One of the best piece of advice I had received during my postpartum recovery was, “It took you nine months to get here, give your body nine months to heal.” Every time I felt sick, or fat or ugly or angry about being ill and weak, I reminded myself of this advice and calmed down. Yep, when I could give my body nine months to change beyond belief, why can’t I give it nine months to heal and repair itself?
As I slowly went through my postpartum recovery and thoroughly enjoyed being a mama, I also had to deal with one too many health issues. As I tried to heal my body, I learnt a lot of these health issues were very common after-effects of giving birth. This surprised me, because I had no idea about this and had I known, I could have been better prepared to deal with them later. The more knowledge we mamas have, the better prepared we will be to deal with all the changes we go through postpartum.
Here’s a list of some of the common complications new mommies can face after delivery and how to deal with them.
Some women face various postpartum infections such as kidney infection, yeast infections, urinary infections and infections of the C-section incision.
If pieces of the placenta remain behind in the uterus, it can cause uterine infection. Fever, swollen tender uterus, foul-smelling discharge can indicate uterine infection. This can be treated with a course of antibiotics and should be treated immediately.
Yeast infections are also quite common, especially for women who deliver via C-section. Itching, pain in the vagina and foul-smelling discharge may indicate yeast infections. This can be treated with the help of anti-fungal medications and creams.
C-section incisions can occasionally develop infections which may lead to pus discharge, severe pain and swelling of the incision. A doctor should be consulted immediately who can treat it with a course of antibiotics and painkillers. Women delivering vaginally may also require stitches, which needs to be cleaned well and the area kept dry.
Mastitis is a condition in which the breast gets infected due to the presence of bacteria. Mastitis causes the breast to swell up, become red and can also cause high fever, fatigue, nausea and pain. Mastitis can be caused by dirty clothing, or can be triggered by stress and exhaustion (which lowers the body’s immunity). A round of antibiotics usually takes care of this issue. The good news is that mastitis is not contagious, so mamas can continue feeding their babies without any problem. Warm compressions can help with the pain.
Whether a mama is breastfeeding or not, most often they will face the problem of engorged or swollen breasts. Breasts swell up when the milk comes in and can become hard and painful. This can cause a lot of discomfort. Once a breastfeeding pattern is set up or the baby starts nursing regularly, this problem will ease away. However, for mama’s who do not breastfeed, this may be a challenge right up until the time the breasts stop producing milk. Mamas can get relief from the pain by applying cold packs or wearing well-fitting support bras. Expressing a little amount of milk can also help.
Hemorrhoids and Constipation
Hemorrhoids and Constipation are both very common during pregnancy and in postpartum women. Mamas need to stay well hydrated and follow a fiber-rich diet to tackle this problem. Ointments can also be applied to get relief from the hemorrhoids. Using donut shaped pillows also help ease the pain.
DO NOT use any laxatives or suppositories without first consulting your doctor.
Urinary and Fecal Incontinence
This may not be a very common problem, but some mamas may suffer from urinary and occasionally fecal incontinence right after they give birth. Both of these issues will improve over time and is not dangerous. In the meanwhile, mamas can wear maternity pads or adult diapers to deal with the issue. Sometimes, exercises such as Kegels can also help ease this problem. However, do not perform any kind of exercises during pregnancy or after delivery without the consent of your doctor.
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
A lot of new mamas suffer from postpartum depression and this can interfere with the caring of their babies. Feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious and angry for weeks after delivery signifies the onset of postpartum depression. Feeling less than capable of taking care of the baby and loneliness are also indications that the mama is suffering from PPD. The best way to deal with it is to get support from family and/or friends. Talking to someone about the feelings will help. Support groups or counselling can also help mamas overcome this phase.
This refers to the pain many mamas experience in the area between the vagina and the rectum. This happens for mamas delivering vaginally and can be caused because the stretching and bruising of the area during delivery. This will disappear over time and is not dangerous. However, it should always be checked out by a doctor. Donut shaped pillows also helps ease the discomfort when sitting down.
Vaginal Discharge or Lochia
Every women will start bleeding almost immediately after delivery. This discharge of blood and remains of the placenta (also known as lochia) will continue for few weeks after the delivery. The flow of the discharge is the heaviest in the first few days after the delivery but will start to reduce after about 2 weeks. Most women bleed 2-6 weeks after delivery. However, some women may experience heavier flow and they should consult a doctor if:
– They continue passing blood clots, 3-4 days after delivery
– The blood flow reduces and suddenly increases
– They experience severe cramps
Tenure and severity of vaginal discharge after delivery differs from women to women. Hence if in any doubt, consult your doctor immediately.
Due to the reduced hormonal balance in the body post-delivery, most mamas suffer from moderate to excessive hair loss especially around the time they slow down on breastfeeding (the 6-month mark). This can cause a lot of anguish especially if the hair falls at an alarming rate. Maintaining a proper diet and taking care of the hair through regular washing and trimming can help mamas regain back their lustrous mane over time. If possible, mamas can also cut their hair short post-delivery, for easier maintenance.
Low Milk Supply
Many mamas can face an issue of low milk supply and this can cause them a lot of frustration. Low milk supply can be caused by a host of reasons, foremost being latching problems. If the baby is not latching properly to the breasts, it can cause the milk supply to go low. Lactation nurses can help with this issue significantly. If the baby is not breastfeeding enough, it can also cause low milk supply. The more a baby breastfeeds, the more the body produces milk. For mamas looking to exclusively breastfeed their babies, this problem can cause a lot of stress. However, there are various techniques and herbal medications available that can help increase the milk supply.
Apart from these ten issues, new moms should consult their doctor immediately, if they have any of the following symptoms:
- Continuous fever
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- Severe or increasing pain in the abdomen, vagina, or perineal area
- Severe pain in any part of the body, that refuses to go away
- Chest pain
- Incessant coughing
Let us know if this helped you or if there are any issues that we may have missed in the comments section.