Childbirth is a miraculous time for all mothers and although many prepare thoroughly for pregnancy, it’s the stage that comes next that can be unexpectedly challenging. The postpartum period is often thought of as a joyous occasion, as friends and relatives keenly welcome the newest member of the family, however, the narrative does not always play out the same way for all mothers.
After your baby is born, your body will be tender and you will still be swimming with hormones for a good while yet, so it’s important to give yourself some time to recover. Here are a few postpartum pointers to help you prepare.
The postpartum period is different for all mothers and is often touted as a time of joy as new families get to know their newest member. Despite this, it is not always the case with everyone and there can be a lot of difficulties during this period so it’s important to be informed of the potential complications.
Whether a mother gives birth naturally or by Caesarean section, bleeding can be expected after giving birth. It’s no cause for alarm and is simply part of the body’s process in healing the uterus and birth canal. Postpartum bleeding is called Lochia and generally lasts a few weeks, however, some new mothers may experience it for longer.
The First Number Two
For the second pointer, let’s talk number twos. The first bowel postpartum bowel movement can be particularly painful, as new mothers will be using the same exhausted muscles that helped them to give birth. There are some things you can do to manage the pain, such as stool softeners, ibuprofen and even drinking warm tea with lemon.
It Takes a While to Lose the Tummy
It takes a while for a new mother’s belly to shrink down to its pre-pregnancy state, however, within the first six weeks the uterus will contract most of the way back to its original size. It may also take time for your body to adjust and to lose weight gained during pregnancy, but the best way to help this is to eat well and start exercising when you feel ready.
Breastfeeding is not always a breeze for all women. It can feel anywhere from strange to painful, but usually, with time, new mothers find their body’s sync up with their baby’s needs. It’s worth trying different positions, but if difficulty or pain persists, it’s worth contacting an obstetrician, or getting in touch with the lactation consultant at your hospital.
Tender Swollen Genitals
Women’s genitals often take a long time to heal from the stress of childhood and many may incur tears or wounds that are very painful. The groin, genitals and pelvic muscles heal within time, but within the first few weeks, many new mothers find some relief by applying an ice pack.
Childbirth is a traumatic experience for the body and the weeks ensuing, new mothers will likely experience a lot of physical pain in many different places. Postpartum contractions and cramping can result from the uterus shrinking back to its pre-birth size. Aches and pains can be different for many women, but it can be particularly painful for mothers who undergo Caesarean sections, which can sometimes take at least 8 weeks to recover from.
Hormone change may result in some women losing their hair. Despite his, it grows back in most instances. In some cases, hair can even change its texture, with straight hair turning more curly or vice versa!
The postpartum period can be one of the most overwhelming in many women’s lives. This is usually due to a huge fluctuation of hormones, as well as dealing with a completely different routine and lifestyle. Mothers may find themselves experiencing huge ups and downs and crying over just about anything, and all this can be further agitated with a lack of sleep.
There’s no question that it will feel like a big shock, however, most give the advice ‘Just give it six weeks’. If the emotional symptoms become severe or linger, it may be a symptom of one of the next conditions.
Pregnancy can feel like a large build up, like a roller coaster that keeps building, however, for some mums the difficulty of the postpartum period can feel like an anticlimax or another hill to climb. This, combined with a change in hormones can lead to a condition called, ‘baby blues’, which happens to 60% to 80% of new mothers.
Symptoms include feeling low, crying and anxiety, and usually show up around a couple of days after giving birth and only persist for a couple of weeks. They can, however, linger and worsen which may be an indication of postpartum depression.
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Sleep deprivation, a huge drop in hormones and the difficulties of the postpartum period can result in a condition known as Postpartum Depression (PPD) in 10% to 20% of mothers. Women who were already susceptible to depression and anxiety before childbirth have a significantly higher chance of incurring PPD.
Symptoms are like that of anxiety and depression and can include feelings of rage, regret, feelings of inadequacy and melancholy. The best treatment is to see a mental health professional who may offer talking therapy (counselling or psychotherapy) or a course of antidepressants.
If you have any questions about giving birth or the postpartum period or would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Dr Brown is one of the most trusted obstetricians in Sydney and will be thrilled to give you complete and compassionate care in every way possible.