After months of anticipation, morning sickness, shortness of breath, and palpitations your darling baby is here, and all the attention and love are shifting to this magnificent new addition to the family. Mom needs to remind herself that she needs to take care of herself in the process as the postnatal recovery period may pose problems if a mother neglects herself while caring for her precious baby. Especially for first-time moms, it is normal to feel overwhelmed as everything you’re experiencing is new.
What is postnatal depletion?
Postnatal depletion refers to problems a woman might experience following delivery.
They include physical and emotional challenges. Physical problems include managing vaginal tears or a C-section wound, breast soreness, leaking milk, problems in urination, and hair loss.
Emotional and mental problems include mood swings, irritability, sadness and anxiety.
What should I do during my postnatal recovery period?
Take care of yourself!
Attending your postnatal visits and sharing any concerns you might have with your doctor is best practice. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that postnatal care be an ongoing process rather than just a single visit after delivery.
What should happen during a postnatal recovery visit?
During such postnatal recovery visits, your doctor will examine your abdomen and vagina to check that you’re recovering normally. They may check on your mood and psychological well-being, sleeping patterns, daytime fatigue. They may also provide you with information on how to feed and care for your baby.
What problems might be faced during a postnatal recovery period?
1. Vaginal soreness
An episiotomy or vaginal tear during delivery will cause vaginal pain that lasts for a few weeks. This may be partially relieved by sitting on a pillow, cooling the wound with an ice pack, sitting in a warm bath for five minutes, and taking over-the-counter analgesics
2. Vaginal discharge:
The superficial membranes lining the uterus begin to shed after delivery. This discharge will continue for a few weeks. It is red and heavy in the first few days. Its amount gradually shrinks over time and becomes watery, changing from pinkish brown to yellowish white in color.
Contractions similar to menstrual cramps (called afterpains) sometimes occur during the first few days after delivery. These are important as they compress the blood vessels of the uterus thus preventing excessive bleeding. Contractions are common during breast-feeding as a hormone called oxytocin is released.
The whole process of pregnancy and vaginal delivery may have a toll on the muscles of your pelvis which normally support the uterus, bladder, and rectum. This may lead to a condition called stress incontinence, where a few drops of urine leak during coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
This usually improves within weeks and rarely persists in the long run. Wearing sanitary pads and performing Kegel exercises helps tone muscles of the pelvis.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus or lower rectum. They cause pain during bowel movements or a feeling of a swelling near the anus. While they heal, over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams, witch hazel or suppositories may help soothe the pain. Soaking in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes two to three times a day can also be helpful. Try to keep your stools soft and regular by eating lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, in addition to, drinking lots of water. Your doctor might prescribe a stool softener.
6. Breast tenderness
Breasts tend to become full, firm and tender a few days after birth. Regular and frequent breast-feeding is recommended to avoid or minimize this “engorgement” of the breasts with milk.
Applying warm washcloths to the breasts or taking a warm shower before breast-feeding or expressing may help. Between feedings, cold washcloths applied to the breasts helps. If you're not breast-feeding, wear a sports bra. However, don't pump your breasts as this will cause your breasts to produce more milk.
7. Hair loss and stretch marks
Pregnancy usually produces an extra-lush head of hair. However, during the postnatal period and up to five months, hair loss occurs as the hormonal changes that were present during pregnancy go back to normal. Stretch marks don’t disappear after delivery but they eventually fade from red to skin color.
8. Mood changes
Childbirth causes powerful emotions. However, baby blues may occur. These include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and sleep disorders. Such mood changes usually subside in a couple of weeks. Take good care of yourself and share your emotions with your partner, loved ones or friends.
When should I urgently contact my doctor during the postnatal recovery period?
- If vaginal pain becomes severe or persistent as this could be a sign of infection.
- If heavy vaginal bleeding that soaks a pad in less than an hour occurs. Especially if accompanied by pelvic pain and fever.
- If severe mood swings, loss of appetite, overwhelming fatigue and lack of joy in life occur. These may be a sign of postpartum depression, especially if they don't fade away on their own, cause you to have trouble caring for your baby or have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
- Pain, swelling or redness in the calf muscles of one leg.
- Pain in your chest with difficulty in breathing.
Sudden very heavy blood loss from the vagina, possibly feeling faint, and having a rapid heartbeat.
- Fever with a sore, tender tummy.
- Headache, changes in vision and vomiting.
- For C-section delivery, if the wound becomes more red, painful and swollen; or if there is a discharge of pus or bad smelling fluid from the wound.
How can Vida-Flo help during postnatal recovery?
Intravenous (IV) hydration with Vida-Flo may help during the postnatal recovery period to ease the symptoms of postnatal depletion:
- A Vida-Flo bag provides the body with large volumes of fluids intravenously ensuring 100% absorption and avoiding the discomfort of ingesting large volumes of fluids orally.
- Vida-Flo provides one liter of saline solution containing various electrolytes called Lactated Ringer which is equivalent to drinking 2.5 gallons of water.
- Vida-Flo ensures you are properly hydrated which is essential if you plan on breast-feeding to ensure an adequate supply of milk to your baby.
- Vida-Flo fluids provide these necessary electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and calcium), in addition to, nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals in a carefully balanced formula.
If your doctor allows it, certain medications can be added to the Vida-Flo therapies:
- Toradol helps relieve vaginal pain, after pains, and breast tenderness.
- Zofran and Pepcid help relive gastrointestinal symptoms that may persist during the postnatal recovery period.