Are you a new mother struggling with the changes in your body? Do you notice changes in your physical and emotional being and need help addressing them?
Adjusting to motherhood is not easy. New moms have to endure sleepless nights after welcoming their baby, but aside from that, they also have to endure various changes in their bodies. Some experience weight loss and others end with stretch marks after their pregnancy.
If you are a new mom and have a lot of things going on that you are having a hard time understanding yourself, stop what you are doing and breathe. Don’t be too harsh on yourself because this is the time that you have to be kinder to yourself.
Taking home a new baby is bliss, but it also presents both physical and emotional challenges that not all moms are physically and emotionally ready to combat.
This article is created to help you go through the first weeks of being a mom, which is also probably the hardest. I will discuss the common postpartum discomforts and what you can do to address them.
However, if you feel the need to contact a health care provider like obstetricians and gynecologists, do not hesitate to do it because some health conditions need medical care.
What Is Postpartum Care?
Postpartum care refers to the first few weeks after childbirth. A postpartum period refers to the six weeks after your delivery.
It’s a joyous time but also a period of adjustment and healing for mothers. During these weeks, you will bond with your baby and you will have a post-delivery checkup with your doctor.
To give you an overview, your body changes after giving birth and that’s natural. Usually, new moms experience physical changes like their breasts getting full of milk. But aside from that, mothers who just give birth also encounter emotional changes like feeling extra stress or anxious than normal.
Mothers go through many discomforts and most are signs or symptoms of a health problem that need to be addressed. Thus, it is recommended that you do postpartum checkups with a health care provider if you feel that you need it.
A health care provider can help you spot and treat health conditions that you can’t spot on. Postpartum care is important because new moms are at risk of serious and sometimes life-threatening health complications in the days and weeks after giving birth. So, be open to the possibility of meeting your doctor or the obstetricians and gynecologists who helped you during your pregnancy.
Immediate Postpartum Care Tips
Adjusting to motherhood is not easy. It takes time and not all the mothers have the luxury to prepare themselves once their babies arrive.
But the good news is that you can slowly work on your postpartum care and incorporate it into your daily routine. Here are some things you can immediately do to make yourself feel better.
Get enough rest. Most moms have to endure sleepless nights which only added to their tiredness and fatigue. Babies wake up every two to three hours for feeding. You can sleep train your little child so they will be able to sleep on their own. This can allow you to get plenty of rest and you’ll be able sleep when your babies sleep.
Seek help. If you don’t understand what you are feeling, feel free to reach out and ask for help from your family and friends. Your body needs to heal and you need to rest, so if you need a break, don’t be shy to ask for assistance from the people around you. Your friends and family can help you with household chores, prepare meals, run errands or help care for your other children or babies at home.
Eat healthy meals. You have to maintain a healthy diet to promote fast healing after your pregnancy. So, you should consume more whole grains, vegetables, fruits and protein. Also, increase your fluid intake when breast feeding.
Doing chores and hobbies. You also need to nourish yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Since babies sleep during the day, do other activities in the house like cooking, reading, watching TV, playing music, exercise, yoga, or other hobbies you love to do. You can use baby monitors to watch them in case you’re in another room. There are different baby alarm system you can use like wi-fi baby monitors, or bluetooth baby monitors. You can also try simple options like non wi-fi baby monitors or portable baby monitor.
Nursing Care Plan for Postpartum Normal Delivery
Here are some conditions that moms usually experience after pregnancy. Some of the postpartum care plans here may also apply to C-section delivery.
If you encounter the same, you can try the recommended solution to ease your discomfort while recovering.
1. Uterine contractions and bleeding
Contractions or afterpains help shrink the uterus to its size before your pregnancy. It will also stop excess bleeding. Your uterus will eventually return to its pre-pregnancy size after the postpartum period.
What to do
• Ask a family member to buy you pain medicine
2. Vaginal Soreness
Moms who had a vaginal tear during delivery or when a doctor made an incision, the wound might hurt for a few weeks. The extensive tears may take weeks to heal. Some refer to this as soreness of perineum. Perineum refers to the skin between the vagina and anal opening and it is very sensitive.
What to do
• Sit on a pillow or padded ring
• Cool the area with an ice pack or place a chilled witch hazel pad between a sanitary napkin and the area between your vaginal opening and anus (Perineum). Use ice packs for 10 minutes at a time and repeat throughout the day
• Use a squeeze bottle to pour warm water over the perineum as you’re passing urine.
