Childbirth is indeed a very difficult (but natural) process that a woman’s body does go through. Many soon-to-be mothers do adequate research and preparation for pregnancy and delivery, but while this is important, it should not stop there. Knowing what to do (and what not to do), not just before and during, but also after delivery, is equally important.
What to expect after normal delivery?
One’s uterus will slowly contract back to its pre-pregnancy size during the first 2 to 6 weeks and will also be accompanied by menstrual-like cramps. This does not mean that one’s post-pregnancy tummy will also shrink back. The extra fat around one’s middle, one’s abdominal muscles, and the stretched skin will probably require more time and work to go back to its pre-pregnancy size.
Expect to have 2 to 3 days of vaginal bleeding similar to when you have a heavy period. This should gradually decrease over the next weeks with the color changing from red to pink/brown. There may still be some spotting 4 to 6 weeks after delivery.
One will experience vaginal soreness whether one had an episiotomy, a natural tear, or even if one did not have both. Expect this soreness to last anywhere from a day to a few weeks.
DO’s of Post-Natal Care
- Let one’s doctor or midwife know if one’s experience any sudden increase in bleeding or if the blood one is passing suddenly becomes bright red.
- Sit on a pillow or even a padded ring.
- Place ice wrapped in a thin piece of cloth on one’s perineum for the first few days. This will also help relieve the soreness.
- Shower every day to clean one’s perineum.
- Change one’s sanitary pad at least every 4 hours to lower the risk of infection.
- Move slowly and carefully. One would not like one’s wound to accidentally open again.
- Get out of bed by rolling to one’s side before getting up.
- Lie down every few hours in order to relieve the pressure that is usually on one’s perineum when one is in a sitting or standing position.
- Draw in one’s pelvic floor when trying to get up from a sitting position or to sit down.
- Practice good posture by keeping one’s back straight. This also relieves the pressure on one’s perineum.
- Try to urinate every 3 to 4 hours. One may pour warm water over one’s perineum while urinating.
- Lean forward when trying to poop. One may use a piece of clean tissue paper or sanitary napkin in order to press firmly but gently on one’s stitches while one is trying to poop.
- Try gentle pelvic floor exercises. This will no doubt help strengthen one’s pelvic muscles but remember not to strain and to just go for gentle holds as well as pushes during the first weeks.
- Drink lots of water. This will also help soften one’s stool, making them easier to pass.
- Eat foods that are no doubt high in fiber. This will also definitely ensure that one’s stool is soft and easy to pass.
- See one’s doctor at around 6 weeks after giving birth for one’s post-natal check.
Important: One should call one’s doctor if one experiences high fever, or if one’s wound or one’s discharge has a foul odor.
DON’Ts of Post-Natal Care
1. Do not go swimming until one’s bleeding has stopped. Swimming increases the chances of exposure to bacteria.
2. Do not use tampons until after one has seen one’s doctor for one’s post-natal check.
3. Do not make sudden movements.
4. Do not strain or lift/carry heavy objects.
5. Do not strain when trying to poop. The muscles one makes use of for pooping are the same muscles that one overexerts during childbirth.
6. Do not engage in high impact exercises as well as activities. No matter how quickly one wants to get rid of the bulges in one’s tummy, one’s body does need time to recover, so the exercise will have to wait.
7. Do not wear clothes that are tight around one’s perineal area. Not only will these be uncomfortable, but it will also increase the risk of infection.
8. Do not have sex until after one has seen one’s doctor for one’s post-natal check.
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