What is a postpartum period?
One of the most significant changes you will notice postpartum is heavy bleeding that will last for several days, potentially up to six weeks after childbirth. This postpartum period is a combination of blood, mucus, placental tissue, and other discharge called lochia. This heavy, long-lasting bleeding occurs because your body is getting rid of the uterine lining that allowed your baby to grow. Over time, your discharge should get significantly lighter and should change from a deep red to a more pinkish color. If your flow continues to be heavy and dark red for several weeks, you should consult a doctor. Also keep an eye out for potential clots. Small clots are normal, but if you notice anything larger than the size of a quarter, or experience abnormal pain, consult your doctor immediately as this could be a sign of postpartum hemorrhaging.
What should I watch out for during the postpartum recovery process?
As you heal, it is important to stay vigilant about the symptoms and physical changes you are experiencing. Some of these changes, including postpartum bleeding, are completely normal, but complications are very serious. If you have a high fever, large clots in your postpartum bleeding, or experience intense pain, you should call your doctor immediately. The likelihood of having an infection or postpartum hemorrhaging is rare, but would require urgent medical attention. Other complications may include a retained placenta or gallstones. The best course of action to avoid these complications is to take complete rest, eat a nutritious and mineral-rich diet, change your postpartum products frequently, and stay hydrated. You should touch base with a medical professional regularly so that they can help to monitor your healing process.
Why am I experiencing bladder leaks?
Postpartum urinary incontinence is a very common and usually temporary condition. This occurs because your pelvic floor muscles have become weakened after undergoing the stress of childbirth. As a result of this weakness, you may experience bladder leaks as a constant flow or when you laugh or sneeze. This is nothing to worry about, and with the right incontinence products you will be able to manage your postpartum period and urinary incontinence simultaneously. Depending on your flow and absorbency needs, postpartum briefs, pads, or liners are essential to helping you stay clean and fresh. Dietary adjustments and behavioral changes may also help accelerate your recovery as you cope with bladder leaks.
Should I consult a pelvic floor therapy specialist?
Even if you do not experience particular complications or pain postpartum, it is a good idea to seek out the help of a pelvic floor therapy specialist. You can find a specialist near you at this directory. A professional can guide you on the proper technique for kegel exercises and other pelvic floor therapy exercises which are essential in helping your pelvic floor muscles recover. They can also direct you to products that can help in your recovery or exercise routine. If you experience urinary incontinence, a relatively common experience postpartum, you should definitely seek out pelvic floor therapy. Bladder leaks occur because of the weakened pelvic floor that allows urine to slip out. A specialist can work with you and suggest behavioral adjustments that can help you manage your bladder leaks in addition to your postpartum period. Postpartum pads, liners, or briefs in the product guide above can be used to absorb urine as well. As you ease into a moderate exercise regimen several days after childbirth, incorporating pelvic floor therapy exercises is a great way to ensure a speedy and healthy recovery.
How can I avoid infection postpartum?
After giving birth, your skin is especially sensitive, and requires extra attention and care. This means not inserting tampons into your vagina to absorb your postpartum period. Rather, you should opt for postpartum pads or briefs. Additionally, you should purchase disposable mesh underwear to make it easy to dispose of during your heavy flow. Most importantly, make sure that your postpartum pads are dermatologist approved and do not include artificial ingredients. Synthetic fragrances should be avoided, and this list of the “toxic twelve” includes other ingredients to watch out for. All natural products will be gentle on your sensitive skin and allow for maximum comfort. No matter what product you choose to use, be sure to change your postpartum pads or briefs every few hours to further preempt infection.
What is postpartum depression?
On top of all of the physical changes you may experience, your body may undergo significant psychological changes as well. Postpartum blues, or feeling down, is very common. However, you should rigorously monitor your symptoms for postpartum depression, which is more severe and long-lasting and requires treatment from a medical professional. Postpartum depression is a form of major depression occurring roughly 4 weeks after childbirth. Physical hormonal changes and emotional changes may both contribute to the condition. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, fatigue, mood swings, appetite changes, or panic attacks. If you notice these symptoms persisting in a way that interferes with your daily life, you should seek help immediately. Postpartum depression is common, and there is absolutely no shame in seeking help. It is a readily treatable condition but requires the aid of a professional.
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