Women's Health-9 Ways To Protect Yourself Post Pregnancy

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A mother is also born when a baby is born. As a new mother, you must have gone through the toughest of times for almost everyday of the nine months you have carried your lovely baby inside you. You must have possibly endured the long wait, and the discomfort of pregnancy. Soon after delivery, you have a herculian task ahead of looking after the baby. In this process you would show least importance to take care of yourself. A mother’s health is as important as a newborn’s. You forget how fragile the woman’s body really is. This is a special time in the new mother’s life where the mother needs to be focused both on her baby, and equally importantly, the new mother’s own body. During this time, a woman’s body is healing, re-adjusting, and needs to re-build its strength. You will have to adjust to the timing of ‘feeding-changing-sleeping’ and getting used to baby’s rhythms (the time of sleep,the time of hunger etc).

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Post Pregnancy Health Care Tips For New Born Mothers

During this period, the mother may experience a series of post-natal problems: post-natal infections, excessive bleeding, mood swings, pain in the perineal area, discomfort during sex, hair loss, post-natal depression, breast soreness and tenderness.

As soon as the new mother is back home after delivery, the foremost plan she should implement is to reduce all stress related works like house hold chores (washing clothes, cooking, cleaning house, lifting weights).

The mother should find a perfect assistant for her who can substitute doing all these works either in the form of a servant maid or any close relative who can help the mother during the first six weeks post delivery. The mother requires complete rest to put her body, mind and spirit in better shape and also to de-stress her body. Its best for the mother to sleep when her baby sleeps. For the first six weeks, its better for the new mother to do only what needs to be done.

Your body is an amazing healing-machine, but it needs time, rest and peace. Some new mothers have cramping, called “after birth pains”, in the lower abdomen. This is most common with your second or later baby, or when you are breastfeeding. These “pains” are a sign that your uterus is returning to normal. Usually the pains stop a few days after the birth of your baby. Talk to your doctor or nurse if “after pains” bother you a lot.

1.) Rest And Reduced Physical Activity Are Very Important For A Mother Post Pregnancy

As a new mother, it may be very hard for you to get the rest you need – especially if you have other children in the house. The baby will also wake you up, wanting to be fed several times a night. Don’t try to do too much or expect to get much done. Your priority is taking care of the baby and yourself.

Try to take short naps during the day, especially when the baby is sleeping.

Wait at least a week before driving longer if you feel light-headed, weak or tired.

Make a habit of going outside (even on cold days) for fresh air and exercise.

Walking is a wonderful exercise that can make you feel better. Start slow and try to work up to 20 to 30 minutes a day.

Avoid heavy work that makes you tired.

Check with your health care provider about going back to work.

2.) Mild To Moderate Exercise Is Very Important For The Mother Post Pregnancy

Your abdomen, which was stretched during pregnancy, is now loose and stretchy. Exercise will help it return to a normal shape in about six to eight weeks. Your stretch marks will fade, but may not go away completely. If exercises cause pain, do them only up to that point and talk to your health care provider.

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To tighten your abdomen (stomach muscles):

Lie on your back with knees bent. Try to hold your tummy in.
Lift your head and let your chin touch your chest. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then put your head down and relax your muscles.
Start with one a day and add one more each day until you build up to 10 day.
During the day, try to hold your stomach muscles tight while sitting or walking.

Kegel exercises help tighten the birth canal muscles:

Sit on the toilet with legs spread apart
Pass some urine, and then try to stop the flow of urine. Notice the muscles you must squeeze to make the urine stop
Once you know which muscles to squeeze, do the exercise when not passing urine. You can do it while standing, walking, sitting or lying down
Do 10 to 15 exercises at least three to four times a day

3.) Repair of Episiotomy (stitches) Post Pregnancy

If you have stitches, keep that area very clean. Complete healing takes about four weeks. The stitches do not have to be removed.

Every time you use the toilet:

Clean your bottom and rinse with the squirt bottle that you got at the hospital. This helps your stitches heal faster. Follow this routine as long as you are sore.
After a bowel movement, be sure to wipe yourself from front to back and rinse with the squirt bottle.
Sitting in a tub of warm water for 15 to 20 minutes, three or four times a day helps reduce soreness.
Check with you health care provider about going back to work.

4.) Constipation, Bowel Movements Post Pregnancy

You may be constipated for the first few weeks after the birth of your baby.

These tips may help you feel better:

Get some exercise everyday – walking is great
Drink 8 to 12 glasses of fluids each day – water, juice and warm liquids may help.
Eat foods with fiber every day – whole grain breads and cereals, vegetables, salads and raw fruit are good choices.
Do not hold back when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. Listen to your body’s cues and respond. You don’t have to worry about your stitches. They will not break when you have a bowel movement.
If you still need help, your health care provider may suggest a mild laxative or a stool softener.

5. ) Uterus and Lochia (bleeding) Post Pregnancy

Immediately after delivery, your uterus begins to contract – commonly called ‘postpartum aches and pains’. Keeping your bladder empty helps the uterus contract effectively, and prevents too much bleeding. If you are doing too much around the house, bleeding can increase and become bright red. That’s when you know you need to take it easy.

Vaginal Discharge

Some bleeding from the vagina is normal after you’ve had a baby

Things to know:

Bright red bleeding generally lasts three to four days, but may last up to two weeks
The bright red bleeding slowly changes to dark red, then yellow and then to white
You may have a whitish discharge for two to six weeks
Wear a sanitary pad, not a tampon
Do not douche
If you have any discharge with a bad odor or which itches or has a burning feeling, contact your health care provider.

