Your body goes through many changes during the nine months of pregnancy. After the baby is born, your body would revert back to its pre-pregnant state. The aftermath is known as postpartum. Your newborn will require a lot of care. However, as the mother, you need to care for yourself too. If you feel crappy during this stage, remember, it’s OK.
The Puerperium Period
It is the immediate period of recovery after childbirth. This takes approximately four weeks. However, you might be concerned about what is happening to your body during the week or two. After the delivery, your stretched up cervix and vagina would regain its former elasticity and close up. You may bleed up to six weeks as your placental site heals. Your uterus shrinks down to the size it was at about the fourth month of pregnancy immediately after the birth. It would take about six weeks for your uterus to revert back to its pre-pregnant size.
The aftermath of pregnancy is not peaches and cream. After the delivery, you would face many discomforts during the healing period. Here are some tips to relieve these discomforts:
Coping with Stitches
The discomforts from the stitches can last up to a couple of weeks. During a normal vaginal delivery, you might experience an episiotomy or may have had internal tears that would have required stitches. To relieve the soreness, a pain reliever would be given by your doctor. Do not douche, use tampons or have intercourse until your doctor advises. If your bowel movements are painful, speak to your doctor as they might recommend stool softeners.
If you had experienced a C-section, the stitches given are usually dissolvable. Therefore, it does not need to be removed. However, you will need to see a health care provider to change the dressing. You will be advised at the hospital upon discharge.
It is very important that you do not do anything strenuous while the wound is healing. Do not stand for long periods or any type of heavy lifting.
Lactation begins three or four days after birth. You might experience engorgement making your breast uncomfortably large, hard and tender. You can relieve the pain by breastfeeding your baby as often as possible. Expressing is another solution. You can express using a manual or electrical pump. Have a warm bath or place a warm compress to your breast for extra relief. Always use a supportive nursing bra.
After-Pains aka Involution
The contractions that occur after the delivery is called after-pains. It happens when your uterus is shrinking back down to its pre-pregnant size. Usually, you can take pain medication recommended by your health care provider. Do not overexert yourself. Drink plenty of fluids. Urinate often as possible. A full bladder could push on the uterus and make the process painful.
Leaking urine when coughing, sneezing or even laughing is common. It can be an embarrassing situation for many women after childbirth. It is the result of the stretched and weakened perineal muscle. To gain back strength of this muscle, it is advisable to do the pelvic floor exercises known as Kegel exercises. Normally, it would go away on its own. However, if you find it very difficult to manage this problem, talk to your practitioner. Remember you are not the only one who faces stress incontinence.
Hemorrhoids and Bowel Movement
Pain during bowel movements and the swollen feeling near your anus indicates you might be having hemorrhoids. They are also known as piles. This is caused due to the swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum. Hemorrhoids do not only occur after vaginal delivery. You might experience hemorrhoids after a c-section too. There are over the counter medication available to counter this problem. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor. Eat plenty of fiber-filled fruits and vegetables. The fiber helps to soften your stools and help with bowel movement.
Postpartum Body Care
Rest, rest and more rest
Rest? How? There will be so many things needed to be taken care of when the baby is back home. This phrase would definitely run across your mind. However, remember, your body has gone through a lot. Pushing it further will only cause more problems. To heal faster, resting as much as possible is the key. When the baby is asleep, you should also sleep. Husbands can help with diaper changing or feeding the baby via bottle. Get help from family or friends. Do not feel awkward in asking for help.
It is good to maintain a good diet after childbirth. Try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables with a balance of protein and dairy. Avoid taking spicy and oily food. Eating fruits and vegetables would make it easy for your bowel movements. Not only that, what you eat will go to your baby if you are breastfeeding. Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated at all times. Other than water, you can also drink milk or fresh fruit juices. Avoid taking in too much caffeine and soft drinks which contain a lot of sugar. Also, limit the amount of junk food also. It is ok to eat junk food once in a while. However, do not replace it with healthy food.
Many women out there make the mistake of not exercising after giving birth. They lose themselves to motherhood and neglect the very essentials their body needs from the start. As the baby grows older, excuses are made when it comes to getting back in shape. You must remember, exercising make your body stronger and your mind healthier. Take it slow and easy. Do light exercises like walking for at least thirty minutes. You can also do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles. Gradually, you will know when you can start an exercise regime. If you have doubts, talk to your doctor. Do not give up on your body too soon.
You may be a new mother or an experienced one. Remember, raising babies is a lot of work. Do not feel embarrassed to ask for help when needed. Do not let your emotions get the better of you. Most importantly, do not lose yourself in the process. Love yourself first. So that your baby can feel the love too.