• Sit in a warm bath just deep enough to cover your buttocks and hips for five minutes. Use cold water if you find it more soothing.
• Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Ask your health care provider about a numbing spray or cream.
• Talk to your health care provider about using a stool softener or laxative to prevent constipation.
3. Vaginal Discharge
After giving birth to your baby, your body gets rid of the blood and tissue that was inside your uterus. The condition is called vaginal discharge or lochia. The bleeding in the first few days after pregnancy will be heavy, bright red and may contain blood clots.
But over time, the flow gets less and lighter in color. The discharge may last from a few weeks to a month or more.
What to do
• Use sanitary pads until the discharge stops.
4. Breast Engorgement
A few days after delivering your baby or babies, your breasts will swell as they fill with milk. The breasts may feel tender and sore, but the discomfort usually goes away once you breastfeed your babies regularly.
For moms who don’t breastfeed, it may last until the breasts stop making milk and it usually lasts within a few days.
What to do
• Breastfeed your baby. Do not miss a feeding or skip night feedings.
• Before breastfeeding the baby, express a small amount of milk from the breast using a breast pump or by hand. Get to know best breastfeeding positions for your newborn here.
• Take a warm shower or lay warm towels on your breasts to help milk flow. If the engorgement is really painful, put cold packs on your breasts.
• If the breasts are leaking between feedings, wear nursing pads in the bra to avoid getting your clothes from getting wet.
• Consult a health care provider if your breasts continue to stay swollen and painful
• If you are not planning to breastfeed, better wear a firm and supportive bra like a sports bra.
5. Nipple Pain
One of the most challenging experiences new moms complain especially when breastfeeding is nipple pain. New moms experience nipple cracks leading to sore and painful nipples.
If the discomfort is too much, you may talk to your doctor or other health care professionals so you can get pain medicine or other solutions to your predicament.
What to do
• Consult lactation consultants to be sure if the baby is latching up on to your breasts in the right way. Lactations consultants are trained to help moms learn to breastfeed. Latching on is when your baby’s mouth is securely attached to place around your nipple.
• Ask a provider about a cream that you can apply on the nipples to relieve pain that is safe for breastfeeding moms and babies.
• Massage some breast milk onto your nipples.
• Let your breasts air dry.
Many mothers experience swelling in their hands, feet and face during pregnancy. It is caused by extra fluids in the body and it may take time for the swelling to go away after you give birth.
What to do
• Lie on the left side when resting or sleeping
• Put the feet up
• Stay cool and wear loose clothes
• Drink plenty of water
Hemorrhoids are also known as piles. It occur when there’s too much pressure on the veins around your anus – this swollen veins located around the anus or in the lower rectum.
Hemorrhoids can either be internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids develop within the anus or rectum while external hemorrhoids develop outside the anus.
The external hemorrhoids are the most common and most troublesome. It can cause pain, severe itching, and difficulty sitting. Fortunately, they’re treatable.
What to do
• Soak in a warm bath.
• Ask your provider about using an over-the-counter spray or cream for pain.
• Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain bread and cereals.
• Drink lots of water.
• Try not to strain when you’re having a bowel movement (pooping).
• Avoid foods with little or no fiber like cheese, chips, fast food, ice cream, meat, processed foods
Your bowel movement may change after your pregnancy. Constipation is often a normal yet annoying, discomfort that can be caused by several factors related to what’s happening to your body before, during and after giving birth.
Constipation is defined as fewer than three bowel movements a week and/or less often than your normal bathroom habits. It is common after giving birth.
What to do
• Eat foods that are high in fiber
• Drink plenty of water.
• Ask your provider about medicine to take.
• Don’t ignore the urge to poop
• Try warm liquids, especially in the morning
• Eat prunes and bran cereal
9. Night Sweats
New moms sometimes wake up warm and sweaty in the middle of the night. They felt too hot or snuggling.
The condition is called “night sweats” which could be a side effect of a medication or symptom of a medical issue like anxiety, hyperthyroidism, obstructive sleep apnea or menopause.
What to do
• Drink plenty of water
• Cool down the room temperature
• Wear loose and light layer pajamas
• Apply talc-free powder to prevent rashes
• Sleep on a towel to keep your sheets and pillows dry
• Don’t use too many blankets or warm clothes to bed
10. Urinary Problems
Women who give birth tend to experience pain or burning sensation when they pee. Some try to urinate but they can’t and sometimes one can’t stop urinating which is called incontinence.
