As you enter a new phase of life after pregnancy and childbirth, which is referred to as postpartum, you may have several doubts, concerns and issues. The postpartum phase is not much discussed by family or healthcare professionals. It can be overwhelming to the new mom sometimes.
Your body will now require your time and attention to regain its pre-pregnancy self. Even in the case of normal or vaginal delivery, you will require a few weeks to recover fully.
With this article, we will help you understand the several changes that your body will go through during this phase and will address the common concerns that women have during their postpartum recovery.
What are the major concerns that women face during their postpartum recovery?
Every woman has her own experience of a vaginal birth (normal delivery). While some may feel alert, happy and physically, mentally and emotionally satisfied, others may feel bruised, battered, dazed and exhausted. Women often feel anything between these two extremes. Some of the most common postpartum issues faced by women are -
1. Abdominal Pain – This is one of the most common problems that women face during their postpartum recovery. This pain is also referred to as ‘After-pain’ since the uterus shrinks back into normal size and shape which makes the entire process painful in the lower belly. These pains can be sharp as well as dull and vary from person to person. Women often experience this type of pain while breastfeeding as it stimulates a special chemical in their body and causes the contraction of the uterus. Applying heat to a particular area can help in relieving pain. In case your pain increases, then you must inform your gynaecologist and seek professional help.
2. Constipation - The use of anaesthesia, antibiotics and hormonal changes may be one of the reasons why women often face constipation after childbirth. Increasing your water consumption and adding fibre-rich items to your diet can also help in dealing with constipation. In case you haven’t had a bowel movement for four days or more then you must contact your doctor.
3. Baby Blues - Hormonal changes among new mothers often leads to issues like postpartum depression. If you are experiencing severe hopelessness, then you should contact your doctor.
4. Haemorrhoids - Several women often experience painful swelling in their rectum veins due to the strain caused by pushing during delivery. This often leads to acute pain and bleeding after the bowel movement and also causes unbearable itching. If you are experiencing these symptoms then they may be a sign of haemorrhoids. In case it becomes unmanageable, then you can discuss your condition with your doctor.
5. Perineum soreness – The perineum is an area between the anus and vagina which tears during childbirth. Doctors also opt for a small incision in this area to create space for childbirth. In certain cases, both things often do not take place which leads to soring of the perineum due to which many women experience discomfort for several weeks during their postpartum phase. To reduce this type of pain, women can sit on an ice pack for 10 minutes several times a day. Additionally, women can also use a squirt bottle to apply warm water on the perineum after using the toilet. In case this soreness does not reduce with time, then you should contact your doctor.
6. Sore breasts and nipples - These are quite common among women in the first few days after childbirth. This usually happens because the baby is unable to latch the breast. A lactation expert can suggest different positions that can help in easy resolution and can ensure that the baby latches correctly. If this problem persists for a longer period then you must seek solutions as there are chances that your nipples will develop painful cracks that could sideline breastfeeding.
7. Hormonal imbalance and shifts – If you are a first-time mother then you may experience nightly sweating, mood swings and hair loss, however, you don’t have to worry as these conditions subside once the estrogen level in your body increases.
8. Weight Loss - With rising social media trends and celebrity-styled workouts and regimes almost every woman wants to reduce weight as quickly as possible after their delivery, However, this often requires several months and unhealthy practices without proper consultation can lead to a lot of complications. To reduce weight after your pregnancy, you should consider a balanced diet during your weight-reducing program and must consult with your dietician before adopting any regime.
9. Stitches - During your recovery phase, you should pay extra attention to your stitches as there is a huge chance of infections in these stitches. Usually, it takes 7-10 days to heal but with proper hygiene, you can avoid a lot of complications. To do so, you can use warm water cleansing that will help in ensuring that your stitches remain dry.
10. Vaginal lochia - Bleeding and discharge in C-section and a normal delivery is referred to as Vaginal lochia. It is a natural process as the body removes extra tissues and blood that were used for the nourishment of the baby. Women often experience a high amount of lochia in their first week or 10 days after their delivery.
11. Water Retention - Women often experience swelling in their body, hands, feet and legs due to water retention caused by a hormone called progesterone. While this usually goes away in a week, however, in case it gets worse then you must consult your doctor for treatment.
How can you effectively manage your postpartum recovery?
There are several ways through which you can ease your postpartum issues. These include -
- Use a heating pad or massage for pain management
- Apply ice for the first 24 hours after your delivery at regular intervals and take 20 min warm water bath to effectively heal your perineum
- Consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other fibre-rich food for proper bowel movement
- Use ice packs or warm compress and gently massage your breasts to overcome achy breasts
- Exercise- such as Kegel's exercise and strengthening pelvic floor to boost your recovery process
- Stay connected with your doctor.