Post-natal/post-partum care: What you should know
Post natal care or post partum care refers to the period soon after the delivery of the baby to the initial six-eight weeks. The period is also called as puerperium or puerperal period. Post natal care is as important as the prenatal care for the health of the mother.
The body goes through different physical and emotional changes during the post-partum period as it is getting back to non-pregnant condition again. It is the time you should have proper nutrition, rest and care. Similar to that of pregnancy symptoms, the post-partum changes will vary from woman to woman.
Physical changes in post partum period
After-pains: After the childbirth, you may experience after-pains caused by the shrinkage of the uterus after pregnancy. The pain might heighten during breast feeding as the oxytocin hormone contracts the uterus. It will take up to six weeks for the uterus to return to the normal size.
Vaginal discharge: There will be vaginal discharges which start as bloody and then turn to yellowish or whitish and slide away within 10-15 days post delivery.
Breast enlargement: The breasts will be enlarged and sore during the initial days of breastfeeding. It will be filled with milk which causes breast engorgement.
Sore muscles: The muscles in your arms, neck, jaw, etc will be swollen as a sign of strong effort put in the labour.
Vaginal soreness: You will experience soreness and discomfort in the perineal area after delivery for around five weeks.
Frequent urination: You may experience frequent urination and also discomfort while you urinate.
Hair loss: The elevated hormone levels during pregnancy will slide down after delivery. It will cause hair loss, skin pigmentation etc.
Weight loss: Your pregnancy weight gain includes weight of the baby, amniotic fluid, etc. as well. Now as it is out of your body, you may experience weight loss.
Post-partum care after vaginal delivery
Rest, nutrition, and care are essential during the post-partum period. Drink lots of fluids in the initial days after delivery. Eat plenty of healthy and nutritious food to regain your lost strength. Make sure you are eating iron-rich and fibre-rich food. Your doctor may advise your certain medication depending on your health after delivery. Rest is also important although your priority will be the baby now.
Proper diet and exercise is important to get back to your pre-pregnancy days. You may need slightly higher calories of food while your breastfeed. In vaginal deliveries, you can start doing mild exercises after two weeks after taking advice from the doctor.
Post-partum care after caesarean delivery
You should take proper care of yourself after a caesarean delivery. You need proper rest and maintain your activity levels low. You may take 4-6 weeks for recovery after the caesarean delivery. Lifting heavier things, using staircases frequently, etc are not suggested during the period. Do you post-partum check-ups at times, and check for signs of infection in the incision after delivery. Follow the instructions given by your doctor for fast recovery and a healthy life ahead.