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Your Postpartum Body

Your Postpartum Body

What changes to expect postpartum

After undergoing the stress of childbirth, changes to your body are to be expected. Hormonal shifts, fatigue, and stress all tire out your body and make it crucial for you to rest. It is important to expect these changes and prepare for them by procuring a postpartum care kit with any essentials you may need, such as painkillers, disposable underwear, and postpartum pads or briefs. Especially the first few days after childbirth, you will likely experience body aches and heavy vaginal bleeding. It is important to take rest in order for your body to heal during this time. Other changes may include stretch marks and weight fluctuations. A consultation with a medical professional can help you make nutritional adjustments and other lifestyle changes to ensure that you are getting the nutrients that you need to minimize fatigue. Hydrating can help with bloating and swollen feet.

What should I include in my postpartum care kit?

A postpartum care kit is a vital step in preparing for your healing journey postpartum. You should stock up on supplies including postpartum pads, liners, or briefs, and disposable mesh underwear. You may experience heavy bleeding for several days, and many people also experience urinary incontinence postpartum. You can purchase incontinence products to manage bladder leaks. These products can be multipurpose and can help you manage your incontinence symptoms in addition to heavy bleeding. Other items for your postpartum care kit include cooling pads for discomfort, and epsom salts (consult your doctor before taking epsom salt baths). If your bleeding flow continues to be very heavy for more than a couple weeks, contact your doctor.

What are postpartum pads? 

Postpartum pads are soft, light, and absorbent pads specially designed to absorb heavy postpartum bleeding. You should shop for pads that are dermatologist-approved, and use natural ingredients. Your skin will be especially sensitive during this period, so be sure to take extra measures to protect yourself from irritation. 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. No matter what you select, be sure to change your pads, liners, or briefs regularly to stay fresh and avoid infection. For the first few days, you should change them every couple of hours, but may need to do so less frequently as you recover.


Why does urinary incontinence happen postpartum?

After childbirth, your pelvic floor muscles have just undergone a tremendous amount of stress and are likely to be weakened. Because of this, you may experience temporary urinary incontinence in the form of bladder leaks. You may find that you have bladder leaks throughout the day, or when you laugh or sneeze. This is normal, and incontinence products can help you manage your leaks as you heal. A pelvic floor therapy specialist can help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles as you recover. Kegels and other pelvic floor exercises are good for rebuilding muscle strength, but consult a professional to avoid over-exerting yourself immediately postpartum. It is important to consult a specialist to make sure you are adopting proper technique for physical therapy exercises. You can find a pelvic floor therapy specialist at this directory, and they can assist you with 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.


What medical complications should I be aware of?

As you recover, you should watch out for symptoms of prolapses or pre-eclampsia. A prolapse is a postpartum complication when your uterus, bladder, or urethra may shift and exert pressure in your vagina. This can create uncomfortable sensations, and require medical attention. Depending on the severity of your prolapse, you may have to simply spend more time resting or require surgery. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor if you experience pressure or other types of discomfort in your vagina. Pre-eclampsia is high blood pressure that you may have experienced during pregnancy and up to several weeks postpartum. Your doctor can advise you on your blood pressure levels and prescribe treatment as needed.

What is postpartum depression?

Along with the many physical changes you may experience after childbirth, psychological effects are common. Many people experience “postpartum blues,” which may include mood swings and feelings of sadness and anxiety. However, postpartum depression is more severe and long-lasting, and requires treatment from a mental health professional. If you notice symptoms including extreme sadness, feelings of worthlessness, or panic attacks that persist for weeks after childbirth, notify your doctor. You can also find support groups to connect with other people who are going through postpartum recovery. Postpartum depression is very treatable, and you are not alone in your experience. There is no shame in seeking help for your symptoms.

What can I do to feel less tired?

On top of the physical exertion of childbirth, changes in hormonal levels and blood loss is likely to make you feel extremely fatigued. It is important to take rest as much as possible and delegate tasks like meal prep to friends and family. Aside from sleeping and napping as much as possible, you can eat healthy vitamin-rich foods including fruits and vegetables, and drink lots of water. You should ask your doctor about physical activity, and can engage in moderate exercise when you are feeling up to it. Do not feel any rush or pressure to recover - everyone’s body is different, and your recovery time frame may look a little different from others you know.

 

Want More on Postpartum Health?  

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