Pregnancy is definitely a new and beautiful phase in a woman’s life. During this time, the woman’s body goes through multiple changes during the nine months and post-delivery, extra care is needed for the body to get back to its pre-pregnancy state. The following are some tips to care for your post-partum body immediately after delivery and through the first six weeks after childbirth.
- Perineal soreness: The area between the vagina and the anus stretches a lot during labour and can be sore for quite a while. In some women, this area may even be cut to enable easy passing of the baby (episiotomy). This would be more painful and can be managed with topical creams, ice packs, Kegel exercises and warm baths.
- Uterine shrinkage: The uterus enlarges to accommodate the developing baby shrinks back to its original stage after delivery. This causes severe cramps, especially during the first six weeks and if required, pain medications can be taken for the cramps.
- Breast fullness: The breasts fill with milk after birth to enable feeding, and the woman feels engorged. This is relieved with feeding, but if the baby is not on mother’s milk, warm soaks on the breasts and a supportive bra can help. It will stop once the breasts stop making milk.
- Constipation: This is common post pregnancy, and so foods rich in fibre should be consumed. Lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains should be included in the diet. If required, stool softeners can be used.
- Body swelling: In preparation for the delivery, the hands and feet swell due to fluid accumulation. This naturally subsides over the first week to 10 days. Lying on the left side and keeping the feet elevated can help.
- Urination problem: Experiencing a burning sensation or pain while urinating and inability to start or stop a stream of urine are common urination problems, especially immediately after childbirth, which will subside in a couple of weeks. Drinking lots of water, Kegel exercises and warm baths are helpful measures that can be undertaken.
- Fatigue: Taking care of the newborn can leave you drained. Get adjusted to the baby’s routine and try to sleep with your baby. Get friends and family to help you take care of your child so that you don’t feel the entire strain.
- Emotional health: Changes in the hormone levels again affects your emotional health, so try and stay positive. Post-partum depression is very common in women, as they feel overwhelmed with caring for the newborn.
It is important to realise that while pregnancy is an important phase, it is a natural process. The body will adapt to these short-lived changes and allow you to bond with your baby by staying close to your child, responding to its needs, spending time together, and taking care of your newborn. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Gynaecologist.