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POSTPARTUM CARE

What care is needed after delivery?
When can normal activities be resumed?
How to return to pre-pregnancy weight?
When can I have sex again?
When does the menstrual cycle resume?
What are the postpartum blues?
 
Monday, 14 September 2009
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
 
What care is needed after delivery?
What care is needed after delivery?Postpartum is the period of time after the birth of a baby when the body is changing back to normal. It lasts about 6 weeks or until the uterus returns to its normal size.

The following are important components of postpartum care:

Rest: You need rest. However, with caring for and feeding a new baby, there is not much time to rest. You can get help from friends and family and have extra time to care for the baby and yourself. Because you must feed the baby day and night, you may need to change your sleeping schedule to get enough rest. Try to sleep while the baby sleeps. Morning and afternoon naps can be very helpful.

Pain relief: If you delivered the baby normally through the birth canal, pain in the area between the rectum and vagina is common. To relieve the pain and prevent infection, you can sit in a warm bath, put cold packs on the area, or put warm water on the area with a squirt bottle or sponge. It is also important to wipe yourself from the front to back after a bowel movement to prevent infection.

Bleeding and discharge:
You will have vaginal discharge for 2 to 6 weeks after delivery. Sometimes it may last longer. It may come out in gushes or more evenly like a menstrual period. The discharge will start out red and slowly change to pink and finally a yellow-white color.

Constipation and haemorrhoids:
It is common to be constipated or have discomfort from haemorrhoids after delivery. Ointments and sprays can be used to help reduce swelling in the area of the rectum. For constipation try eating foods rich in fiber and drinking lots of liquids.

Breast soreness: Milk will come in about 2 to 4 days after the child is born. This may make breasts very large, hard, and sore. This will get better once you start a breast-feeding routine. If you are not breast-feeding, your breasts may become large or painful while you are waiting for your milk to dry up. To help with pain and discomfort, wear a well-fitting support bra and put ice packs on your breasts
When can normal activities be resumed?
When can normal activities be resumed?If you had a normal delivery without any problems, you can get back to doing most of your normal activities right away. You should still take it easy and avoid heavy lifting, and a lot of stair climbing for the first couple of weeks. If you have had a caesarean section (C-section), you will need to avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks.

Exercise is one of the best ways to lose weight, get more energy, relieve stress, and build strength. Unless you had a C-section, difficult birth, or other pregnancy problem, you can usually start exercising as soon as you feel up to it. If you have had a C-section, you can usually start exercising in 6 weeks.
How to return to pre-pregnancy weight?
How to return to pre-pregnancy weight?During birth, one loses about 12 to 14 pounds. However, this may still leave some weight to lose, depending on how much weight you gained during pregnancy. Losing this weight takes time. It takes most women 8 to 12 months to return to their normal weight. Losing the weight slowly is healthy and natural. The key is to eat healthy and exercise. After the first few months of eating right and exercising, you can begin a healthy weight-loss programme if necessary. If you are breast-feeding, you should make sure you are still eating at least 1800 calories a day. Because breast-feeding uses a lot of calories, it usually helps women lose their pregnancy weight.
When can I have sex again?
When can I have sex again?The number of weeks you should wait before having sex depends on your specific situation. If you had an episiotomy, you should wait at least 3 to 4 weeks for it to heal. If you had a C-section you should wait at least 4 weeks so your cuts can heal. Because it takes approximately 6 weeks for your uterus to return to normal size, many recommend that all new mothers wait a full 6 weeks. It is normal to feel uncomfortable at first when you start having sex again after childbirth.

Talk to your doctor about methods of birth control to be sued after the birth of your baby. The method that may be best for you depends on the type of delivery you had, how you are recovering, and if you are breast-feeding.
When does the menstrual cycle resume?
When does the menstrual cycle resume?If you are not breast-feeding, you may start having menstrual periods 3 to 10 weeks after delivery. If you are breast-feeding, there is no specific time when your periods will start again. It may not happen until after the first 6 months of breast-feeding, but it could happen earlier. Some women do not get their period again until they stop breast-feeding.
What are the postpartum blues?
What are the postpartum blues?Many physical and emotional changes occur during pregnancy and after you give birth. These changes can leave you feeling sad, anxious, afraid, or confused. These feelings are called the baby blues and usually start right after the baby is born and go away within a week. However, for some women, these feelings do not go away and they may get worse. When this happens it is called postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can start right after the baby is born or begin weeks later. It can be a serious problem and needs treatment.
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