While most women take great care of their routine, health and diet during their pregnancy, they can sometimes ignore their health after delivery which can cause serious complications in some cases. Postnatal care is very important for every new mum.
Have you been blessed with a wonderful new arrival and are now in the seventh heaven of delight, in spite of all the exhaustion caused by giving birth? It is indeed a wonderful feeling, and a delight to hold your little one in your arms. But did you know that you still need to take special care of yourself after childbirth, just as you exercised special caution during your pregnancy?
Postnatal care is taking care of the mother after delivery. It starts just after child birth and lasts for up to eight weeks. The body of a new mother undergoes huge changes after giving birth and there is a high risk of some problems occurring and leading to complications if special care is not taken.
Just after giving birth the body of a new mother should be checked frequently, to identify any signs of changes in the body which might cause problems later. It is very important for you, being a new mother, to take care of your diet and health after going home from the hospital.
If you detect any symptoms of an infection or a complication, consult your doctor at once before the condition worsens. You will need to make an appointment with a postnatal doctor within 6 to 8 weeks of giving birth.
Immediate Care after Delivery
Every mother needs special care after delivery. The level of care also depends on whether it was a natural birth or a C section.
If you experienced a vaginal birth then like most other mothers, you will need to spend one night at the hospital provided there are no complications. You will feel great exhaustion and the medical staff on the ward will regularly check your heart rate, blood pressure and level of bleeding after delivery. Any complications during this time will be addressed promptly.
If you had an episiotomy or experienced tearing during birth, then your wounds will take some time to heal. Excessive bleeding due to any minor or major complication would also necessitate surgeries in some cases.
The medical staff will continue to check if your uterus is shrinking and getting firmer. Breastfeeding as early as possible helps with this process. As a new mother, you will experience some mild contractions as the uterus changes.
Some vaginal bleeding is quite normal and as the uterus gets firmer and shrinks the bleeding will decrease. Excessive bleeding with clots, high fever and a strange odor in bleeding are all signs you need to watch out for as they might be signals of a complication.
New mothers may also experience problems in urinating just after delivery, as a lot of pressure is exerted on the bladder throughout the pregnancy, labor and the final delivery of the baby. Watch out for signs of a urinary tract infection and consult your doctor at once.
All new mothers who have undergone a C section will be obliged to stay at the hospital for at least two to three days. As the C section is a surgical procedure, you will experience pain from the site of the surgery after the numbness wears off. You might also feel groggy and nauseous as a result of the procedure. In the meantime, the medical staff will check and record your pulse, blood pressure and the amount of vaginal bleeding.
If you had a C section, then you might only be able to sip some water and some ice chips for up to 8 hours after the procedure and may find it hard to eat anything at all. The catheter is removed after one day and it is important that you try and sit up with assistance if necessary, as it speeds up the healing process. Pain medication is given to help bear the soreness and smarting of the surgical site.
Postnatal Care in Your Home
After coming home, you will still feel very tired and exhausted, as your body will continue to go through some major changes throughout the six to eight weeks right after your delivery.
Take Care of Your Diet, Health and Sleep
It is important that you take care of your health after being discharged from the hospital. Try to take a nap while the baby sleeps and recover your strength. Make sure that you don’t ignore your diet and drink plenty of fluids in the upcoming weeks. Fluid intake is crucial to healthy healing and will ensure a timely recovery with no complications.
Relax and Soothe Your Body
Use a spray bottle of warm water to soothe the perineum and the vulva. After twenty-four hours, you will be able to take a shallow bath to freshen up. If you experience pain, ask your doctor for some pain medication. It is important that you only take medication already approved by your doctor.
Do Kegel Exercises
During delivery, there may have been damage caused to the urethra and the bladder, which might cause you to leak some urine for the next couple of months, whenever you sneeze, cough or laugh. Some Kegel exercises will help you regain control over the bladder muscles and reduce the intensity of the problem.
New mothers might also feel pain during bowel movement and a careful diet having plenty of fibre is the solution to the problem. Fecal incontinence can be handled well with Kegel exercises.
Breastfeeding might prove to be difficult, especially if you experience discomfort or have any infections. It is important to get advice from a lactation consultant if the problem persists. Skin changes and hair loss are a normal hormonal reaction after childbirth, which improves within the following six months.
Many new mothers feel sad and emotional a couple of days after their delivery. It is quite normal, but if the condition persists and you are unable to take care of the baby then it is important to contact the doctor and seek their professional advice.
It is critically important for the health and wellbeing of a new mother and her baby that special care is taken of the mother after delivery, both at home and in the hospital. To avoid any complications, it is important to follow up on all appointments with your doctor, in the six to eight weeks of your postnatal period.
© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.
Browse other Parenting Guide articles from Nanny Options
or keep up to date with us on Facebook.