POSTPARTUM RECOVERY

Caring For Your Delivery Wound

How Do I Care For My Wound?

The average recovery period from swelling, soreness, and stitches is around 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery. A C-section requires up to 12 weeks for complete healing.

 

Stitches from getting an episiotomy may take 7-14 days to heal. Clean the wound and stitches thoroughly with warm water or antiseptics after using the toilet. Refrain from wiping with dry toilet paper as this could irritate the area. Contact your doctor if the pain worsens as this could be a sign of infection.

 

Recovering from stitches gained through C-section may take longer. Though surface stitches will heal within 1 week, the stitches in your muscle layer will not completely heal until around 3 months. Contact your doctor if you notice any signs of infection (redness, swelling or pus, or if you develop a fever).

 

Other Changes Post Delivery

Though most of your time will be focused on tending to your newborn’s needs, it is still important to get sufficient rest and nutrition as your body recovers from the childbirth process. During this period, you may notice the following changes in your body:

 

• Postpartum Bleeding (Lochia)

Vaginal bleeding that seems to be heavier than a typical period (lochia) will gradually become lighter and intermittent. It will fully stop after about 4 to 6 weeks post-delivery. It is advised to use maxi pads rather than tampons, and change your pads regularly to prevent any infection for postpartum bleeding. Call your obstetrician if you’re bleeding heavily.

 

• Hormonal Changes

You also experience symptoms such as hair loss, acne, night sweats and mood swings due to changes in your progesterone levels and estrogen levels.

 

• Cramps

Abdominal cramping is expected as your uterus contracts to its pre-pregnancy size. Applying heat using a heating pad or hot water bottle to the area can help ease the pain.

 

• Weakened Bladder Muscles

You may feel the urge to urinate often as the stress of a vaginal delivery may temporarily weaken the bladder. Some women may experience temporary incontinence as a side effect.

 

• Constipation and Haemorrhoids

Constipation is commonly experienced postpartum, and some women may have haemorrhoids which causes pain and bleeding after bowel movement. Drink plenty of water and consume fruits to ease constipation naturally.

 

• Emotional Changes

Some new mothers may struggle with the ‘baby blues’ or feelings of being overwhelmed dealing with a baby. However, if these emotions are causing an inability to function and you suspect you may have postpartum depression, call your doctor and seek advice.

Breastfeeding Your Baby

It is advisable to start breastfeeding post-delivery when your newborn is placed on your chest. Breastfeeding requires patience and practice, and it is normal for newborn babies to have trouble latching onto the mother’s nipple.

 

How Do I Breastfeed?

Bring your baby forward towards the breast instead of placing the breast into his/her mouth. The baby’s mouth should cover both and nipple and areola, with the baby’s chin and tip of the nose touching your breast. There should be a suckling motion in your baby’s cheek, jaw and ear followed by sounds of swallowing to indicate proper extraction of breast milk. Watch this step-by-step video guide on the latching technique for proper breastfeeding.

 

How Often Should I Breastfeed?

As regular nursing produces more milk, new mothers should try to nurse frequently (8 – 12 times, every 24 hours). As the frequency varies between babies, feeding on demand rather than on schedule may result in better feeds. Allow your baby to fully finish from one breast before offering the second one. You may need to gently wake your newborn as he or she may fall asleep during feeding in first week.

 

A breastfeeding session may take up to 40 minutes during the first few months. Find a comfortable position for yourself and your baby and support the back of your baby’s head during feeding with your hand or a pillow.

 

Sore Breasts and Nipples

Your breasts will become heavier and sore as your body produces milk for breastfeeding. The heaviness should subside within several weeks after delivery (if your breasts feel hard, swollen and painful, they may be engorged). Women are advised to breastfeed exclusively if possible for the first 6 months after giving birth. However, if you are having trouble expressing milk or if your baby is not latching correctly, contact a lactation consultant through your obstetrician for help.

 

Confinement

Usually observed in Asian cultures, confinement is the immediate period after birth for both the new mother and baby. The aim is to allow mothers to recover from childbirth. Traditionally, both mother and baby stayed indoors during the confinement period in order to prevent them from falling sick.

 

• Confinement Care

There are several confinement practices mothers are encouraged to observe including taking cold baths and turning on the air conditioning and fans around the house, bathing in herb-infused water and avoiding washing their hair during confinement. These practices are thought to help the body retain its heat and avoid future problems such as arthritis and rheumatism. Accept help from your spouse, family members or hire a confinement nanny to help you with tasks such as caring for your newborn, household chores and confinement meal preparation for the first few months.

 

• Nutrition

There might be certain confinement diets that can help new mothers boost their immunity and regain their strength. Dishes with “heaty” ingredients and food that is believed to increase breast milk supply is preferred. “Cooling” dishes should be avoided, such as cold drinks, cucumber, pineapple, sugarcane, as these can prolong the recovery period. Caffeine and alcohol must be avoided for the period of breastfeeding as these substances can be transferred into the breast milk.

 

Tips for a Restful Confinement

Hiring a confinement nanny, accepting help from your spouse or family to help with caring for your newborn, household chores and confinement meal preparation.

 

Avoid doing rigorous activities until you have received the green light from your doctor to resume your normal daily activities.

 

Pregnancy weight can be shed from breastfeeding and the demands of caring for your baby. You should eat nutritiously and try to get some rest in between caring for your baby to help you regain your strength.

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