The postpartum period (period after giving birth) is a time when you physically and emotionally – yes both, again – move through changes after delivering your baby. At the same time, you’re learning how to deal with the fact that you’re now a mother, and that you and your partner will be taking care of the smallest and newest part of the family. Believe me, none of that would be easy, which is why being aware of postpartum care is essential for you right now. Don’t let yourself get lost in all the changes. Here’s a quick guide of postpartum care for mothers!
PHYSICAL CHANGES & HOW TO COPE WITH THEM:
1. Breast Swelling and Afterpains.
Days after giving birth, your breasts would fill with milk and you’ll feel some swelling and tenderness. You may also feel afterpains after breastfeeding. These are crampy contractions but are signs that your body is working properly.
- It would eventually become more comfortable if you keep feeding your baby regularly.
- To ease discomfort, apply a warm or cold compress to your breasts to reduce the swelling.
2. Toilet Time.
Since your uterus has been accustomed to the heavy weight during pregnancy, the sudden disappearance of that weight would have your body adjust again. Eating high-fiber food would regularize bowel activity, as well as drinking plenty of water.
3. Pelvic Floor Changes.
The area between your rectum and vagina is the perineum or the perineal area. Most of the time, it tears during birth, and the stitches may become uncomfortable while they heal. However, even without stitches, the area around your vagina may feel bruised and swollen. To help the process of healing, you can:
- Always keep the area clean with soap and water during bathing/shows.
- Ice the area with cold packs wrapped in towels to help reduce the swelling.
- Sitting on a pillow.
- Use a plastic squeeze bottle (or bidet if you have one in your restroom) to gently squirt water as you urinate.
- Do Kegel exercises to tighten and release the vaginal muscles and increase the flow of blood to the area.
4. Uterine Pain.
Cramping can be caused by the shrinking of the uterus, but don’t worry. The pain would subside over time. However, you can ask for a medication from your doctor for the pain as well.
5. Vaginal Discharge.
This is normal, and you may experience it for two to four weeks after giving birth. Wear sanitary napkins until it stops, however, it’s advised to go without a pad for at least an hour each day to allow air circulation.
PHYSICAL HEALTH CARE
While dealing with your body changes and adjustments, you’ll also need to look out for your physical health.
- Rest whenever you can and sleep when the baby sleeps.
- Avoid stair climbing as much as possible as well as lifting anything heavier than your baby.
- Save steps and time by having your baby’s bed and needs near you.
- Ask for help from your family and friends when you need to, especially for heavy household chores or buying items from the store.
- Taking a walk and doing simple exercises would be a big help as well.
Besides physical health care, having a healthy diet to support your postpartum care for yourself is essential not just for you, but for breastfeeding your baby as well.
- For postnatal care, continue taking your vitamins daily as well as eating healthy meals.
- It’s best to avoid alcohol and caffeine intake during this period as well.
- Eating grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein foods would be the advisable ones.
- Drinking fluids, such as water and milk, would help you refresh the body fluids that your body releases.
If you’re questioning yourself right now of all the doubting and other feelings you’re experiencing right now, it’s normal. However, you need to distinguish the difference if you’re having baby blues or if it’s already postpartum depression.
- Baby blues are caused by major hormonal changes, and it may include: sadness, mood changes, unexplained crying, irritability, insomnia, and restlessness. However, these won’t last very long.
- Postpartum depression, on the other hand, can be caused by a familial or personal history of depression, traumatic birth experience, or stressors during the last few months of pregnancy. Its symptoms are extreme mood swings, loneliness, exhaustion, irrationality, aggression, and feelings of anxiousness. Some moms even have thoughts of harming themselves or their babies.
MENTAL HEALTH CARE
- It’s okay to cry if you want to.
- Talk and listen to your partner about parenthood and discuss how you’ll both be raising your baby.
- Invite someone from your family or circle of friends to visit you at home. This would help you catch up with them and they can help you with your household chores as well.
- Get out of the house. Go for walks and alone time to give yourself a breather.
- Be good to yourself. Stop focusing on being the perfect wife, mother, or having the perfect home. Take things at your own pace each day and reward yourself for getting through the day.
- Find your rhythm with your baby. This would help you ease into the motherhood phase and help you find out how you can better bond with him/her.
- Do not punish yourself for pregnancy weight gain and aim for a drastic weight loss after giving birth. Eating healthy and having simple daily exercises would get you back in shape in no time.
Motherhood and building a family are never easy. Postpartum care may sometimes even feel like a chore to you. But treasure the moments when you see your partner carry your baby as if he/she was a precious gemstone. Treasure the moments when your baby suddenly grasps your finger and you catch yourself smiling and crying. By the end of a tiring day, despite the body changes and the cycle of postnatal care you had to go through, you’ll know. It’s all worth it.