What is Normal for Postnatal Mothers

Other pages on postnatal information include Subsequent Newborn Care and What is Normal for Newborns.

Microsoft Word Documents for printing:

What is Normal for Newborns
What is Normal for Post-natal Mothers
Subsequent Newborn Care

General

You may feel a little bruised, sore and tired but generally you should feel well, not sick. Some women feel faint when standing up for the first few hours after birth. Just make sure someone is with you when you stand up, move around or shower, especially if you are holding your baby.

The First 24 Hours

Blood Loss :

Expect blood loss to be like a heavy period initially, and it is normal to pass blood clots over the next few days as some women retain blood in the uterus and then pass it out later.

If you are consistently changing a pad every 30 minutes you may be experiencing a slow haemorrhage. Eat some of the placenta, take something to control the bleeding, and seek medical attention.

Urination:

Empty your bladder as often as you can. Full bladders can keep your uterus soft and aggravate or cause problems with bleeding and recovery. Don't be alarmed if your bladder control is reduced, this happens after childbirth due to bruising or swelling sometimes. This will go away as you recover and as you do pelvic floor exercises.

Stinging while urinating can be helped by pouring warm water over your vagina as you pee, or pee in the shower/bath. Avoid drinking citrus juices and stick to pear juice or apple juice. Drink plenty of water to dilute your urine.

Afterbirth Contractions:

Those can be worse than labour itself, and usually last a few days. Massage your uterus and make sure it is firm and on level with your bellybutton. Remember that those contractions are shrinking your uterus back to pre-pregnancy size and reducing your post-partum bleeding.

Afterpains often occur while breastfeeding. Breathe and make deep noises through them. Breastfeeding can make them more intense, but at the same time it also reduces the frequency of those pains. Sometimes Arnica 200c every 30 minutes helps, other women use relaxation or hot water bottles/packs on the belly while breastfeeding.

Catnip leaves in tea or tincture form relieve uterus spasms and keep the blood flowing out. Remember to pee lots as pooled blood and blood clots can increase afterpains, and get lots of rest in bed for a few days so that your body can heal up a bit.

Keep drinking your womens nourishing herbal teas from pregnancy (red raspberry, red clover, nettle, alfalfa)

Breasts:

For the first couple of days, your breasts will remain soft and full of colustrum which is all your newborn needs. Avoid sore nipples by making sure that your baby is attached properly. See breastfeeding diagram. If your nipples start feeling sore, seek out early breastfeeding support from the ABA or a lactation consultant before it becomes a major problem.

Bowels:

It is not unusual to not need to have a bowel movement for the first few days as it will have been emptied out completely before and during your labour.

Day 2

General:

Drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible. Towards the end of the day, your breastmilk will typically start coming in.

Days 3 and 4

Breastmilk:

Your milk will come in and your breasts will feel extremely full. This is a very important time as you need to concentrate on establishing breastfeeding. Your baby needs to feed on demand and regularly, at least every 3 hours (but it is common to have more frequent breastfeeds of every 45 mins). Your baby needs it and so do you because this will prevent engorgement and soreness.

Babies are more likely to sleep longer after having such large feeds, and you may need to wake them to feed again if your breasts start to feel uncomfortable and sore. At this stage it isn't a good idea to let them sleep longer than 4 hours.

Sometimes hard lumps will develop in your breasts. Gently massage those towards the nipple in or after a warm shower. Breastfeed some more! Be aware of the signs of early mastitis infection - headache, fever, extremely sore breasts, blocked ducts.

After a week or so, your breastmilk will have sorted out its supply and demand issues and you can feed your baby when he/she wants to rather than wake them so often for a feed.

Emotions :

As your milk comes in, your hormones can go crazy - up and down and all over the place. Combined with adapting to a new baby and tiredness from feeding and childbirth, you can feel pretty physically and emotionally drained and stressed.

Make sure your partner knows of this as men can find it very hard to understand this transition period from the pregnancy state to the mother state.

Women can feel sad, mourning the loss of their child within, as well as happy to have their child in their arms. The birth experience can affect the woman as well - there is a lot of processing to do in this transition period. Hormones are NOT the sole cause, although they can exercabate what the woman is going through.

Blood Loss :

By now, you should be experiencing lochia - a watery and pinkish blood loss that will gradually turn brownish and sometimes mucuousy until it ceases. It can take anywhere from 4-5 days to 6 weeks to stop altogether. Sometimes lochia will stop, then start again (often when you exert yourself).

If your blood loss suddenly becomes heavy and bright red again, or there is a bad odour, or your lower belly feels unusually tender, you may have an infection. Take the steps to nip it in the bud with your preferred health care option.

Day 5 and Onwards

Breasts:

Your breasts will become relatively soft again, filling up right before a feed. Any lumps that occur should be easily resolved once the baby latches on and has a breastfeed.

Uterus:

Your uterus should shrink back down into your pelvis over the first week. Keep close tabs on your body for signs of infection - feeling unwell, fever, tenderness over the lower abdomen, unpleasant smells etc.

Rest:

This is NOT a race to see how fast you can get back into your normal life. It is very important to rest, sleeping when your baby sleeps if you can. Look after yourself and your baby during the first two weeks. You will usually need help to do this. Mothers that do too much too soon are prone to infection, exhaustation or breastfeeding problems.

Food:

Some babies are sensitive to what you eat in your diet, you may have to make some dietary changes for your baby's comfort. Maintaining a good, healthy diet will help you to recover quicker and establish a good milk supply.

Hygiene:

If there is any damage to your perinium or vagina, keeping the area clean is important. Take regular showers and changes of pads (cloth is preferable!) and don't forget to "air" out your vagina. Just lay back on a folded towel and read a book/breastfeed for a while and let your vagina get some air.

Do not use soap! Sea salt dissolved in a bowl of warm water can be poured over your vagina gently while sitting in the shower to promote healing. It is ok to add a few drops of tea-tree oil to the salt water.

Pelvic Exercises:

Don't forget to do them. Do a few pelvic floor exercises every time you breastfeed.

Sex:

Sex can be resumed whenever the mother is ready, and preferably once the bleeding has stopped, not always necessarily after 6 weeks. Some women resume sex earlier.

 

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