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Preventive Care
Women's Health

Postpartum Care After Birth

07 March 2024 · 5 mins read


The postpartum period is of utmost importance for both the mother and her newborn. Read our guide on what to expect after delivery and how to care for yourself after giving birth.

What Is the Postpartum Period?

Welcome to the extraordinary journey of the postpartum period, a phase that marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life as a mother.

The postpartum period is of utmost importance for both the mother and her newborn, as it lays the foundation for their long-term health and overall well-being. During this period, a mother is adapting to numerous physical, social, and psychological changes.

While it is a time of happiness and anticipation, this "fourth trimester" comes with significant challenges, such as sleep deprivation, fatigue, pain, breastfeeding challenges, stress, the onset or worsening of mental health issues, diminished sexual desire, and urinary incontinence.

The postpartum period is known as the period which begins just after the baby is delivered and extends up to 6 weeks (42 days). The American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ACOG) recommends 12 weeks of support instead of the arbitrary 6 weeks.

As you embark on this incredible adventure, embrace the challenges, celebrate the victories, and remember that each day is a step forward in your evolving role as a mother. The postpartum period is a unique and beautiful chapter in the story of motherhood, and we are here to support you every step of the way. Read on to learn more.

What to Expect During the Postpartum Period?

After birth, postpartum care is crucial for the health and well-being of both the mother and the newborn. Here are some common aspects and considerations for postpartum care after birth.

  1. Vaginal discharge (lochia)

    You can expect vaginal bleeding, known as lochia, for several weeks following delivery. Initially, it is red and heavy, resembling a heavy menstrual period, but it gradually lightens in colour and decreases in volume. You may also experience cramps similar to period pains, especially if you are breastfeeding.

  2. Pain and discomfort

    It is common to experience pain and discomfort in the perineal area and lower abdomen after childbirth. Over-the-counter pain medication, as recommended by your doctor, can help manage this discomfort.

    If you have had stitches after an episiotomy (cut) or tearing, it is advisable to wash the affected area daily. Take a bath or shower using plain warm water and gently pat yourself dry.

  3. Pelvic floor exercises

    Kegel exercises are often recommended to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can be weakened during childbirth. These exercises can aid in the recovery of bladder control and vaginal tone.

  4. Breastfeeding

    In the first hour after birth, initiating breastfeeding is encouraged. This early contact can promote bonding between the mother and baby and stimulate milk production.

    Ensuring a proper latch is essential for effective breastfeeding. Proper positioning, where the baby's mouth covers a significant portion of the areola, can help prevent nipple pain and ensure efficient milk transfer.

    Breast engorgement may occur in the first few days. Your breasts may feel tender, swollen, or painful, and you may have a fever. Changes in your baby's feeding routine can also cause this discomfort. These symptoms will disappear in a few days as the baby learns to latch on and feed properly.

    Keep your breasts clean, and if you are experiencing engorgement, use warm compresses or express milk to relieve discomfort. Ensure proper breast support with a well-fitted bra.

    Knowledge of breastfeeding is essential towards successful and rewarding breastfeeding journey. Read more – Breastfeeding: A Complete Guide

  5. Emotional changes

    Postpartum emotions can be intense, and it is normal to experience a range of feelings, including joy, anxiety, or mood swings. If you notice persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider.

    'Baby blues' - where a new mother experiences mood swings, anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping and crying spells - usually resolve without intervention. However, they can be challenging when you are going through them. If postpartum blues persist, it may be a sign of postpartum depression.

    If you are struggling with depressive symptoms for more than 2 weeks and finding it difficult to care for yourself or the newborn baby, seek medical attention.

    If someone you know is experiencing depressive symptoms, encourage the new mother to do things they enjoy for themselves, such as meeting friends, going for walks, singing, or drawing. Support the woman in your life in any way you can.

How to Care for Yourself After Birth?

Newborn babies require much care and attention. However, postpartum care for mothers is equally essential. Here are some practical ways to help your body heal quicker after delivery.

  1. Get enough rest

    While getting a whole night's uninterrupted sleep might seem impossible in the first few months, try sleeping whenever your baby sleeps. It is okay to leave household chores undone if you are exhausted from caring for your newborn.

  2. Healthy balanced diet

    A well-balanced diet that includes food rich in protein, fibre, and healthy fats will help you recover quicker.

  3. Light exercises

    Gentle physical activities can help improve your sleep, aid weight loss, and reduce symptoms of postpartum mood changes. However, consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise.

  4. Avoid lifting heavy objects

    If you have had a Caesarean section, lifting heavy objects can strain your abdomen and uterus, leading to complications in your recovery. It is best to avoid doing so until your doctor gives you the go-ahead.

  5. Simplify your baby’s care routine

    This can help reduce unnecessary stress and allow you to focus on your postpartum recovery.

  6. Seek support

    Caring for a newborn while your body heals after delivery is no easy task. Thus, reach out to friends and family for support. You and your partner may manage well independently, but having additional assistance with household tasks can simplify the transition to caring for a new baby. This way, you and your partner can prioritise your well-being and your baby's needs without being preoccupied with chores such as laundry or dishes.

  7. It is okay to limit visitors

    While friends and family may be excited to meet your newborn, limiting visitors if you feel overwhelmed in any way is okay. Your well-being is just as essential as your baby's. Visitors can always come another time.

When to See a Doctor After Birth?

Your doctor would usually schedule postpartum check-ups. However, do seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any issues.

  • Pain or swelling in the calf muscle of one leg
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormally heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Abdominal (tummy) pain
  • Headache
  • Vision changes
  • Vomiting

Make an Appointment at Pantai Hospitals

Congratulations on the arrival of your precious bundle of joy! As you navigate the beautiful postpartum period, remember that self-care is not selfish but a vital part of your well-being. Embrace the extraordinary journey of motherhood with confidence and love.

Your well-being matters and reaching out to your doctors for support and guidance is crucial to your postpartum care. Remember, it is vital to have regular check-ins with your doctor.

A dedicated and expert team of obstetricians and gynaecologists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide patients with the best care and assistance. Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have any concerns or questions about morning sickness in pregnancy.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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