Tuesday 2 May 2017

After birth comes the postpartum period. Here are things that may happen to a new mum after childbirth

Pregnancy is a beautiful thing but can also mean a lot of stress for you and your body. There is so much information (both good and bad) available about pregnancy and what it may entail.  At the end of pregnancy is what is usually called the Postpartum period filled with its own unique set of challenges. Pregnancy can so mess with your body that you fail to recognize your postpartum self. Some new mums get scared of their new bodies and often go back to their doctors with complaints  about things that often are normal.

Below are few things that could happen to you postpartum

(1) After birth contractions. Contrary to what many mums think, uterine contractions do not end in the labour room with the birth of your baby, it continues as the uterus tries getting back to its pre-pregnancy state. The contractions can get really painful and many mothers report increasingly painful afterbirth contractions with each subsequent child.  You tend to notice it more when you put your newborn to your breasts for feeding because a baby's suck triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin  which causes uterine contraction.   If the contractions get too painful , you could ask your midwife or doctor for some pain relief. But do not be alarmed as it is quite normal.

(2) A weak pelvic floor.  This is said to affect about one third of  new mums who had a vaginal birth. It could cause urine leaks when you cough or sneeze. Do not panic when it happens to you, it usually gets better by the time your postpartum period is over; that is 6 weeks after birth.

(3) Bleeding : Many mums-to-be know women bleed after birth but majority do not know to what extent the bleeding occurs. Woman, you will pass out a good amount of blood that you find yourself changing maternity pads about 5 times the first day . The blood may also come in thick clots, thicker than what most people see monthly as menstrual blood. Don't worry, you aren't hemorrhaging, at least your doctor or midwife would check the color and intensity of your bleeds at intervals the day after delivery and beyond to ensure it is normal. They may also inquire about the number of used pads you've disposed, and so long as they say it's okay then you should relax. The bleeding reduces with each passing day but could last for weeks. You will be needing maternity pads for the first few days after birth after which you can use sanitary pads when the bleeding has reduced to what you feel sanitary pads can handle.

(4). Breastfeeding may be difficult. The image most mums have of breastfeeding a child is that of simply putting the child to your breasts and voilĂ , the baby starts sucking. Well, after delivery you will know it is hard work. Though nature made it a bit easy by equipping new born babies with the 'rooting reflex' that ensures when their cheeks are stroked, they turn towards the direction of the stroke making sucking  motions. But you still have to ensure you get a correct latch else you will end up with sore nipples that make you cringe once it's time to breastfeed. You could ask your midwife to show you how to achieve a correct latch.
Image result for correct latch
Source: https://themilkmeg.com

Engorged breasts could also be a huge challenge that you find yourself begging your newborn to suck. When the mature milk finally comes in, you may also grapple with excess supply especially if you are practicing exclusive breastfeeding. Nursing pads can come in handy at such times.

(5) Putting in a diaper correctly could be challenging and could cause tear-jerking accidents. Many mums assume wearing a baby a diaper is easy till they need to do it. A seemingly simple thing could continually ruin your day or night till you learn to do it right. And newborn poo is not a sight you will love on your dress or mattress. If possible, practice putting a diaper on a baby before yours arrive to avoid embarrassing or tear-jerking accidents involving baby poo.

(6) Your belly will be big for a while and could look quite horrible like a deflated, rumpled  balloon. It will also look quite dark. It is not usually a beautiful sight but don't worry it clears gradually. Reversing the effects of a process that took about 9 months does not happen overnight. You should learn to appreciate your postpartum body because it is your warrior scar; a reminder that you partook in the miracle of creating a human like you.

(7) Postpartum blues. Many women expect to feel elated after birth. Well it isn't always the case. Some even report not wanting to hold their babies at first. Relax, the love for your baby isn't always as mushy and immediate as we often imagine it to be, it can come after a while. You may also not feel 100 percent normal and could cry easily without provocation. This can be quite normal and is called Postpartum blues. Get as much help and assistance as you can lest you feel overwhelmed. But if you ever start nursing thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please seek medical help immediately as it may have gone beyond postpartum blues into postpartum depression which can get really bad when ignored.

(8) If you had a vaginal birth, you will definitely feel so sore below, this could affect hitherto easy practices like pooing and even urinating. But fear not, the pain subsides overtime.

(6) Hemorrhoids. Some women are left with souvenirs of their pregnancy and birth in the form of Hemorrhoids. It is said to occur more in women who birthed quite heavy babies. Well, it disappears with time but if it doesn't, take it as one of the evidences of your partaking in the miracle or creation.

You may also want to read the following
Refuting some myths surrounding Exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria

Colostrum; baby's first vaccine

Infant gas pain; that great source of distress to newborns and their mums

Some tips on newborn care

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