Post-partum care: What to Expect after Having a Normal Delivery

Only a mother knows how much she can endure either in terms of physical pain and changes and nothing in this universe can measure up to it. The period of pregnancy or the gestational period [which on average is 37-42 weeks] is calculated by ultrasonic dating or the Naegele’s rule. Commonly found stats claim that 80% deliveries are done by the end of full-terms, while 11% and 10% of the deliveries are done pre-term and post-term respectively.

A mother’s body needs to make a lot of in order to keep the baby safe. These are happy changes and when your baby is finally here, it’s starting to change again. This can be exhilarating as well as confusing. Mostly we are inherently strong and we heal very quickly. Sometimes the sheer joy of giving birth makes us ignore some signs that says that the mother needs some looking after.

Here’s a list of things that one can expect after a vaginal delivery:

VAGINAL DISCOMFORT

Vaginal tears, or perineal lacerations may occur during childbirth. Sometimes, an episiotomy or a surgical cut can be made in the perineum [muscular area between the vagina and the anus] to enlarge a vaginal opening in order to facilitate the delivery of a baby. These cuts and tears can be quite painful and can take weeks to heal, depending upon the severity of the cut. Here’s what you can do to cure the discomfort and accelerate the overall vaginal healing process-

  • Avoid sitting on a hard surface. Use a pillow case while sitting down
  • Ask your doctor for some prescribed analgesics
  • Peeing after a delivery can be occasionally painful. In that case one can spray warm water over the perineum during urination
  • Cool the area that pains with an ice pack. But remember to be very gentle as your muscles are still tender

Experiencing afterpains, which can be treated by taking prescribed medications from a doctor. These afterpains can occur due to the occasional contractions in the uterus to prevent excess blood loss.

A woman can have vaginal discharge, light bleeding or spotting till 6 weeks post-delivery, however contact your OBSTETRICIAN/GYNECOLOGIST if it continues further.

HEMORRHOIDS

Hemorrhoids, or swollen veins in the rectum and anus can be quite painful, especially during bowel movements. To help with the stiffness:

Self-care:

  • Consume a high fiber diet
  • Use ice-packs
  • Use witch hazel extract, which is a plant extract and helps in soothing pain and itchiness

Medications:

  • Ask medical professionals for local anesthetics, dietary supplements and maybe even some steroids
  • Hemorrhoids can also be treated by various medical procedures like Sclerotherapy, Stapled Hemorrhoidopexy etc. Consult immediately with your doctor if you are having severe and continuous painful episodes.

CONSTIPATION:

It can be caused by fear, anxiety, anesthesia, pain-relief drugs. Have plenty of water and fiber or get a stool softener.

PHYSICAL CHANGES:

  • Hormonal fluctuations cause hair loss up to five months post-delivery
  • 90% of the women develop stretch lines across their belly, butt, thighs, hips or breast
  • Weight loss
  • Your muscles are still tender and have suffered quite a strenuous task. This can cause you to sometimes leak a few drops of urine. In that case wear sanitary pads or panty liners for a few weeks.
  • To avoid engorged breast try feeding from both the sides.

EMOTIONAL CHANGES

  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression and fatigue

Here’s a list of things to look out for:

  • Heavy vaginal discharge
  • Heavy blood clots
  • High fever
  • Vomiting
  • Swellings
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Severe pain
  • Severe discomfort while urination

Also, it is very common for mothers to undergo post-partum depression [PDD] and baby blues. In such a case, seek help and talk to your partner.

Please remember all this is normal and you are not alone- a little discomfort, physical changes and baby blues. One just needs to be slightly careful and make herself a priority. What you have created is a personal history. Be accepting, stay happy and love yourself.

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