The post-natal period covers the phase right after delivery and usually extends to six weeks after. Some also call it the postpartum period or puerperium. Due to the pregnancy, a lot of biological changes occur in your body. After giving birth, hormone levels and uterus size, for example, need to go back to their pre-pregnancy states. Much of the postnatal concerns have much to do with getting your old form back. Moreover, knowing what to expect will free you from possible panic or anxiety attacks when certain changes and symptoms arise. To help us gain more insight, Marinella Abat, an OB-gyne from St. Agnes General Hospital and VRP Medical Center, gives us the lowdown on the most common conditions that mothers cite and the general care that can be taken as soon as they arise.
Vaginal Soreness According to Dr. Abat, vaginal soreness is usually due to the lacerations and episiotomy repairs done to accommodate the delivery of the baby. This is usually resolved by perineal heat and analgesics. Try not to concern yourself too much with this; wounds will heal after about a week or two. To aid the healing process and tone your pelvic floor muscles, do the Kegel exercise. The Mayo Clinic outlines this as follows: Simply tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re stopping your stream of urine. Starting about a day after delivery, try it for five seconds at a time, four or five times in a row. Repeat throughout the day.
Vaginal Discharge Dr. Abat says that this is also known as lochia. She adds, “This comes from the uterus. Do keep in mind that the lochia will undergo changes throughout the postpartum period. In the first three to four days, the discharge is usually red in color. In the next three to four days, the discharge becomes pinkish, and after 10 days, it will become light yellow and creamy in color. The discharge commonly lasts for about four to eight weeks postpartum. In the event that the lochia is foul-smelling or becomes persistent, one should seek consultation right away. This could be due to poor healing, infection, or retained placental tissues.”
Postnatal Contractions Unfortunately, even after delivery, mothers may still undergo some contractions. Do not be alarmed, says our OB. “Contractions or after pains are usually because of the involution of the uterus. During the postpartum period, the uterus tries to expel the remaining fragments or blood clots as it returns to its normal pre-pregnant size and state. Sometimes breastfeeding can also bring about after-pains because of the release of certain chemicals. All these can be relieved by analgesics,” Dr. Abat narrates.
Irregular Bowel Movements This may either be constipation or loose bowel movements. “Constipation is commonly due to the patient’s inactivity, decreased intra-abdominal pressure after the delivery, and painful perineum,” according to Dr. Abat. A diet rich in fiber with lots of water will help alleviate the situation. Exert effort to be as physically active as you can be after delivery. If need be, you can ask your doctor about stool softeners or laxatives. For women who went through prolonged labor, LBM is usually the main complaint. Kegel exercises can also help; however, relay long-term LBM to your doctor right away.
Weight Gain Yes, we all gain weight due to pregnancy and we would be more than happy to get rid of those unwanted pounds as soon as possible. Sad to say, this won’t happen right after we give birth. Dr. Abat says, “Immediate weight loss postpartum averages at 5 kg.” As soon as you are able, getting into a healthy diet coupled with regular exercise will do the job, especially since the good doctor says that “normal pre-pregnant weight is usually obtained six months after delivery.”
Enlarged Breasts This is another sore point. Several days after delivery, breasts may become tender and heavy. Dr. Abat advises, “Breast engorgement can be solved by frequent feeding or collection of milk. Please be aware that sometimes nipples obtain cracks and fissures because of the baby’s sucking; when this happens, all you have to do is to clean them with mild soap and water and try to rest that part of your breast for a short period.” It would also be good for a new mom to get breastfeeding support to avoid sore nipples since this is caused by the improper latching of the baby to the breast.
Dr. Marinella Abat, ob-gynecologist, St. Agnes General Hospital and VRP Medical Center