Postpartum Care: The top 7 postpartum care events to know
After giving birth, all mothers will endure postpartum care symptoms and for the first-time parent, when you take your new little bundle of joy home, it can be both exciting and a little bit scary. You've just had the baby, and now you're finally home with loads of questions about your baby and yourself. Here is a list of symptoms you will experience as a new mom.
1. Vaginal Aching
Although the female body was made to give birth, that doesn’t change the fact that it sure is a painful process. After giving birth vaginally, every mom will expect some pain, soreness and tenderness, bruising or swelling in the vagina and perineal area. You could feel it while you’re sitting and/or moving around.
As you may or may not have experienced, some moms endure vaginal tearing when the baby enters into this new world. Depending on the tear, your doctor might stitch you up in the delivery room, from there you will heal and the stitches will dissolve on their own in a few weeks. However, during that process it’s common to have some stinging or burning.
If sitting is uncomfortable, try sitting on a pillow or get a donut seat/cushion. You could feel some discomfort when urinating, so try squirting warm water over the perineum during urination to help ease the pain. After you’ve finished urinating, very gently pat dry the perineum.
Expect the pain to slowing ease away, but if for some reason the pain intensifies be sure to contact your doctor.
2. After Birth Discharge
If you’ve already had a child then you know that after giving birth there is the appearance of what is called lochia. It is vaginal discharge consisting of tissue and blood from the uterus. This discharge will gradually diminish, becoming more of a water-like consistency and changing from pink or brown to yellow or white.
If you’re a new mom have no worries, this is a completely natural and healthy process of the body. Your only concern should be hygiene. Medical experts recommend not using tampons after delivery as this could cause an infection.
Take a bath or shower twice daily with neutral soap. After every bowel movement, it’s recommended to take what is called a sitz bath. This entails sitting in the tub with shallow water, with a sufficient amount of water to cover your hips and buttocks.
You should contact your doctor if you have heavy vaginal bleeding, discharge of a foul order, or if you have a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C) or higher.
3. Contractions and Breastfeeding
After giving birth, you may feel contractions, also called afterpains which usually mimic menstrual cramps. These contractions occur because your uterus is shrinking back to its normal size. Often times, these contractions coincide especially with breastfeeding because when you nurse your baby, you release hormones which cause the uterus to contract.
The cramps tend to be stronger with consecutive deliveries. To aid in the healing of your blood vessels, it’s recommended to begin breastfeeding as soon as you can. If you have a fever or if your abdomen is sensitive to the touch, it could be a sign of an uterine infection. Contact your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms.
After giving birth, many women experience swelling of the face and extremities like the hands, feet, and legs. If you’ve had a C-section, you could experience some swelling around the incision, or if you’ve had an episiotomy you could experience some swelling at the perineum.
To reduce swelling, it’s best to avoid standing for too long, try to keep your feet up as much as possible, and particularly while you’re lying down. If you must stand for long periods of time, you should wear comfortable shoes that don’t constrict the feet and be sure to take breaks to rest your feet periodically.
Drink plenty of water to keep the system flushed and hydrated. Light exercise is okay, for example an easy walk can help promote circulation in the body. Always, consult with your health care provider before beginning any exercise program.
5. Bowel Movements
When the urge hits, it best to try to go to the bathroom as soon as you can. If you wait, your stool may build up and become hard. If you notice pain during bowel movements and feel swelling near your anus, it’s possible that you could have hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in the anus or lower rectum. To ease this pain while the hemorrhoids heal, soak in a warm tub and apply chilled witch hazel pads to the affected area. Your doctor may also recommend using a hemorrhoid medication as well.
To help with constipation, you should be sure to drink plenty of water and eat fresh fruit and vegetables because they are rich in fiber. Also, avoid processed foods with contain high amounts of sodium.
6. Sore Breast
Your breast milk will typically come in by the third or fourth day after you give birth. Once this occurs, your breasts might become firm, swollen and tender. To help with the pain, nurse, use a breast pump, apply warm washcloths or take a warm shower to expel the milk. Of course, the best cure is to ensure that your baby is feeding properly as best as you can. Between feedings, place cold washcloths or an ice pack on your breasts. The use of a breast pump can help you expel some of the milk as well.
If you're not breast-feeding, it’s recommended to wear a firm, supportive bra, for instance a sports bra, to help stop the production of the milk. Whatever you do, don't pump or rub your breasts because this will cause your breasts to continue producing more milk.
In addition to all the physical changes the woman’s body goes through, you can also experience strong emotions, which can often generate mixed feelings. Happiness intertwined with fear and doubt and sometimes sadness. You could feel more delicate or cry suddenly at random moments. You may feel lonely or have to deal with low self-esteem. These experiences and emotions are all normal and completely understandable.
If for some reason, these emotions happen to become more intense, for example feelings of anxiety, terror, sadness, insomnia or lethargy, it’s recommended to ask for help. Talk to your health care provider, because these feelings are signs of postpartum depression.
Read more here on our post dedicated to postpartum depression.
After delivery, the six-week mark is usually the time when your doctor will check your vagina, cervix and uterus to make sure the healing process is on track. They could also exam the breast and check your weight and blood pressure. At this time, you can talk about resuming sexual activity, birth control, breast-feeding and generally how adjusting to life with a new baby is.
Did we miss anything? Drop a comment below! 👇👇👇Let new moms know what else they should expect!