Postpartum - Page 4
Common postpartum aches and pains
During the first few weeks, as you work to rebuild your strength and recover from birth, your body is undergoing many changes. While your body adjusts to no longer being pregnant, you may experience the following symptoms:
- You will have a bloody vaginal discharge (lochia) that changes to brown, then whitish over the next few weeks after birth. The amount of discharge should markedly decrease. Do not use tampons, and contact your health care provider if bleeding or discharge increases.
- Your vaginal area may be very tender due to tissue swelling and stretching, or healing from an episiotomy. Taking warm, shallow baths (sitz baths) twice a day may relieve soreness and speed healing.
- Hemorrhoids may occur due to the increased pressure during pregnancy and birth. Sitz baths help with hemorrhoids, as well as creams or sprays your health care provider may recommend.
- Constipation after childbirth is common. Increasing fluids, regular exercise, and increasing the fiber in your diet are some of the ways to prevent constipation. Foods with fiber include beans, whole grains, bran cereals, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Cooked prunes, dried figs, or prune juice are especially high in fiber. Do not take a laxative without the recommendation of your health care provider.
- After a cesarean section, keep the incision clean and dry. Tell your health care provider about any swelling, redness, or discharge around the incision.
- You may have painful contractions that continue after birth (as the uterus returns to its original size) called "after-pains." These often occur during breastfeeding.
- Your breasts will enlarge and swell (engorgement) as milk production begins. Wear a supportive bra and nurse your baby frequently to help keep the milk flowing. Warm compresses can be used to help stimulate the letdown of milk (a reflex that triggers the release of breast milk). If engorgement is severe, cold packs may help. If you choose not to breastfeed, ice packs and binding your breasts will help alleviate engorgement in a couple of days.
- Extreme fatigue and soreness are common in the first few weeks. Take naps when your baby naps to compensate for lost sleep at night from getting up to feed the baby.
- It is generally recommended that a new mother should schedule an appointment with her health care provider four to six weeks after birth to ensure proper healing.
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