Irrespective of whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or c-section, appropriate postpartum care is very essential. The physical and emotional changes brought about by pregnancy continue even after childbirth. The changes manifest in full swing during the first 6 weeks. These changes are not problems but how the body recovers and returns to its pre-pregnancy state. Given are tips to care for and monitor your health after a vaginal delivery.
The vagina feels sore mainly because of a tear in the vaginal tissue or because you have had an episiotomy. The soreness will last for a few weeks after delivery. If the injury to the episiotomy is extensive, it will take a longer time to heal.
What to do: You can soothe the wound with an ice pack. Avoid using vaginal douche. Use a pillow PR padded rind to make sitting more comfortable. You must keep the wound clean and dry to help it heal faster. Wash with warm water and dry with a clean washcloth. Monitor the wound every day to see how it is healing. Wipe the area from front to back after you’ve had a stool.
You should consult your doctor if you develop a high fever. Also, see your doctor if the discomfort increases or the wound looks raw and swollen and emits pus-like discharge.
Also called Lochia, it can continue 6 weeks after delivery. The uterus sheds the lining post-childbirth. It is a reddish discharge. It is heavy during the initial days and tapers gradually. The flow is heavier when you stand up. There may be small blood clots as well.
What to do: The extermination of the vaginal discharge is necessary to prevent infections. For the first weeks, use sanitary napkins and not tampons. Change sanitary napkins frequently to reduce the risk of infection. Avoid climbing stairs, at least for the first few weeks.
See your doctor if the discharge changes color or develops a foul odor. The flow should not be very heavy, soaking one sanitary napkin in an hour. Other alarming signals are passing extensive clots and fever; 140 degrees and above.
You might experience abdominal cramps, like menstrual cramps. They are called after-pains and usually occur in the first few days after delivery.
What to do: You can ask your doctor for pain medication. While abdominal cramps are normal, the stomach muscles should not feel tender to touch.
There are two possibilities. You may suffer frequent urination, or you may have difficulty urinating. You may have to spend more time in the bathroom as the body starts expelling extra water. Difficulty in urination is caused due to injury to the tissues surrounding the urethra and the bladder. You may also experience urinary incontinence.
What to do: The stinging sensation of the urine deters many women from using the bathroom often.
However, holding urine is not advised as it can cause urinary tract infections. Pour water over the vulva as you urinate to ease the stinging sensation. Drink plenty of water. Use sanitary napkins to deal with the problem of incontinence. Start Kegel exercises as they help strengthen the pelvic muscles.
Contact your doctor if it pains when urinating. If the urine is very dark colored and frequently visit the bathroom and pass minimal amounts of urine. They are signs of a urinary tract infection.
Many women who have just had a vaginal delivery develop hemorrhoids. Tears in the perineum or an episiotomy also cause discomfort when passing stools.
What to do: For hemorrhoids, the doctor may prescribe a topical application. Eat foods rich in fiber. Drink a lot of water. You can also ask your doctor for a fiber laxative or a stool softener.
After 6 weeks, you will have a postpartum check up. The doctor will conduct a physical exam of the vagina, the cervix, uterus, and breasts.