How To Take Care Of Your Body After Giving Birth: Challenges Of Postpartum Care

Bringing a new life into the world is a beautiful experience, but it can also be physically and emotionally taxing on a woman’s body. The postpartum period, which lasts from childbirth until six weeks after delivery, is crucial for a new mother’s recovery. During this period, a woman’s body undergoes numerous changes as it tries to return to its pre-pregnancy state. However, postpartum care can be challenging for many new mothers, and it’s essential to know how to take care of your body during this time.

Dr Manju Gupta, Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida lists down the challenges of postpartum care as well as shares tips on how to navigate them.

Physical changes and discomfort

After giving birth, a woman’s body experiences numerous physical changes that can be uncomfortable or painful. These changes can include vaginal soreness, perineal tears, cesarean section incision pain, and hemorrhoids. Additionally, a woman’s uterus may still be enlarged and tender, and she may experience breast engorgement or leaking milk.

Eating healthy, balanced meals that include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has to be in priority. You should not compare your weight loss progress to those of other new mothers because everyone has a different rate of losing weight. Since breastfeeding increases your daily calorie burn, it can speed up the process of getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight.

To manage physical discomfort during the postpartum period, new mothers can take the following steps:

  • Use warm compresses or sitz baths to soothe vaginal soreness or perineal tears.
  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and pain around the incision site for cesarean section delivery.
  • Wear supportive bras or nursing pads to manage breast engorgement or milk leakage.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as directed by a healthcare provider.

Major challenges and changes that the body undergoes postpartum

A few days after giving birth, your breasts will be filled with milk. Although the swelling, or engorgement, can be uncomfortable, this is a normal process. Engorgement does get better with time. Apply a warm or cold compress to your breasts to help with the discomfort. As your body adjusts, sore nipples from breastfeeding typically go away. To reduce pain, apply nipple cream.

Constipation: Drink plenty of water and eat foods high in fiber to encourage bowel movements. Discuss safe medications with your physician. Fiber, as well as over-the-counter creams and sitting in a sitz bath, can also help with hemorrhoids. Problems with urinating after birth can be reduced by drinking water. Pelvic muscles can be worked upon with the help of Kegel Exercises.

Changes in the pelvic floor: The perineum is the area between your rectum and vagina. It extends and frequently tears during birth. A doctor may occasionally cut this area to aid labor. You can assist this region with recuperating after your conveyance by doing Kegel exercises, applying cool packs enveloped by towels, and sitting on a cool pad.

Sweating: Constant sweating during the night postpartum can happen quite frequently due to hormonal changes in the body.

Uterine pain: Postpartum shrinking of the uterus can cause pain which eventually comes down. For extreme cases, it is recommended to consult your doctor about it.

Vaginal Discharge: Two to four weeks after giving birth, the most frequent form of vaginal discharge appears. In the process, your body eliminates the blood and tissue from your uterus. Use disposable sanitary pads while the discharge continues.

Do not use tampons or douche until your four- to six-week postpartum checkup or until your doctor tells you to. If you take these items soon after giving birth, your chance of getting an infection of the uterus may increase. If your vaginal discharge smells bad, let your doctor know. Although awful spotting may continue for your first week after delivery, heavy bleeding is not typical. If you experience excessive vaginal bleeding, such as filling a sanitary pad in a matter of hours, call your doctor.

Soreness in the vaginal area: The wound may ache for a few weeks if your doctor made an incision or you experienced a vaginal tear during delivery. Deeper tears could take longer to heal. As you recover, this will make you feel better:

  • Lay down on a cushion or padded ring.
  • To cool the region between your vaginal entrance and the anus (perineum), wrap a cold witch hazel pad between two sanitary napkins.
  • While passing urine, use a press jug to apply warm water to the perineum.
  • Lie in a warm pool that is just deep enough to cover your buttocks and hips for five minutes. Use cold water if you believe it will be more mitigating.
  • Use a painkiller you have on prescription.

Apart from the above mentioned key challenges, there are other things to keep in mind for a new mother. First month after having the baby can sometimes be overwhelming. While taking care of your baby may seem to consume all of your time, remember to take care of yourself as well. There is some truth to the expression “if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your baby,” which you may have heard. After giving birth, you’ll need to remember to take care of your own health by doing a few things.

Some physical guidelines to keep in mind

Simple ways to take care of your child: Don’t add learning about your baby’s needs to your list of things to accomplish; it’s challenging enough to figure out your baby’s schedule and needs in the first few weeks. It is not necessary for your baby to have a bath everyday. Instead, use wet wipes to daily clean your baby’s hands, face and diaper region.

Limit your stair climbing: In the first several weeks, you should try to reduce your stair climbing. Try to limit your everyday travels up and down the stairs while you’re recovering.

Avoiding laborious tasks: During your rehabilitation, you should refrain from carrying anything heavier than your child. This is particularly crucial if you gave birth by C-section.

Hand hygiene: You should routinely wash your hands, despite the fact that it may seem unimportant. Prior to caring for your child, clean up after using the toilet, after changing the diaper on your child, and before.

Resting: Giving birth is tough work, and chances are you didn’t get much sleep in the hospital. During the first few weeks following delivery, you should get as much sleep as you can. When your baby is sleeping, try to get some sleep or rest. With this rest, you’ll feel better.