The postpartum phase is the six weeks following the birth of a baby, when the mother’s body recovers to its pre-pregnancy state.
A mother can expect some physical changes and symptoms after childbirth, but they are usually minor and transient. Severe health problems are uncommon. Regardless, the doctor, hospital personnel, or health-care plan would normally set up a follow-up office or home visit programme.
In a hospital (What to Expect)
The mother is watched for at least an hour after the baby is delivered. She may be watched for several hours after delivery, usually in a well-equipped recovery room with access to oxygen, intravenous fluids, and resuscitation equipment, if anaesthesia was used during delivery or if there were any difficulties during delivery.
Staff personnel take the mother’s temperature and pulse rate. The mother’s pulse rate (which had increased during pregnancy) should begin to return to normal within the first 24 hours, and her temperature may rise slightly before returning to normal within the first few days. Recovery is swift after the first 24 hours.
Staff personnel at the hospital make every attempt to reduce the new mother’s suffering as well as the risk of bleeding and infection.
The first objective is to keep bleeding to a minimum. A nurse may massage the mother’s belly after the placenta (afterbirth) is delivered to help the uterus contract and stay constricted, minimising excessive bleeding.
Oxytocin is used to promote uterine contractions if necessary. Until the uterus contracts, the medication is injected into a muscle or administered intravenously as a continuous infusion.
Before women are released, a complete blood count is performed to check for anaemia if they lose a lot of blood during and after delivery.
Urine production often spikes after birth, but only for a short time. Because bladder sensation may be affected after delivery, hospital workers advise new mothers to attempt to urinate at least once every four hours. This helps prevent bladder infections by avoiding overfilling the bladder. Members of the staff may gently push on the mother’s abdomen to check the bladder and see if it is being emptied.
If the new mother is unable to urinate on her own, a catheter may be temporarily put into the bladder to empty the urine. In some cases, an indwelling catheter (one that stays in the bladder for a long time) is required.
Diet and exercise
A new mother can resume her regular diet as soon as she desires, which might be as soon as a few days after delivery. She should get up and start walking right away.
If the delivery was vaginal, a new mother can begin abdominal muscle strengthening activities as soon as the next day. Caesarean delivery is a big procedure, and women should wait until they have fully recovered and allowed for recovery, which usually takes approximately 6 weeks.
Following approval from their doctor during their post delivery checkup, women can resume their pre-pregnancy exercise routine.
A new mother is inspected before she leaves the hospital. If the mother and baby are both healthy, they are usually discharged from the hospital within 24 to 48 hours after a vaginal delivery and 96 hours after a caesarean delivery. If no general anaesthetic was used and no complications occurred, discharge can be as early as 6 hours.
The woman is informed about the changes that will occur in her body and the precautions she should take as her body recovers following the birth of her child. Follow-up visits are scheduled on a regular basis, usually commencing 3 to 8 weeks after delivery. The initial appointment may be planned sooner if the birth was caesarean or if complications occurred.
Back to the house (What to Expect)
When a new mother is ready, she can resume her normal daily activities. A new mother can recuperate and feel healthy by eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.
Even if the delivery was caesarean, a new mother is allowed to shower. Baths should be avoided until the healing process is complete. Washing the genital area from front to back is recommended. If the area is inflamed, a water spray bottle or sitz baths may be more comforting. Women should not douche until they have discussed it with their doctor at their first postpartum visit.
Nothing should be inserted in the vaginal area for at least two weeks after a vaginal or caesarean delivery, including tampons and douches. For the next 6 weeks, avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting. For the next six weeks, sexual activity should be avoided. The incision site should be treated similarly to other surgical incisions. Showering should be resumed within 24 hours of surgery. It’s important not to clean the incision site. Baths should be avoided until the wound has healed fully and all staples and sutures have been removed.It’s important to keep the incision site clean and dry. Any signs of increased redness or discharge from the incision should be reported to the doctor. Pain and numbness surrounding the incision site might linger for months, and numbness much longer.
The uterus, which is still enormous, continues to contract for a little longer before shrinking during the next two weeks. These contractions are irregular and painful most of the time. Breastfeeding causes contractions to become more intense. Breastfeeding causes the hormone oxytocin to be produced. Oxytocin promotes the release of milk and uterine contractions (known as the let-down reflex).
The uterus is firm and no longer sensitive after 5 to 7 days, but it is still somewhat enlarged, stretching halfway between the pubic bone and the navel. The uterus returns to near-normal size by two weeks following delivery, and it normally returns to normal size by four weeks. Even if she exercises, the new mother’s abdomen does not become as flat as it was before the pregnancy for several months.
Stretch marks do not disappear, although they do lessen with time, sometimes for up to a year.
Doctors urge that mothers breastfeed for at least 6 months without supplementing with other foods. Breastfeeding should be continued for another 6 months while other foods are introduced. Following that, women are advised to continue nursing until the infant or they lose interest.
Bottle-feeding can be used instead of breastfeeding if mothers are unable or unable to do so for various reasons.
Breastfeeding mothers must learn how to arrange their babies when feeding. The mother’s nipples may become uncomfortable and damaged if the baby is not properly positioned. The baby’s lower lip is sometimes drawn in and sucked, hurting the nipple. In such circumstances, the mother can use her thumb to gently pull the baby’s lip out of its mouth. To remove her nipple from the baby’s mouth, the mother should first break the suction generated by sucking by sliding her finger into the baby’s mouth. This move can help to keep the breasts from becoming injured and painful.
The mother can either let the milk dry naturally on the nipples or gently pat them dry after a feeding. She can use a hair dryer set on low to dry her nipples if she wants. Women can apply 100 percent lanolin to their nipples after breastfeeding. This can assist to reduce pain and protect the nipples.
Breasts may leak milk when a mother breastfeeds. To absorb the milk, cotton pads can be worn, however plastic bra liners might irritate the nipples and should not be used.
Breastfeeding mothers need to eat an extra 300 to 500 calories each day when breastfeeding. They should also boost their calcium intake, as well as most vitamins and minerals. Mothers usually only need to eat a well-balanced diet (with plenty of dairy products and green, leafy vegetables) and take a prenatal vitamin with folate once a day. At least 400 mcg of folate should be found in prenatal supplements. They should consume enough water to ensure a steady flow of milk. Vitamin and mineral supplements, such as vitamin B12 for vegetarians, should be discussed with doctors by mothers on unusual diets.