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Recovering from Birth

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The first few days after birth

You’re likely to feel exhausted, sore and uncomfortable after giving birth. It’s also normal to feel unsure about how to look after your baby.

Don’t be afraid to say yes if someone offers to help as you find your feet. If in hospital, make the most of the support around you about caring for your baby, such as feeding and settling techniques.

Priorities

No matter how organised you are, when a baby comes into your life you can find that there are so many unexpected things to do. You should try to prioritise the following:

  • Take time to get to get to know your baby
  • Be willing to ask for and accept as much help as you can from your partner, family and friends
  • Rest as much as you can, try to sleep when your baby does
  • Ensure that you eat and drink regularly.

Contractions or after pains

Once you’ve given birth, contractions don’t immediately disappear. This is because of a number of reasons:

  • Your uterus still has lots of contracting to do to get to its normal size
  • Contractions help slow postpartum bleeding
  • While you breastfeed a hormone (oxytocin) that’s released to let down milk can cause these contractions.

If the pains are persistent, contact your doctor to rule out other causes.

If you’ve had tearing/episiotomy

  • The area between your vagina and anus (the perineum) stretches and thins over your baby’s head when they are born, as a result this can become very swollen and sore
  • Place a wrapped ice pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time, for the first 3 days after birth to help decrease the pain and swelling
  • Have at least one shower or bath a day to help keep the area clean.

You should feel more comfortable in 4 to 6 weeks of giving birth. However, if the pain continues see your doctor or healthcare provider.

Bleeding (lochia)

  • It’s normal to bleed after delivery
  • Every woman is different but this can last from 10 to 14 days to several weeks
  • After the first week it should gradually change from red to dark red to brown and then yellowish white

If the bleeding becomes heavier, you pass large clots or have a sudden heavy loss, you must contact your doctor or midwife as soon as possible.

Going to the toilet

  • It’s normal to feel uncomfortable when you urinate during the first 24 hours after birth
  • In hospital your doctor or nurse will monitor your urine output
  • To assist in bladder & bowel movement, drink plenty of fluids and try walking, as soon as you’re able.

‘Baby blues’

  • Baby blues refer to a range of feelings a mother may go through after birth. With all of the readjustments to your body and hormone levels after child birth, it’s no surprise that you may not feel yourself
  • It’s not uncommon, 2 out 3 new mums find they feel anxious and tearful
  • They tend to appear between 3 and 4 days after giving birth
  • You might find it helpful to share your experience with other new mums, as they are probably going through the same thing

It should pass within a few days. However, if you’re concerned that you have signs of depression, mention it to your GP or healthcare professional.

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