Recovery and Care after Delivery
What is postpartum care?
The first six weeks following childbirth are called the postpartum period. It’s a joyful time for moms and a time of adjustment and healing. These weeks will be a time when you bond with your baby, and you will have a post-delivery visit with your doctor.
Making the transition to motherhood
It can be difficult to adjust to daily life after birth, especially for a new mom. While it is important to look after your baby, it is equally important to take care of yourself.
New mothers are unlikely to return to work within the first six weeks of their birth. This gives you time to adjust and create a new routine. You may have sleepless nights because a baby must be fed and changed frequently. It can be frustrating and exhausting. You’ll eventually get used to it. Here are some tips to make the transition easier.
1. To combat fatigue and tiredness, get plenty of sleep. You may find your baby awakened every two to three hours to feed. You can ensure that your baby gets enough sleep by sleeping when he or she sleeps.
2. Ask for help. Do not hesitate to ask your family and friends for help during and after the postpartum period. Practical help around the house can help heal your body. Friends and family can help prepare meals, run errands or care for children in the house.
3. Healthy eating habits are key to healing. It would be best to increase your whole grains and vegetables and fruits and protein intake. If you breastfeed, you should increase your fluid intake.
4. Get active. Your doctor will tell you when it is okay to exercise. It shouldn’t be too strenuous. Take a stroll near your home. A change of scenery can be refreshing and increase your energy.
As a new family unit
New babies can be a difficult adjustment for your entire family. It can also change the dynamics between you and your partner. You and your partner might spend less time together after birth, leading to some problems. There are ways to manage this overwhelming and stressful time.
Be patient, for starters. Understanding that each couple experiences changes after having a baby is born will help you be patient. You’ll get used to it, but it will take time. Each day is easier for caring for a newborn.
Communicate as a family. Talk about any feelings of being left out, whether your spouse or children. Be understanding. While babies will require your full attention, and you and your partner will be spending most of the day taking care of them, it’s okay to spend some time alone as a couple in the postpartum period.
Postpartum depression vs baby blues
The baby blues are normal during postpartum. It usually occurs within a few days of giving birth and can last up to two weeks. Most people won’t experience symptoms every day. Your symptoms may vary. About 70% to 80 per cent of new mothers experience mood swings and negative feelings after giving birth. The hormonal changes that cause baby blues can include:
- Unexplained crying
- Changes in mood
When is it appropriate to see a doctor for medical concerns?
Postpartum depression is different from baby blues. When symptoms last more than two weeks, it is called postpartum depression.
Other symptoms include guilt, worthlessness, and a loss of interest in daily activities. Postpartum depression can cause women to withdraw from their families, lose interest in their babies, and even have thoughts about hurting them.
Postpartum depression requires medical treatment. Talk to your doctor if your depression lasts more than two weeks after you give birth or if your thoughts are harming your baby. Postpartum depression may develop after birth, even up until one year later.
How to deal with body changes
After giving birth, you will experience emotional and physical changes. This includes weight gain. Be patient. Weight loss does not happen overnight. Start with moderate exercise for a few minutes each day, and then increase the intensity and length of your workouts. You can walk, take a swim, or sign up for an aerobics class.
Healthy, balanced meals with fruits, vegetables, whole grains are key to losing weight. Each mother’s weight loss journey is different. Don’t try to compare your efforts with others. Breastfeeding can speed up your return to pre-pregnancy weight because it increases your daily calories burned.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding changes in your body after delivery, talk to your doctor. You may also notice:
After birth, your breasts will begin to fill with milk within a few days. Although this is normal, engorgement (swelling) can be painful. The process of engorgement will improve with time. Apply a cold or warm compress to your breasts to ease the discomfort. Breast-feeding can cause sore nipples that will eventually disappear once your body adapts. To soothe pain and crack, you can use nipple oil.
Drink plenty of water and eat high-fibre food to stimulate your bowel activity. Talk to your doctor about safe medication options. Haemorrhoids can be relieved by fibre, as well as using over-the-counter creams and sitting in a sitz-bath. Water can help with urination problems after birth. Kegel exercises may help with incontinence.
Changes to the pelvic floor
The perineum is the area between your rectum (or vagina) and your stomach. It is often stretched and sometimes tears during birth. A doctor may cut this area to aid in labour. After delivery, you can help the area heal by performing Kegel exercises and icing it with cold packs wrapped in towels.
After having a baby, hormonal changes can lead to nighttime sweating. To keep cool, take out blankets from your bed.
A shrinking uterus can cause cramping following birth. It will subside over time. Ask your doctor for safe pain medication.
Two to four weeks after giving birth, vaginal discharge is common. This is how your body removes blood and tissue from the uterus. Keep your sanitary napkins clean until the discharge stops.
Avoid tampons and douches until you have a four- to six-week postpartum appointment or until your doctor has approved it. These products should not be used in the first six weeks after delivery to increase your risk for uterine infections. If your vaginal discharge is foul-smelling, notify your doctor. Although you may experience some bloody spotting during the first week after delivery, heavy bleeding should not be expected. Contact your doctor if you experience heavy vaginal bleeding, such as one sanitary pad becoming saturated within two hours.
Although birthing can disrupt your family’s routine and family structure, you will eventually adapt. You will gradually experience a decrease in the emotional and physical effects after giving birth. Talk to your doctor about your concerns regarding depression, your baby or the healing process.