Giving birth is a big physical event, and the body takes time to recover. Be patient with yourself and listen to your body.
It is normal to have vaginal bleeding and discharge (lochia) in the first few weeks after childbirth. This usually turns a brown colour and decreases over time.
In order to regain strength, new mothers should rest and try not to overdo it. They should also eat well and drink plenty of water (especially if breastfeeding). Women should be encouraged to accept help from others, especially in the form of household chores, meal preparation and baby care. They should continue taking their prenatal vitamins, preferably with iron, and should continue with folic acid supplements as well.
Women should be urged to visit their doctor or maternity care provider as soon as possible after birth, and no later than 24 hours after delivery. They should be given a thorough history and physical examination. This includes checking the uterus, perineum and incision line of a caesarean section, as well as asking about how she is adjusting to motherhood and her emotional and mental state.
Women should be encouraged to eat a variety of healthy foods, even if they are struggling with poverty. This is important because poor diet is the leading cause of maternal deaths and malnutrition during pregnancy is a risk factor for postpartum complications. They should be reminded of danger signs for their newborn and encouraged to discuss these with a doctor. Ideally, they should take their birth certificate with them to every postnatal visit to ensure that this information is documented. This will also make it easier for a doctor to check for the risks of postpartum hemorrhage, infection and cardiovascular disease.
A wide range of emotions come with the territory after a birth, and it’s normal to feel a mix of feelings from happiness and gratitude to regret or sadness. These are real emotional responses to a major life change, and can be compounded by hormone changes, sleep deprivation and the physical stresses of breastfeeding and caring for a new baby.
It’s also important to remember that if you are feeling overwhelmed or that you may not be coping, it’s important to seek help from your midwife or GP. There are many things that can help with this, including support groups of other mums, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy.
Generally, symptoms such as being tired, irritable or a low appetite are mild and will pass. However, if they are severe and don’t pass, it is likely you are experiencing postnatal depression and it’s important to seek help as soon as possible.
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a questionnaire that asks questions about how you’ve been since the birth, is one way healthcare professionals can screen for depression. If you think you are experiencing this, it is important to speak to a health professional as early as possible, as it can have serious consequences for you and your baby if left untreated. It can also increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Postpartum care is a vital aspect of the birth process that helps ensure that you’re recovering properly. You should visit your doctor or midwife frequently so that they can check your blood pressure, perineum and C-section scar. Visiting regularly also gives you the opportunity to ask your provider any questions you may have about your recovery.
In a recent study, women who had perineal trauma experienced emotional recovery through a journey from negative emotions to subjective well-being. The study findings promoted our understanding of the recovery processes in women who experienced trauma after childbirth. The study also highlighted the importance of caregivers in identifying and responding to these women’s emotional needs.
The researchers who led this study identified gaps in instructions for home follow-up after cesarean birth, and convened a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to develop consensus guidelines to be included with the discharge information given to women. TAG members based their work on an extensive review of the literature and expert opinions, as well as discussions during three meetings. The TAG members were diverse in their backgrounds and professional experience, including maternal health care professionals working in rural Rwanda and other SSA contexts. They were able to agree on the first draft of instructions to be provided upon discharge, and recommendations for formal follow-up visits with health sector CHWs, including when and how they should be conducted.
Many women feel sad or low in mood after a birth. This can be because of the enormous physical, emotional and social changes involved in becoming a parent. It may also be because of hormone changes, or it can be a sign of postnatal depression (PND). PND can range from feeling mildly depressed to paralysing sadness. It affects around 1 in 10 women. It can cause a great strain on relationships, but it can improve once the woman is well treated. It is important for her to get help and support from family, friends and health care workers.
It is normal to feel a bit down and anxious in the first week after a birth. This is called the ‘baby blues’ and is caused by hormonal changes. It is a good idea to talk about how you are feeling with your partner, midwife or health visitor. If you continue to feel down and anxious for more than two weeks, it is worth seeing your GP or calling the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby helpline on 1800 882 436.
This is a mental health problem and it needs to be treated. Most women with this condition make a full recovery. A specialist mother and baby unit can provide expert treatment without separating you from your baby. This can help you to overcome the illness and return to your usual self. Postnatal recovery