The good thing is that it usually goes away when the pelvic muscles become stronger again.
What to do
• Drink lots of water
• Run water in the sink when you go to the bathroom
• Soak in a warm bath
• Contact the provider if the pain continues
• You can also do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles
11. Emotional Changes
Having a baby is a big change in your life. After you give birth, your hormone levels drop, which impacts your mood.
Your newborn is probably waking up at all hours, too, so you aren’t getting enough sleep. That alone can make you irritable.
You’re not the first mom to deal with these emotional ups and downs. Up to 80% of new mothers get what’s called the “baby blues” — short-term dips in mood caused by all of the changes that come with a new baby.
What to do
• Accept or ask for help from friends and family – Help with meals, shopping, cleaning, and other errands can take pressure off of you. Consider hiring a cleaning service or teenager to take over cleaning duties for a while.
• If visitors stress you out, limit them. Common to feel sadness, anxiety or irritability.
• Sleep whenever you can
• Nourish yourself – Eat well and drink plenty of fluids
• Exercise- Exercise is a great way to increase your energy and sense of well-being.
• Make time for relaxation each day – Set aside for listening to music, watching TV, mediating, shower and etc. Even 10 min. can help
• Find time every day for you and your partner to be alone and talk
• Spend time enjoying your baby every day – Don’t get too focused on feeding and changing diapers
• Ask questions – Call your medical care team if you have concerns.
12. Postpartum Depression
It is estimated that almost one in five new mothers experiences various degrees of postpartum depression.
According to the DSM-5, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, PPD is a form of major depression that begins within four weeks after delivery.
What to do
• Rest as much as possible.
• Don’t put pressure on yourself to do everything.
• Ask for help with chores and night feedings.
• Talk with family and friends about how you are feeling.
• Get out of the house.
• Spend time with your partner.
• Talk with other mothers.
• Join a support group.
• Avoid other major life changes during this time.
Postpartum depression isn’t character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.
Postpartum Care Products
Since new moms go through some changes in their body and mind, you have to keep yourself ready to experience any of the aforementioned conditions regardless if you have a vaginal birth or C-section.
In this section, I’ll give you an overview on the different supplies you need to help you relieve whatever you are feeling.
Vaginal bleeding and discharge are normal for new mothers regardless if the delivery is via normal birth or C-section. The bleeding occurs for the body to get rid of extra blood and tissue in the uterus. Here are some must-haves after delivery.
• Maternity pads
• Mesh underwear
• Chux pads
• Large comfortable underwears
Soothing soreness supplies
As mentioned above, new moms tend to experience soreness in various parts of their bodies including vagina, breasts and nipples. To relieve yourself from the discomfort, secure yourself with the following items.
• Sitz bath
• Ice packs
• Tuck pads
• Donut pillows
• Witch hazel pads
• Numbing products
• Pain killers (you can buy over the counter medicine for this)
• Squirt bottle filled with warm or cold water
• Gauze pads or disposable washcloths
Supplies for C-Section
For those who had a C-Section, the following items will come handy to you, so make sure that you are ready with them for your own comfort and .
• Stool softener
• Pillow for belly
• Soft and loose fitting clothing
Breast care supplies
Mothers automatically produce breast milk whether you are planning to breastfeed or not. After a few weeks, your milk production is based on the supply and demand and these are the things that you will need.
• Supportive bra
• Breast pads
• Nipple Cream
• Breastfeeding pillow
Since newborn have immediate needs, you may want to use baby monitors to track them in every second in case you need to do something in other places of the house. Here are some of the useful ones in post partum care.
• Baby Breathing Monitors
• Baby Heartbeat Monitors
New mothers experience various changes in their physical, emotional and mental well-being. If you have just welcomed your baby and you notice tons of changes within yourself, that’s normal.
I hope the list above will help you identify what you are going through. Also, please try the recommended postpartum care plans and let us know if it works for you.
Mommies, all the changes you are experiencing are normal and it may take a few weeks or even months until they go away.
If you feel the need to seek medical advice, you can talk to your doctor. Don’t be shy to open up about your struggles, embrace it and seek treatment if needed because it is important for your healing and recovery.
If you like to learn more about other postpartum and baby care tips, please check our home page.