6. ) Sexual Intercourse And To Think About Birth Control Post Pregnancy

Give yourself time. Your body needs some time to get back to normal before you have sex. The amount of time varies for everyone. It is recommended that you visit your health care provider for your post-partum check up before having sexual intercourse.

Your vagina may feel dry at first, especially if you are breastfeeding. Try a lubricant, extreme gentleness in lovemaking, and a position (such as the woman on top) to make it more comfortable. You can get pregnant soon after the birth of your baby. You may ovulate (pass an egg) and become fertile before you notice any signs that your menstrual cycle has begun again.

If you are breastfeeding:

You may not menstruate (get your period) until up to 18 months after delivery
You cannot count on breastfeeding as a reliable method of birth control
Use a birth control method so you can space pregnancies at least a year and a half apart.

If you are not breastfeeding:

Your period usually returns within four to eight weeks after the birth of your baby
Use a birth control method so you can space pregnancies at least a year and a half apart

As surprising as it may seem, you can get pregnant again just two weeks after giving birth! For your health and for the health of your next baby, you and your partner need to talk about birth control. While your body is able to get pregnant as soon as two weeks after your baby is born, getting pregnant too soon after giving birth can be risky for both you and your baby. Give your body at least a year to recover before trying again. Make a plan so you don’t have another baby too soon.

7. ) Caring for yourself while breastfeeding post pregnancy

Breastfeeding is a learning process for you and the baby. Babies instinctively know how to suckle, but not necessarily how to breastfeed. In the first week, particularly after the body produces colostrum – the nutrient-rich and thick milk, it is normal to have some pain and tenderness.

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If baby does not ‘latch’ properly, breastfeeding can continue to be a painful and difficult process for both mother and child. Here are some things you can do to help relieve soreness and heal cracked/chapped breasts: Keep breasts open to air frequently: this helps reduce the possibility of infections.

Warm water or tea bag compress for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day. Avoid underwire bras.  Rub a bit of your own breast milk and some virgin coconut oil onto the nipple and breast area – both are rich in Lauric Acid – one of nature’s most powerful wound-healing, anti-inflammatory agents.

Caring for Your Breasts:

Whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, it is important to take care of your breasts after the birth of your baby. If you are breastfeeding, see the how to breastfeed section for more information. Women who bottle-feed their baby will also need to take special care of their breasts following the birth of their baby.

Some mothers’ breasts get very hot, hard and swollen when their milk comes in and they are not nursing their babies. The swelling usually goes down after a day or two.

There are some things you can do to increase your comfort:

Use ice packs on the breast for 15 or 20 minutes.
Try a warm washcloth on the breast if the ice does not help.
Put your baby to the breast for a few minutes.
Call your doctor or clinic if you have chills or fever and your breasts are still swollen and uncomfortable after two days.

8.) Restlessness, Post-partum massage Post Pregnancy

Ayurveda recommends 42 days of rest and care – because these 42 days influence a woman’s health, and prepare her for the journey ahead. If you cannot do the full 42 days for some reason, regular post-partum massage is an effective and holistic way to help the process. There are unique (and scientifically proven) post-partum benefits of regular massage, and they include hormone regulation, reduced swelling, better sleep, and improved breastfeeding.

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More advanced massage therapy helps restore the body to its pre-pregnancy condition, and assists with C-section recovery.

Post-partum Blues:

Almost half of new mothers feel sad, “blue” or “down in the dumps” during the first several weeks after giving birth. Hormone changes may play a role.

Here are some signs to watch for:

Feeling restless or irritable.
Feeling sad, depressed or crying a lot.
Having no energy.
Having headaches, chest pains or heart palpitations.
Not being able to sleep, being very tired or both.
Not being able to eat and losing weight.
Overeating and weight gain.
Trouble focusing, remembering or making decisions.
Being overly worried about the baby.
Not having any interest in the baby.
Feeling worthless and guilty.
Being afraid of hurting the baby or yourself.
No interest or pleasure in activities, including sex.
If this happens to you:

Rest more

Get more support from family and friends

Find someone you trust to care for your baby while you take some time for yourself.
Talk about your feelings with someone who is important to you and will listen.
Tell your health care provider if the blues continue after a few weeks, or if they get worse

9.) Caring For Your Mental Health Post Pregnancy

Having a baby is exhilarating. It can also be exhausting. 80 percent of new mothers have severe mood-swings – known as baby blues – and it is important not to ignore these symptoms. About 10 percent suffer from major post-partum depression. Traditionally, doctors have blamed hormones for this, but chemistry can’t explain everything.

Mood Changes:

Many women experience sudden mood changes after the birth of their baby. You may feel very happy one minute and in tears the next. Feelings of deep love may quickly change to anger.

Many of these emotional ups and downs may be caused by changes in hormones in your body. Some mood changes may be a result of the demands of caring for a new baby in the early weeks. Mood changes are normal. As your hormones return to normal levels and you get used to being a mother to this baby, your moods are likely to change less. If you are concerned about how you are feeling or acting, call your health care provider, a counselor, minister, or close friend. If you are feeling sad, depressed or think you might hurt yourself or your baby, call your doctor or nurse right away. Many women have post-partum depression (or post-partum “blues”) and benefit from getting some help.

Plan to see your health care provider two to six weeks after your baby is born for a regular post-partum check up. Make your appointment as soon as possible. It’s important that you take care of yourself too!

Post Pregnancy: Symptoms that are never to be ignored and need immediate attention of a health care provider 

Heavy, bright red bleeding or large clots.
Fever greater than 100° F.
Painful cramps.
Hard, painful lumps in your breasts.
Increasing pain in episiotomy (stitches).
Pain when you urinate.
Feelings that you might hurt yourself or your baby.

Content Compiled From Indian Express Health magazine

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