, the bladder tissues are stretched and become weaker. This may cause urine to leak when you cough or laugh.
- Do Kegel exercises to tone and tighten your pelvic muscles
#6 Painful bowel movement
is very common postpartum complication due swelling and stretching of the veins in the anus/rectal region.
- Soak in a tub filled with warm water
- Ask your doctor for a haemorrhoid medication that can be applied topically
- Soften your stool by eating fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also, drink lots of water!
#7 Sore breasts or engorgement
For most new moms, breast milk starts coming within 24 hours after delivery. It is rare situation where the production exceeds the demand i.e. your breasts make much more milk compared to what your baby needs. This makes your breast heavy and swollen (also known as engorgement).
- Nurse your baby as often he/she is hungry
- Use a breast pump
- Apply ice packs if there is a lot of swelling
- Ensure your baby is sucking properly
- Wear nursing pads to avoid wet clothes due to breast leak
#8 Hair Loss
A woman’s body undergoes a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy and childbirth. Post delivery, the body begins to shed hair. Therefore six months after childbirth, a majority of moms experience hair fall.
- Be prepared and don’t panic
- Eat healthy diet
- Shampoo only when required
- Avoid straightening, curling or use of any harsh chemicals which may aggravate the hair loss
#9 Stretch Marks
Some find them bad, others wear stretch marks as a proud mark of motherhood. It all depends on how you view the indispensable part of pregnancy. They won’t disappear but will fade away slowly to a lighter shade.
#10 Changes in mood
Very often you’ll find your mood on a roller coaster ride. Powerful emotions like sadness, irritability, anxiety, mild depression are all part of this baby-making game.
Read more about Postpartum depression.
#11 Take care of yourself
- Rejoice in the new found motherhood
- Seek help from spouse, friends and family. Talk to them
#12 Weight loss
Well, the toughest aspect of pregnancy. For a while, you’ll find yourself totally out of shape. It’s perfectly normal. People around you don’t judge you by the shape of your body. The glow which the little bundle of joy in your arms brings on your face takes away all the attention.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly (of course at least 4-6 weeks after delivery) to shed extra kilos.
What to avoid
- Your body has worked in the last few months. It deserves good amount of rest and a chance to recover before you get on routine activities.
- Take rest for at least 4-6 weeks before any sexual intercourse or strenuous work
- Avoid long car trips.
- Do not use douche to rinse inside your vagina.
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