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Postpartum Care After Normal Delivery

As if carrying children to term was not enough, mothers still have to contend with a number of postnatal ailments and discomforts. But dont despair, most of these are common and easy to remedy. By Marika Constantino

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The post-natal period covers the phase right after delivery and usually extends to six weeks after. Some also call it the postpartum period or puerperium. Due to the pregnancy, a lot of biological changes occur in your body. After giving birth, hormone levels and uterus size, for example, need to go back to their prepregnancy states. Much of the postnatal concerns have much to do with getting your old form back. Moreover, knowing what to expect will free you from possible panic or anxiety attacks when certain changes and symptoms arise. To help us gain more insight, Marinella Abat, an OB-gyne from St. Agnes General Hospital and VRP Medical Center, gives us the lowdown on the most common conditions that mothers cite and the general care that can be taken as soon as they arise.

Vaginal Soreness According to Dr. Abat, vaginal soreness is usually due to the lacerations and episiotomy repairs done to accommodate the delivery of the baby. This is usually resolved by perineal heat and analgesics. Try not to concern yourself too much with this; wounds will heal after about a week or two. To aid the healing process and tone your pelvic floor muscles, do the Kegel exercise. The Mayo Clinic outlines this as follows: Simply tighten your pelvic muscles as if youre stopping your stream of

urine. Starting about a day after delivery, try it for five seconds at a time, four or five times in a row. Repeat throughout the day.

Vaginal Discharge Dr. Abat says that this is also known as lochia. She adds, This comes from the uterus. Do keep in mind that the lochia will undergo changes throughout the postpartum period. In the first three to four days, the discharge is usually red in color. In the next three to four days, the discharge becomes pinkish, and after 10 days, it will become light yellow and creamy in color. The discharge commonly lasts for about four to eight weeks postpartum. In the event that the lochia is foulsmelling or becomes persistent, one should seek consultation right away. This could be due to poor healing, infection, or retained placental tissues.

Postnatal Contractions Unfortunately, even after delivery, mothers may still undergo some contractions. Do not be alarmed, says our OB. Contractions or after pains are usually because of the involution of the uterus. During the postpartum period, the uterus tries to expel the remaining fragments or blood clots as it returns to its normal pre-pregnant size and state. Sometimes breastfeeding can also bring about after-pains because of the release of certain chemicals. All these can be relieved by analgesics, Dr. Abat narrates.

Irregular Bowel Movements This may either be constipation or loose bowel movements. Constipation is commonly due to the patients inactivity, decreased intra-abdominal pressure after the delivery, and painful perineum, according to Dr. Abat. A diet rich in fiber with lots of water will help alleviate the situation. Exert effort to be as physically active as you can be after delivery. If need be, you can ask your doctor about stool softeners or laxatives. For women who went through prolonged labor, LBM is usually the main complaint. Kegel exercises can also help; however, relay longterm LBM to your doctor right away.

Weight Gain Yes, we all gain weight due to pregnancy and we would be more than happy to get rid of those unwanted pounds as soon as possible. Sad to say, this wont happen right after we give birth. Dr. Abat says, Immediate weight loss postpartum averages at 5 kg. As soon as you are able, getting into a healthy diet coupled with regular exercise will do the job, especially since the good doctor says that normal pre-pregnant weight is usually obtained six months after delivery.

Enlarged Breasts This is another sore point. Several days after delivery, breasts may become tender and heavy. Dr. Abat advises, Breast engorgement can be solved by frequent feeding or collection of milk. Please be aware that sometimes nipples obtain cracks and fissures because of the babys sucking; when this happens, all you have to do is to clean them with mild soap and water and try to rest that part of your breast for a short period. It would also be good for a new mom to get breastfeeding support to avoid sore nipples since this is caused by the improper latching of the baby to the breast.

