Being prepared for the period after pregnancy can help mothers cope with the expectations a lot better. Most women tend to read and research everything about their pregnancy, the first, second and third trimester, but they almost always forget months after delivery, a period in which everything changes once again. Mothers go through body changes, mood changes and priorities shift. In order to better prepare, one must know what to expect.
After delivery, approx 8 weeks, mothers once again experience bladder issues and incontinence with their frequent visits to the toilet. Leakage is common when sneezing and coughing, and the reason is the shifted position of the bladder. Before pregnancy, pelvic muscles and ligaments prevent leakage, but since the blade has shifted to the position where the baby came out, involuntary peeing is common. Mothers can resolve the issue with Kegel exercises (exercise of pelvic floor muscles), but the condition resolves itself within 8 weeks.
After delivery, the first six weeks, mothers experience soreness in their vagina, causing sometimes troubles even when sitting down. This condition occurs due to giving birth, as the area between the vagina and the anus has swollen and torn. However, the body repairs itself, and within six weeks, the soreness diminishes. Good advice for future mothers is to use pillows to ease the pain when sitting.
After childbirth, breasts produce colostrum (pre breast milk) for the first few days, and the system determines how much milk mothers need to produce. Until that is determined, breasts engorge and swell. Wearing a supportive bra prevents pain. Another trick is to pump out excess milk, but not too much, as the body continues to create milk. The pain starts around day 3 and lasts a few days.
Beside soreness, mothers also experience vaginal bleeding, also from childbirth up until week 6. The reason is the uterus has sloughed off tissues, resulting in slight bleeding. Another reason is uterus and blood vessels within it are shrinking. Color can vary from bright/dark red to pink, and to a yellowish discharge. Any activity can trigger bleeding during the first six weeks. Bleeding is normal and there is no cause for concern.
Like in many other cases, hair loss and thinning after delivery is linked with hormones. During pregnancy, mothers experience less hair loss, as the hair is in the growth phase. However, once they give birth, hair goes back to shedding phase, resulting in extensive hair loss. Some women may not experience hair loss, some may even experience bald spots, but everything goes back to normal within five months.
Cramps can range from mild to contraction-like, as the uterus is shrinking back to normal, pre-pregnancy size. Breastfeeding worsens the condition, as it reduces oxytocin, hormone causing contractions. Some massage may ease the pain.
Almost every mom has to go through baby blues, but around 20% suffer from more serious postpartum depression. Crying, anxiety, and inability to sleep are first symptoms. Best way to counter depression is to dedicate some time for socializing. Life changes in the first several months for new moms and the support from their partner is imperative during this period. Mothers should try and spend some time with themselves and with friends (especially experienced mothers).
Skin Pigmentation Loss
During pregnancy, due to increased production of estrogen, mothers are faced with linea nigra (a form of hyperpigmentation). Once they give birth, lines fade, and pigmentation goes back to normal. The condition can last for one year, and prevention is recommended. Sun exposure is not recommended, but when necessary, mothers should use SPF 35 or above.
Unlike linea nigre, stretch marks can be surgically removed, but it is an expensive procedure. The good news is with time and exercise diminish stretch marks and are less visible.
Constant baby crying and care for the baby in the first several weeks and months takes a toll on new parents. Most parents suffer from lack of sleep, which results in irritability, lack of concentration and messy decision makings. Health risks include higher exposure to illness and viruses. There is no other way to counter sleep deprivation except with more rest and sleep. New parents should try to get some sleep as much as they can. Taking turns, hiring a sitter and sleeping when the baby sleeps are common solutions.
Linea nigra appears during pregnancy and doesn’t diminish for several months after delivery. Drinking plenty of fluids is one form of prevention, but linea nigra is considered by many a badge of motherhood and necessary, evil.
Some mothers run to the gym way too early. They all want to get their weight and daily exercise routine back to normal. However, consulting with a physician is the first order of business. Exercise provides benefits for overall physical and mental health.
Priorities shift for new mothers, and husbands are not used to this type of ignorance and lack of attention. Babies present a new challenge for the relationship. How couples manage time and attention towards one another is an important aspect of the marriage, and the baby is the biggest challenge to the success of the relationship. Try to dedicate at least a few minutes during the day to one another. Parenting is tiring, and only the most supportive and understanding people succeed.
On The Sex Front
As with the relationship, sex suffers in the first few months. Tiredness, fatigue, lack of sleep and many factors affect the sex life of new parents. Mothers need to wait a few weeks before they can start having sex, mainly due to health reasons. However, couples can keep their romance and intimacy flowing by cuddling, kissing and other forms of showing love and affection.
Older Siblings and New Babies
Siblings react to newborn babies in many different ways. Their reactions go from one extreme level (total ignorance and jealousy) to another (transformation into mom/dad role). For parents, communication with other kids is essential for building a healthy relationship, and this starts even before childbirth.
Mothers are not the only ones that experience changes, babies do too. This is normal, as babies adjust to a whole new life.
The first few days after childbirth, babies sleep for 16 hours in 24 hours. This provides mothers time to sleep and rest and they should take advantage of the time as much as possible. Not long after, babies sleep less, they wake up more often, and there is no frequency pattern. Babies can sleep two, three, four or five hours and they make no difference between night and day. Establishing a routine early on is essential, but mothers should not hesitate to ask for help from their partner and relatives in order to get some sleep. Fixed schedules help and teach babies to relax and anticipate sleep.
Since babies don’t talk at the start, crying is their form of communication. With crying, they try to tell parents they are hungry, they are cold, or simply not comfortable. Babies can cry between two and four hours per day, but after a few weeks, parents are able to tell which cry is for what.
Babies get hungry approximately every three hours. However, this can vary in their size and appetite, and whether mothers breastfeed or bottle-feed them. Babies have a small stomach, and because of that, they poo constantly. Patterns settle down within a few weeks.
The first bath for the baby is as soon as mothers get home from the hospital. Babies need to feel safe and secure during the bath, making them comfortable. If not, they will cry during bath. Newborns don’t need a full bath every day, it is even recommended to bath babies on two – three day since their skin is still soft and baths dry it. Soaps should be avoided for six weeks.
Playing with Your Newborn
Best games for newborn babies are imitating games, as babies are great imitators the second they come to the world. Playing helps a baby’s development. Babies also love faces, hearing the mother’s voice and music.
It is safe to say that mothers need to prepare for every segment of their pregnancy. Knowing what to expect after childbirth helps them cope with troubles easier.