Pregnancy is an exciting life event, but it leads to dramatic changes in the mother’s body. The road to recovery isn’t a simple and short process for all women. Several changes and conditions emerge after childbirth, and women adjust during their recovery. Learning about the 7 challenges of recovery help postpartum women to become educated about what to expect.
1. Abdominal Weight Gain and Distortion
Women experience weight gain during pregnancy, and it’s difficult to lose weight quickly. Healing after pregnancy involves the uterus returning to its normal size and eliminating large blood clots. After giving birth, the distortion of the abdomen is common. Doctors recommend low-impact workouts for getting the abdomen back in shape. Shape-wear helps women confine the abdomen during the healing process. Restraining the waist and abdomen strengthens abdominal muscles and offers adequate support for postpartum women.
Yoga is a low-impact choice that stretches and strengthens the pelvic floor and abdomen. Doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks after birth to start any exercise program. Women who want to learn more about their options or plan a workout can consult a local gym or a personal trainer.
2. Sore and Lactating Breasts
Sore and lactating breasts cause discomfort whether women breastfeed or not. Medications were the answer for drying up milk many years ago, but the medications are too risky today. Women turn to more natural solutions for managing swollen and painful breasts after childbirth.
Manufacturers offer several creams for nipple soreness because of breastfeeding. Nursing pads collect breast milk and prevent it from wetting the woman’s blouse. Heating pads provide comfort and relieve soreness, and women wear supportive bras to manage the weight of lactating breasts. Some women recommend placing cabbage leaves in the bra to soothe the pain and discomfort. Cabbage leaves are also a natural method of stopping lactation for women who aren’t breastfeeding.
3. Water Retention and Digestive Disruptions
Water retention and digestive disruptions are common after childbirth. Postpartum oedema is common after childbirth, and it goes away naturally on its own. The swelling is frustrating and prevents women from wearing their pre-pregnancy clothes immediately. Progesterone in the body causes oedema and, until it goes away, the swelling continues. It isn’t a cause for alarm unless the swelling becomes severe. Some doctors offer diuretics to speed up the process, but women should not take OTC diuretics without discussing it with a doctor.
Irregular bowel movements cause abdominal distention, too, and worsen water retention. Women taking prescription pain medications experience constipation and hardening of the stools. Doctors recommend taking stool softeners for losing the bowels. Mothers who want a more natural solution drink prune or apple juice to soften the stools and relieve constipation.
4. After-Care for Stitches
Perineum soreness is likely after childbirth if the doctor widened the vagina with an incision. Doctors recommend washing the perineum stitches with warm water and patting the perineum dry after bathroom trips. Women avoid sexual activity until after the six-weeks checkup following childbirth. Women with perineum stitches are at greater risk of infection and broken stitches if they try to have sex before healing completely.
Women who underwent a C-section clean their abdomen with antibacterial soap and apply ointment as directed by their doctor. It’s important to air the incision site and allow all moisture to dry completely. After a C-section, it is vital for women to walk to improve the healing process, but women shouldn’t exercise until after healing completely.
Over-the-counter medications relieve pain and discomfort for most women. Ice packs reduce swelling of the perineum and offer fast pain relief for women who have stitches. Using a heating pad provides relief, too.
5. Vaginal Bleeding and Discharge
Vaginal bleeding and discharge continue up to six weeks after childbirth. Doctors suggest wearing adult diapers if the bleeding is heavier than usual. Sanitary napkins are a great choice for lighter bleeding, and women must avoid wearing tight panties. Cotton briefs are the best choice for supporting the abdomen and keeping pads secure. Regular bathing lowers the risk of infections and prevents foul odours.
Vaginal bleeding is heavier during the first ten days after childbirth. In the following weeks, the bleeding and discharge lighten up and soreness subsides. Even if the bleeding seems to stop earlier, it’s a great idea to keep sanitary napkins or pads on hand just in case. Doctors recommend avoiding the use of tampons or Diva cups, as the products increase the risk of bacterial infections and other health risks. Women must avoid inserting any menstrual products into the vagina until their six-weeks checkup.
6. Postpartum Depression and the Baby Blues
Postpartum depression and the baby blues can happen to anyone, and women exhibit symptoms as early as three days after delivery. Symptoms include sadness, loss of interest, and an inability to bond with the child. Insomnia might occur, and some women experience severe anxiety.
Doctors conduct tests and evaluate mothers who believe they have postpartum depression. Antidepressants and counselling are the most prevailing treatments for PPD. Doctors recommend dietary changes and light exercising to increase feel-good hormones and eliminate physical symptoms of PPD. For most women, PPD goes away after a few weeks, but severe cases require ongoing psychiatric treatment. Doctors monitor the progression of PPD and offer fast help for struggling mothers.
7. Abdominal Pain and Discomfort
Abdominal pain and discomfort occur because of childbirth and the sudden changes in the body. Blood clots accumulate in the uterus and cause abdominal pain. Nurses show women abdominal massages that help expel the blood clots and improve the healing process. As the uterus returns to its original size, cramping is likely. OTC pain relievers help with the pain and discomfort. Heating pads are great for cramping and discomfort.
Postpartum mothers undergo an array of changes and experiences after giving birth. The road to recovery takes time and requires adjustments to a new reality. As the body heals, women must follow self-care practices to avoid creating additional issues. Following steps for recovering after pregnancy helps women cope with bodily changes and find their new normal.