Sources:
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Dr. Marinella Abat, ob-gynecologist, St. Agnes General Hospital and

VRP Medical Center o Website: mayoclinic.com

The Postpartum Period

The postpartum period -- which typically refers to the first six weeks or so after birth -- can be a pretty intense time. That's because you are going through a major process of adjustment as well as major process of physical healing and recovery. The following are some of the things that you can expect during the postpartum period:

You might experience something called the postpartum blues or the "baby blues" Related to the relative change in hormones that accompanies the process of birth, the baby blues can make the postpartum period -- or at least those first few days or weeks after birth -- full of emotional intensity and reactivity. The postpartum blues are considered to be normal part of the postpartum experience. Click here to learn more about the postpartum blues.

You are recovering from the birth process and ALSO trying to keep your tiredness and fatigue at a manageable level This, of course, is not an easy thing to do with a new baby who needs to eat every few hours. The physical toll of the postpartum period can also be especially difficult if you've got the additional challenges of a colicky baby, health issues, other children, and/or lots of other things on your plate to deal with. Click here for more information about postpartum fatigue.

You are figuring out how to take care of your new baby Every baby is different and every situation is different. As such, things often don't go "by the book" or totally as expected. Developing a sense of confidence and competence in your ability to take care of your baby is not only a big part of those first postpartum weeks, it is also one of the main components of the adjustment process. Click here to learn more about the main tasks of the postpartum adjustment process.

You are getting to know your baby, working to develop that feeling of "being in love" with them This is another major component of the adjustment process , and is a key focus during the postpartum period. Importantly, most moms don't fall in love with their babies right away -- it can easily take a month or so before you really feel like you've bonded with your baby. This, for the most part, is totally normal. Sometimes, though, if that feeling of connection is just not developing, it can be a signal that something more serious is going on -- possibly something like postpartum depression. If you are concerned about postpartum depression, or feel that you are not coping, please see your health care provider. You can also complete a simple self-screening for PPD by clicking here.

You are trying to deal with the sudden loss of control, loss of routine, frustration, and sense of whelm (sometimes even overwhelm) that accompanies the birth of a new child This is a big part of what the early stage of the adjustment process all about -- just working to "get a handle on" the new responsibilities and realities of being a mother to a new baby, along with prioritizing your own physical recovery. Click here to learn more about the different phases of the adjustment process.

Labor,Delivery,and Postpartum Period - Topic Overview Is this topic for you? This topic provides basic information about normal labor and delivery and about the postpartum period. If you need information on pregnancy or other types of childbirth, see the following topics:

Pregnancy Preterm Labor Cesarean Section Breech Position and Breech Birth Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) What is labor and delivery? At the end of the third trimester of pregnancy, your body will begin to show signs that it is time for your baby to be born. The process that leads to the birth of your baby is called labor and delivery. Every labor and delivery includes certain stages, but each birth is unique. Even if you have had a baby before, the next time will be different.

Giving birth to a baby is hard work. Thats why its called labor. It can also be scary, thrilling, and unpredictable. Learning all you can ahead of time will help you be ready when your time comes.

What are the stages of labor? There are three stages of labor. The first stage of labor includes early labor and active labor. The second stage continues the active labor and lasts through the birth, with the baby traveling down and out of the birth canal. The third stage is after the birth, when the placenta is delivered.

During early labor, the muscles of the uterus start to tighten (contract) and then relax. These contractions help to thin (efface) and open (dilate) the cervix so the baby can pass through the birth canal. (See a picture of cervical effacement .) Early contractions are usually irregular, spaced from 5 to 20 minutes apart, and they usually last less than a minute.

Early labor can be uncomfortable and long, sometimes lasting 2 to 3 days. Walking, watching TV, listening to music, or taking a warm shower may help you manage the discomfort.

During the first part of active labor, contractions become strong and regular. They happen every 2 or 3 minutes and last longer than a minute. This is the time to go to the hospital or birthing center.

The pain of contractions may be moderate or intense. Having a support person, trying different positions, or using breathing exercises may help you cope. Many women ask for pain medicine during this time. Even if you plan on natural childbirth, it can be comforting to know that you can get pain relief if you want it.

After the cervix is fully effaced and dilated, your body changes to "push" mode. During this second stage of active labor, the baby is born. Pushing to deliver the baby may take from a few minutes to several hours. It is likely to be faster if you have had a baby before.