New moms may think they are ready to tackle anything once they’re at home with their sweet baby. After all, they have been through nine months of ups and downs, difficult sleeping, and morning sickness. Now that they have given birth, it should be smooth sailing, right?
There are some common health issues for new mothers, so it’s best to be prepared both physically and emotionally to handle what may come next.
As a new mother’s hormones begin to fluctuate after birth, and estrogen levels increase, sweating can be an issue, especially at night. As long as this is not accompanied by a fever, there is no worry about infection.
Hair loss can occur as well, but this is only temporary. Once hormones level off, hair density and fullness will return.
Expect pain and discomfort in a few areas of the body.
- The abdomen will be painful as the uterus shrinks back to its normal size. In addition, breastfeeding causes the uterus to contract. Use a heating pad or a hot water bottle to ease the discomfort.
- Breast and nipple pain are common. If breasts are swollen and hard, it may be that your body is trying to work out how much milk is needed. This is known as engorgement. Use warm compresses and then ice packs between feedings. If there is an issue with sore nipples, try feeding more often, and go braless for a time.
- Even if you had an easy delivery, there can be pain in the vaginal area. If the delivery required an episiotomy or if there was a tear, the area between the vagina and rectum known as the perineum will be sore. Use a squirt bottle filled with warm water after going to the bathroom; do not wipe with toilet paper. Sitting on an ice pack several times a day will also aid in relieving the pain. If stitches were needed, they will take 7-10 days to heal. Keep the area clean, but don’t touch and simply pat dry
The “Baby Blues” And Exhaustion
70-80% of women feel sad during the first few weeks after giving birth. This feeling can be caused by hormones and exhaustion. The feeding schedule, lack of adequate sleep, and anxiety can all result in moodiness and crying for no apparent reason. It may take two to three months to recover from the exhaustion.
Use the support of family and friends to help so you can get enough rest. Should this develop into the extreme, talk to your physician at Birmingham Obstetrics & Gynecology about postpartum depression.
Other Common Problems
If any of these health issues get worse instead of better with time, talk to your doctor:
- Urinary incontinence
- Uncomfortable sex
- Water retention
Remember that You’ll Bounce Back
Postpartum recovery has its challenges, but all of these health issues are temporary. In the meantime, get enough rest, eat healthy, drink lots of water and don’t overdo. Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby for a while, and certainly don’t ignore your own health during this time.
Give your body time to heal and above all, enjoy and cherish your little miracle!