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Taking care of your body post pregnancy

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Giving birth to your baby can be a simultaneously satisfying and tiring experience. On one hand you may be feeling delighted about your baby while on the other, you are so fatigued that you may not be able to enjoy your time with the baby for few days after the birth.

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Possible concerns after childbirth.

You may face few unavoidable problems during this period. Taking proper post-natal care can help you in recovering from the physical fatigue and also help in emotional recovery. Let’s take a look at some of the post-natal problems that you may face.

Vaginal discharge. Post delivery, during the first few days, your uterus begins to shrink back to its normal pre-pregnancy size. During this phase you may experience a heavy bloody vaginal discharge. Don’t worry, this is just an expelling of tissue debris called Lochia, that needs to be expelled out of the system. In case of caesarian deliveries Lochia may be less heavy since doctors clean out the uterine cavity before stitching it back.

You may need to use special maternity pads which are extra thick to counter the heavy discharges. The flow usually slows down after 7-10 days with a change in colour, from bright red in first 4 days to brownish or pink between 5-9 days and thereafter to pale white from 10-15 days..

After-pain in lower abdomen. You may experience some degree of period-like pain in your lower abdomen. This happens because of uterine contractions caused by oxytocin so as to encourage the uterus to shrink back. Since oxytocin is released when the baby suckles the breast you may feel this pain during or after breastfeeding your baby. After pain is generally mild and last only for 2-4 days  after the delivery. However, if it is persistent and severe, consult your doctor.

Flabby abdomen. After delivery, your abdomen looks a bit flabby because of the slack muscles and wrinkled skin. Gentle post-natal exercises help you tighten up your abdominal and vaginal muscles. Exercises also help you to get back in shape early on. You can join some post-natal classes to maintain a routine. Consult your doctor before you start a regimen.

Breast swelling and pain.This is also seen to some degree in mothers in the early post-delivery days. Immediately after birth, the breasts begin to produce colostrum (first milk) and subsequently by the 3rd or 4th day, when the pregnancy hormones decline, the main milk supply becomes established. At this time the breasts swell, feel hard, and can be painful as well.

Healing wound and the resulting pain. If you have had stitches, or your perineum was bruised during childbirth, you find anything that puts pressure on the area, painful. The stitches become tighter as the skin begins to swell and the wound begins to heal which makes even a little movement quite painful. You can reduce the soreness of the area with a gel pack held against the perineum, or by sitting in some warm water source. You can also consult your doctor for pain relieving medicines.

The perineal wound should be dressed with betadine and antiseptic ointment after each act of urination or defecation to prevent any kind of infection in the stiches, which would otherwise further increase the pain in the perineal steer line.

In case of severe pain you must get the perineum examined to rule out infection / hematoma.

Difficulty in urinating. Post delivery, you must pass urine 6-8 hrs. after delivery and thereafter at 4-6 hr. interval. Some  mothers  feel difficulty in passing urine due to fatigue in the bladder muscles during labor. In such cases doctors may put catheters for a day or two to allow the bladder muscles to relax and regain their normal tone.

First bowelmovements may be painful.Post delivery, this may also be a slightly painful experience. You may fear that the stitches are going to open up due to strain, but actually they won’t. To counter this, start drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. This helps you in preventing constipation. Subsequently, you can also start consuming high fibre food like whole grains, green leafy vegetables etc. Gentle exercises also help in preventing constipation.

Discomforts decrease with time.

Gradually as the breastfeeding practice gets established, the discomfort and pain subsides. Washing breasts with warm water helps soothe them. You can also support your breasts with a well-fitted and supporting bra to reduce the discomfort.

C-section delivery related pain.

Mothers with c-section deliveries may be given strong anaesthesia and analgesia for the first 48 hours after operation. After that, intravenous pain relievers are given until a few days after the delivery. Post which, tablets are prescribed for relieving pains. Apart from the medical treatment, it is important to follow a few steps to keep yourself fit and healthy.

Keep walking. If you had a c-section you may be a bit susceptible to thrombosis. To avoid this, get up and take a walk after every couple of hours.

Take rest. You may need to take as much rest as possible during the first few days after delivery. The responsibility of taking care of the baby needs to be shared by the father, or by other members of the family till the time you recover completely from the childbirth process and regain your normal strength.

Relax. For the first few days after delivery, your priority must be on breastfeeding your baby and taking as much rest as possible. You can try out some relaxation techniques as well to relieve your body and mind of stress. Relax your body as much as possible.  

Eat a nutritious diet. Ensure that you consume a nutritious diet rich in proteins, vitamins and complex carbohydrates.

Exercise and get back to shape. Start off with mild exercises within the first few days of delivery and follow it up with a more comprehensive routine later on. However, it’s better to consult your doctor before you start any exercise regime. If you have had a C-section delivery you may need to wait till the first post-natal checkup, which is carried out after 6 weeks of delivery, before starting any strenuous exercise.

In short, a little bit of extra care for your body and some emotional support from your family during the first few days after delivery help you a great deal in recovering from the strains, both physical and mental, of childbirth.

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