Your body has undergone significant changes during your pregnancy, and while these are over, new changes will take place. The postpartum period, which starts right after childbirth till about eight weeks, is a time where the body begins to self-heal. Knowing what to expect can better prepare you for the physical and emotional changes that comes from post-pregnancy. A healthy, happy mother equals a healthy, happy baby!
Caesarian section (C-Section)
C-section is a surgical childbirth. You will be required to stay longer in the hospital for recovery and will feel pain and discomfort at the surgical site. It may hurt to sit up and nurse your baby so seek help from medical staff, who will also teach you how to clean and care for your incision wound upon your return home.
If you had a vaginal birth, you will either experience perineal tearing or an episiotomy (a procedure that widens the vagina opening for childbirth with a surgical cut that is then stitched with self-dissolving sutures). The wound may burn initially so use a pain relief spray prescribed by your doctor, or apply a cold compress to the area. Also, sitting on a soft cushion is recommended over an inflatable “donut” seat.
Vaginal bleeding is normal. Lochia is made up of blood, mucus and uterine tissue. As the uterus gets firmer and smaller, the amount of bleeding decreases. If you have very large clots coming out, soak a large maxi pad within an hour, develop a high fever, or if there’s a strange odour to your bleeding, seek medical treatment.
Your first few bowel movements may be uncomfortable, especially if you had perineal tear or an episiotomy. A diet of fibre and lots of water can help soften the stool for easier passage. Pour warm water over your bottom or use a sitz bath to maintain personal hygiene and relieve pain or itching.
Due to excess weight and over stretching of the pelvic floor, some women may leak urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh over the next few months as the muscles are less taut than before. Kegel exercises can help you regain control over these muscles and reduce this problem. To perform such exercises and locate these muscles, simply imagine that you are withholding the flow of your urine.
You may experience massive hair loss from about the third to four month after delivery. This is only a temporary phase due to the decrease in oestrogen level. You can experiment with a new haircut, add texture or simply boost the volume of your hair at its roots with a good volumising mousse.
Baby blues are a normal hormonal reaction. You will feel emotional and sad. Mood swings after childbirth are not uncommon but should not be ignored. There are severe forms of postpartum depression so speak to your spouse before baby is born and educate him to look out for warning signals in you. Be self-vigilant as well and don’t be hesitant or afraid to voice your concerns if you notice little or no improvement in your mood.