Hey KIC Mummas, no doubt you’ve found that there’s so much emphasis on the birth, but not a lot of education around what to expect once your beautiful bub has arrived, help!
That’s why we’ve teamed up with our friends at Kin Fertility to fill us in on what to expect during the fourth trimester and how we can best care for ourselves.
After having a baby, the newborn ultimately takes priority, and you will know exactly when they need something (just like you will know never to take sleep for granted again!).
There’s no doubt that having a new born is beautiful, but it’s also exhausting, and it’s easy to feel completely consumed by the process or at the expense of the new mum’s health and sanity. That’s why postpartum care is so important.
There’s a lot to consider, both during pregnancy and after birth, including hormonal changes, healing vaginal soreness and adjusting to life as a new mother (which is unlike anything else).
When it comes to all things postpartum care, we’re here to help…
So, what is postpartum care?
We’re talking about the six-week period after having a baby – it’s a time of significant healing and adjustment to parenthood. You may also hear the terms puerperium, puerperal period and the immediate postpartum period.
The postpartum period begins immediately after childbirth as the mother’s body begins to recover and return back to its non-pregnant state.
A lot of mums experience rapidly fluctuating hormone levels, uterus shrinking back after all the chaos, and healing from any harm or impact such as tearing, irritation, tenderness or paid to the vulva and rectum region.
What are after birth pains?
Afterpains (no matter how unfair!) are common as well. We know what you’re thinking – after putting in all that work, it’s not even over? For some mums, unfortunately not.
But afterbirth pains help prevent any excessive bleeding by compressing the blood vessels in the uterus and often resemble menstrual cramps. If the pain is hard to manage, your doctor may prescribe pain relief medication.
Adjusting to parenthood...
Being a parent is a significant transition – it’s incredibly rewarding, but tough both emotionally and physically, and it can be difficult to navigate the highs and lows.
Try and be open and honest with loved ones about how you’re feeling, and lean on them when necessary. There are also new mother support groups to connect with other people who are on the same journey!
What are 'the baby blues' and postpartum depression?
It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed and experience dramatic mood swings after having a baby. But ups and downs are normal – it’s important to remember this and that you’re not the only mother who experiences them.
Up to 80 per cent of new mothers get what’s referred to “the baby blues”. They’re short-term dips in mood caused by changes that come with the newborn. However, checking in on your emotional well-being is crucial.
If feelings of sadness persist for longer than a few days to a couple of weeks, you may be dealing with postpartum depression. This is more severe than the baby blues and requires intervention and medical help.
Around 10 per cent of new mothers will experience postpartum depression. Symptoms include feelings of hopelessness and/or worthlessness, anxiety and panic attacks, and feeling like you’re not bonding with your baby. If these occur, you should see your doctor straight away.
It’s also important to remember that postpartum depression can happen to any new mother and there’s nothing wrong with getting some extra help.
Coping with body changes
There are many bodily changes that occur postpartum, most of which are expected and normal. These include postpartum pain, postpartum bleeding, sore nipples, sore breasts, perineal pain, weakened pelvic muscles, pelvic pain and mood swings.
However, there are things to help you adjust, especially after a vaginal delivery.
How do I manage vaginal soreness?
For vaginal soreness after giving birth, there are a few treatments options to help the discomfort and healing process. To soothe the pain:
Any vaginal tears from delivery may take a few weeks to heal, or longer if they are extensive. However, if you’re feeling extreme pain, increased pain or heavy vaginal bleeding, your doctor or health care provider is the best point of call.
And excess vaginal discharge?
After childbirth, it’s normal to experience heavier vaginal discharge. As you begin to shed the superficial mucous membrane that lined your uterus during birth, your discharge may be heavier and include some blood.
To soak up this extra discharge, use postpartum pads and add extra comfort with undies designed for after delivery, such as mesh panties.
This discharge will reduce after a few weeks. However, if you’re concerned with the amount of blood, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.
As mentioned, afterpains can occur in the first few days after childbirth. They may also be common during breastfeeding as the hormone oxytocin is released and may cause contractions in the uterus. If they are causing any concern, chat to your doctor about them.
Perineum soreness may include swelling and pain near and around the perineum, the area of skin between the vagina opening and anus.
To cleanse this area and help soothe it, take a sitz bath, use cold therapy or apply a cooling and healing foam, such as Kin’s Healing Foam, which can provide pain relief for the perineal area.
As delivery may stretch or injure your pelvic floor muscles, your uterus, bladder and rectum may be more susceptible to sensitivity. As they are less supported than usual, leakage may occur with sneezing, laughing, coughing or just generally going about your day.
To soak up these drops of urine, you can wear sanitary pads or Padsicles. Then, to re-strengthen the area, when you feel ready, there are a range of pelvic floor muscle exercises you can do, such as Kegels, which will help tone the area and give you better control again of your bladder.
What are haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids are extremely common during pregnancy and in postpartum. This is where veins in the rectum and anal become enlarged or swollen and cause bleeding, pain and discomfort. They can also be affected by bowel movement.
Sitz baths can help soothe the area and ice packs can alleviate swelling. You can also use cooling gels, creams or foams and over the counter medicine prescribed by a health care provider, such as stool softener and pain relief.
Constipation should also be avoided by eating loads of fibre-rich foods and drinking plenty of water.
How to manage tender breasts
After giving birth, it’s normal for breasts to be tender, fuller and firmer. This is also known as breast engorgement and may be painful.
To relieve this, breastfeeding on both sides can help, and a warm compress can help with let down and get the milk flowing. However, pumping and expressing can cause breasts to produce more milk.
For guidance in this area, talk your doctor, healthcare provider or lactation consultant. Also, grab yourself a supportive and comfortable bra that’s not too tight.
And nipple pain...
Sore and tender nipples are very common in postpartum, especially for those choosing to breastfeed. For some, cracked nipples may occur, which is often due to incorrect or ineffective latching from the baby’s mouth.
There are many breastfeeding essentials that provide solutions to breast discomfort, pain and challenges. These include nursing pads, a supportive bra and nipple cream.
You can get many products to help, For example, Kin’s Breastfeeding Essentials bundle contains nipple balm, the Lactamo Ball and breast pads.
Hair loss and skin changes
As pregnancy and postpartum causes changes to hormone levels in the body, many mothers will experiences hair and skin changes.
During pregnancy, elevated hormones often result in having more thick, lush hair, that grows faster than it sheds. Iconic! However, after delivery, hair loss can occur up to five months after birth. Sad!
When it comes to skin, stretch marks are extremely common. They may not disappear after delivery, but they will fade from reds and purples into lighter silver and white shades.
Mothers may also experience dark patches on the skin, especially on the face, during pregnancy, which will also slowly fade after birth.
When should I see a doctor?
If you have any concerns during postpartum that are causing you to worry, then checking in with your doctor is always the right move. Mothers should also get their postnatal check-up in the first six weeks after delivery.
There are some danger signs that may be indicative of health problems to be aware of. When these occur, you should see a health care provider:
You can find out more about our friends at Kin Fertility here.
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