Your Body After Baby: Understanding the First 6 Weeks of Postpartum

Bringing a new life into the world is a remarkable journey that comes with a range of physical and emotional changes for mothers. Let's read What Your Body Undergoes After Childbirth and tips to cope with those changes.

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Harleen Kaur
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Understanding the First 6 Weeks of Postpartum

Bringing a new life into the world is a remarkable journey that comes with a range of physical and emotional changes for mothers. Knowing what to expect during the first 6 weeks postpartum can help you tackle your postpartum body and the baby blues that come in together with the baby.  

What Your Body Undergoes After Childbirth

Healing from Delivery and Afterbirth pains

During the first 6 weeks, your body goes through a healing process after childbirth. Whether you had a vaginal birth or a cesarean section, it's important to allow your body time to heal. Pay attention to your doctor's recommendations, practice good hygiene, and rest as much as possible to aid in the recovery process.

What you can do for healing

Vaginal delivery Cesarean birth
  • Ask your provider about pain medicine.
  • Ask your provider for pain medicine
  • Do Kegel exercises. These exercises strengthen the muscles in the pelvic area
  • Don’t lift from a squatting position.
  • Sit on a pillow or a donut-shaped cushion
  • Support your belly with pillows when you’re breastfeeding.
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. This can help prevent infection as your episiotomy heals.
  • Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby.
  • Put a cold pack on your perineum(area between vagina and rectum)
  • Drink plenty of water to help replace fluids in your body.

 

Postpartum Bleeding and Discharge

Known as lochia, postpartum bleeding, and discharge are common after giving birth. This discharge consists of blood, tissue, and mucus from the uterus. Over time, the flow gets less and lighter in color. The bleeding generally stops within 4 to 6 weeks after delivery. 

What you can do

Use sanitary pads until the discharge stops, no tampons, as nothing should go in the vagina for six weeks.

Incision drainage

If you had a cesarean, it is normal to have a small amount of pink, watery drainage from the incision. Keep the incision clean and dry. Wash the incision with soap and warm water. You can bathe or shower as usual. If the drainage doesn’t stop, call your healthcare provider.

Breast Changes

As your body adjusts to breastfeeding, you may experience various breast changes. This can include:

Breast discharge

When you are breastfeeding, your breasts may leak fluid. If you are unable to breastfeed, the leaking may occur initially and will stop within 1 to 2 weeks after delivery. Breast pads, worn inside your bra, may help keep you dry.

Breast engorgement

Breast engorgement is breast swelling characterized by a feeling of warmth, hardness, and heaviness in the breasts. Engorgement is caused by increased circulation to the breasts. It can happen as milk comes in or if you miss a feeding (if you are breastfeeding). Your breasts may feel tender and sore. The discomfort usually goes away once you start breastfeeding regularly. If you’re not breastfeeding, it may last until your breasts stop making milk, usually within a few days.

What you can do:

  • Breastfeed your baby. Try not to miss a feeding or go a long time between feedings. Don’t skip night feedings.
  • Express some milk before feeding your baby.
  • Take a warm shower or lay warm towels on your breasts to help your milk flow. If your engorgement is really painful, put cold packs on your breasts. 
  • Wear a firm, supportive bra (like a sports bra).
  • If nothing helps, and your breasts are still swollen and sore, contact the healthcare provider.

Nipple pain

If you’re breastfeeding, you may have nipple plain during the first few days, especially if your nipples crack.

What you can do:

  • Talk to a lactation consultant to be sure your baby is latching on to your breast the right way. Latching on is when your baby’s mouth is securely attached to (placed around) your nipple.
  • Make sure your child is sucking milk, not just suckling with your nipple. It may cause nipple cracks.
  • Don't let the baby latch on your nipples for more than 10 minutes initially. 
  • Ask your provider about the cream to put on your nipples. or you can use coconut/olive oil.
  • Or After breastfeeding, massage some breast milk onto your nipples. Let your breasts air dry.
  • If nothing works, and you want to breastfeed your child, use a nipple shield.

Swelling

Lots of women have swelling in their hands, feet, and face during pregnancy. It’s caused by extra fluids in your body. It may take time for the swelling to go away after you have your baby.

What you can do:

  • Lie on your left side when resting or sleeping.
  • Put your feet up.
  • Try to stay cool and wear loose clothes.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Constipation and Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are painful, swollen veins in and around the anus that may hurt or bleed. Hemorrhoids are common during and after pregnancy. The first bowel movement after delivery may be delayed to the third or fourth day after delivery. 

What you can do:

  • Try not to strain when you’re having a bowel movement (pooping).
  • Soak in a warm bath, sitz bath. in case you have hemorrhoids.
  • Eat foods that are high in fiber.
  • Drink lots and lots of water. Increase your fluid intake.
  • Ask your provider for a stool softener.

Urinary problems

You may feel discomfort when urinating. Discomfort is common, but be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you feel pain or if urinating is difficult. The stretching of your muscles during delivery can cause temporary loss of urinary and sometimes bowel control. Sometimes you may not be able to stop urinating. This is called incontinence. It usually goes away as your pelvic muscles become stronger again. It will improve a few weeks after delivery. Do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles.

Hormonal Shifts, Baby Blues, and PPD

 Pregnancy and childbirth trigger significant hormonal changes in your body. These shifts can affect your mood, and energy levels, and even contribute to postpartum depression. 

Baby (also called postpartum blues) are feelings of sadness a woman may have in the first few days after having a baby. Baby blues can happen 2 to 3 days after you have your baby and can last up to 2 weeks. They usually go away on their own, and you don’t need any treatment.

Postpartum depression (also called PPD) is a kind of depression that some women get after having a baby. It's strong feelings of sadness, anxiety (worry), and tiredness that last for a long time after giving birth. These feelings can make it hard for you to take care of yourself and your baby. PPD is a medical condition that needs treatment to get better. It’s the most common complication for women who have just had a baby.

What you can do about the baby blues and PPD:

  • Get as much sleep as you can.
  • Ask for help from your partner, family, and friends. Tell them exactly what they can do for you.
  • Take time for yourself. Ask someone you trust to watch your baby so you can get out of the house.
  • Connect with other new moms. Ask your provider to help you find a support group for new moms.
  • Learn about risk factors for PPD and the signs and symptoms of PPD and talk to your healthcare provider

 Emotional Well-being

Your emotional well-being is just as important as your physical recovery. The first 6 weeks postpartum can be emotionally challenging due to hormonal fluctuations, sleep deprivation, and the adjustment to your new role as a mother. Prioritize self-care, seek emotional support from loved ones, and consider joining support groups or seeking counseling if needed.

Many discomforts and body changes after giving birth are normal. But sometimes they’re signs or symptoms of a health problem that needs treatment. Go to all of your postpartum checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. These are medical checkups you get after having a baby to make sure you’re recovering well from labor and birth. At your checkups, your healthcare provider can help spot and treat health conditions. Postpartum care is important because new moms are at risk of serious and sometimes life-threatening health complications in the days and weeks after giving birth.

LOVE AND SUPPORT ALWAYS....!!

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