What is postpartum discharge?
During postpartum, you will likely experience heavy bleeding that is a combination of blood, mucus, placental tissue, and other discharge. This bloody discharge is called lochia, and can persist for up to six weeks after childbirth. This is your body’s way of getting rid of the uterus lining that developed throughout pregnancy. Your flow should get lighter and less bloody over time, and you should consult a doctor if an extremely heavy flow continues for several weeks. It is likely to be dark red for about three days, and should be lighter and more pink in subsequent days. Small clots and uterine cramps are normal, but alert your doctor if you notice clots larger than a quarter or experience significant pain, as this could be a sign of medical complications.
What are postpartum pads?
Postpartum pads are soft, light, and absorbent pads specially designed to absorb heavy postpartum bleeding. You should prepare for postpartum by getting some pads ahead of time so that you can prepare for your postpartum period. Be sure to look at the ingredients of the products you buy, as synthetic ingredients and artificial fragrances can irritate your skin, which is likely to be especially insensitive postpartum. This list of the “toxic twelve” includes some ingredients that you should make sure to avoid when selecting products that are right for you. If you want heavier absorbency, you can go for postpartum briefs, and panty liners are a good option for light flow. With this product guide, you can identify the products that are best for your needs. You may want to buy pads or briefs for the first few days and liners for when your flow lightens. Be sure to change your pads or briefs every couple of hours, or less frequently as your flow gets lighter. You can also get some disposable mesh underwear to help manage your postpartum period.
Why does urinary incontinence happen postpartum?
In addition to your postpartum period, you may experience temporary urinary incontinence postpartum. Bladder leaks can happen because your pelvic floor muscles may be weakened from the stress of childbirth, making it easy for urine to slip out. Leaks can happen throughout the day, or when you laugh, sneeze, or cough. This is normal, and your postpartum pads or briefs can be used to manage your bladder leaks in addition to your postpartum period. You may want to change your pads more often if they are being used to absorb blood as well as urine. Temporary incontinence is normal, and is nothing to worry about.
What else can I do to manage my bladder leaks?
Aside from postpartum pads and other products you may use, you can also consider the help of a pelvic floor therapy specialist who can help you rebuild strength in your pelvic floor muscles. A specialist, who you can find at this directory, can show you the proper technique for kegels and other pelvic floor exercises that you can do as you recover. This will strengthen your muscles and accelerate your recovery. You may also experience constipation, and should drink lots of fluids and consult your doctor if that occurs. A specialist can also help you with abdominal exercises that can help your core muscles recover faster and accelerate the process of losing excess weight from pregnancy.
How do I manage discomfort during my postpartum period?
Painkillers can help to alleviate the discomfort you may feel with the heavy bleeding as you recover. Additionally, warm baths, epsom salt baths, or cooling pads can help minimize your pain. Be sure to consult a doctor before using epsom salts or painkillers, as they may have specific advice. You may also be experiencing swelling or bloating, as it is normal to have some fluid retention leading to swollen feet. It is important to stay well hydrated and have a nutritious diet with lots of fruits and vitamin-rich vegetables as your body slowly readjusts. Perhaps most importantly, be sure you are getting enough sleep both at night and during the day when your baby is napping.
What medical complications should I be aware of?
As you experience postpartum bleeding, some pain and discomfort is to be expected. However, you should keep an eye out for more severe medical complications, especially hemorrhaging, prolapses or pre-eclampsia. A hemorrhage is an instance of severely heavy bleeding that requires immediate medical attention. If you have persistently heavy bleeding, large clots, dizziness, or fever, you should consult a doctor immediately. During a prolapse, your organs (bladder, urethra, or uterus) may shift, putting pressure on your vagina and creating discomfort. Depending on its severity, you may need to either take more rest or get surgery. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor if you experience pressure or other types of persistent discomfort in your vagina, especially if painkillers are not sufficient in helping you feel better. Pre-eclampsia is high blood pressure that you may have experienced during pregnancy, and can also occur several weeks postpartum. Both of these complications require medical attention, and it is important to watch out for them.
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