Postpartum care after a vaginal delivery (II)

Continued from last week

To ease any discomfort while the hemorrhoids heal, soak in a warm tub and apply chilled witch hazel pads to the affected area. Your health care provider might recommend a topical hemorrhoid medication as well.

If you find yourself avoiding bowel movements out of fear of hurting your perineum or aggravating the pain of hemorrhoids or your episiotomy wound, take steps to keep your stools soft and regular. Eat foods high in fibre; including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Drink plenty of water. Ask your health care provider about a stool softener or an osmotic laxative, if needed.

Another potential problem for new mothers after a vaginal delivery is the inability to control bowel movements; feacal incontinence. Frequent Kegel exercises can help with mild feacal leakage. If you have persistent trouble controlling bowel movements, consult your health care provider.


Sore breasts and leaking milk

Several days after delivery, your breasts might become firm, swollen and tender; engorgement. To ease discomfort, nurse your baby, use a breast pump, apply warm washcloths or take a warm shower to express milk. Between feedings, place cold washcloths or ice packs on your breasts. Mild pain relievers might help, too.

If you are not breast-feeding, wear a firm, supportive bra, such as a sports bra, to help stop milk production. Do not pump or rub your breasts, which will cause your breasts to produce more milk. If your breasts leak between feedings, wear nursing pads inside your bra to help keep your shirt dry. Change pads after each feeding and whenever they get wet.


Hair loss and skin changes

During pregnancy, elevated hormone levels put normal hair loss on hold. The result is often an extra-lush head of hair. After delivery, your body sheds the excess hair all at once. Hair loss typically stops within six months.

Stretch marks won’t disappear after delivery, but eventually they will fade. Any skin that darkened during pregnancy, such as the line down your abdomen; linea nigra will slowly fade away as well.


Mood changes

Child birth triggers a lot of powerful emotions such as, mood swings, irritability, sadness and anxiety among others. Many new mothers experience a mild depression, sometimes called the baby blues. The baby blues typically subside within a week or two. In the meantime, take good care of yourself. Share your feelings, and ask your partner, loved ones or friends for help. If your depression deepens or you feel hopeless and sad most of the time, contact your health care provider. Prompt treatment is important.


Weight loss

After you give birth, you will probably feel out of shape. You might even look like you are still pregnant. This is normal. Most women lose more than 10 pounds during birth, including the weight of the baby, placenta and amniotic fluid. In the days after delivery, you will lose additional weight from leftover fluids. After that, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you gradually return to your pre-pregnancy weight


The postpartum checkup

About six weeks after delivery, your health care provider will check your vagina, cervix and womb to make sure you are healing well. He or she might do a breast examination and check your weight and blood pressure, too. This is a great time to talk about resuming sexual activity, birth control, breast-feeding and how you are adjusting to life with a new baby. You might also ask about Kegel exercises to help tone your pelvic floor muscles.

Above all, share any concerns you might have about your physical or emotional health. Chances are, what you’re feeling is entirely normal. Look to your health care provider for assurance as you enter this new phase of life.