The post-partum period refers to the 6-8 weeks after the delivery of your child. This can be an overwhelming time for the mother, as many physical and emotional changes will be occurring. Adjusting to life with your new baby will take time, and it is important to also care for yourself during this time. The physical care you need will largely depend whether you delivered vaginally or through caesarean section.
If there are no major complications after a vaginal birth the mother may stay just one night in the hospital. You will be monitored on:
- • Blood pressure
- • Heart rate
- • Vaginal bleeding
- • The firmness of the abdomen and shrinking of the uterus
- • Pain and discomfort from vaginal tearing
The mother may need to stay longer in the hospital after a caesarean section due to pain at the surgical site, and you could expect to stay 2-3 nights. Along with monitoring your blood pressure, heart rate and the size of your uterus, you may also feel nauseated or itchy due to some medication. Pain can make nursing difficult, but staff will aid you in this process should you need help.
You will be advised of several helpful remedies to aid your post-partum recovery after you are discharged from the hospital. These may include:
- • Warm baths to soothe the perineal areas and vulva if you had a vaginal delivery
- • Nutritious foods and fluid intake will promote milk production and help in your healing
- • Fibre-rich foods or if necessary, stool softeners or laxatives to ease discomfort during bowel movements
- • Regular light exercise to improve your mood, assist your healing and return to your pre-pregnancy weight
Your body will still be undergoing major changes post-partum and it is normal to feel very tired during this time. You will continue to bleed vaginally for approximately eight weeks after a vaginal delivery, though you should contact your doctor if it has a foul odour, you discharge any large blood clots, or you experience a high fever during this time. It is also normal for you to leak urine when laughing, coughing or sneezing for a few months after birth. Urinary incontinence will resolve itself as you heal, but if it does not after six months you should inform your doctor. With the hormonal changes in your body you might experience changes in your skin, such as pigmentation, or hair loss, which this is completely normal and will resolve itself as your body repairs.
Your body will take some time to recover post childbirth and this is a normal process, yet you should contact your doctor if you experience:
- • Deep vein thrombosis or blood clots in your legs
- • Discomfort when breastfeeding, breast soreness or infection
It is normal to feel sad or overwhelmed after delivery and it may be a feeling that passes quickly, though if it doesn’t, your doctor can refer you to a practitioner who specialises in postnatal depression. Postnatal depression is a common occurrence for women, and some men, and it is important to seek help to stabilise your mental health, as the condition may worsen if not recognised. Your body is experiencing massive changes in hormonal levels and a new baby will change your lifestyle immensely. Everyone will experience an adjustment period, though if you are feeling down or distressed most of the time, it is important to seek help.