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Changes in your body
Changes In Your Body
Your life as you knew it is about to go topsy-turvy once your baby arrives. Taking care of a baby is a full-time job, and you're going to feel it - physically and emotionally. Some first-time moms find it difficult to adjust to their new role, but if you know what to expect it may be easier:
- Episiotomy aftermath: The healing process may take two to three weeks, but eventually your stitches will dissolve and you will be able to sit on a normal surface again. Meanwhile your healthcare provider will give you a list of things that you can do to expedite the healing process and to soothe the discomfort.
- Hemorrhoid care: One of the most common after effects of pushing during labor is a hemorrhoid, or swollen blood vessels around the anus that may bleed and be painful. Depending on the severity of the swelling, you may want to soak your bottom in a few inches of warm water in the bath or wear a cotton pad soaked with cold witch hazel cream in the anal area. Eating foods high in fiber will help to alleviate constipation, which may exacerbate hemorrhoids. If the pain is unbearable, you may need prescription medicine.
- Uterine contractions: During the first week after birth while your uterus returns to its prebirth state (over a six-week period), you may feel afterbirth pains or contractions, especially during nursing and after multiple pregnancies. To relieve the pain, you may need prescription medicine (analgesic). Sometimes lying on a pillow and changing positions may help the discomfort as well.
- Bleeding: It is normal to bleed after birth for anywhere up to two to three weeks. This normal occurrence is called lochia, and it takes a while to subside as your uterus and the lining are going back to their regular size. The length of time is different for every woman but it will change from red discharge to white or yellow discharge and then it will stop.
- Breast changes: Whether or not you are breastfeeding, you'll know when your milk comes in because your breasts may be so full of milk that they get hard and engorged. To best protect your breasts from engorgement pain - and from sagging - be sure to wear a well-fitted, supportive bra at all times. If you do get engorged (which may be accompanied by a slight fever and flu-like feelings for a day), apply cold washcloths or ice packs to reduce the swelling.
- Urinary and bowel movement issues: For the first few days (and sometimes weeks) after birth, your urine and bowel movements may be out of sorts. Some women experience a lack of control and others find it difficult to urinate or have a bowel movement. The culprit: stretching of the base of the bladder, the stretching and weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, tearing of the perineum, and nerve injury to the sphincter muscles around the anus. The treatment: Kegel exercises to improve the bladder, special doctor-prescribed exercises to control your bowels. If you continue to have trouble with either one, it is important to inform your health care provider.
- Intense fatigue: Every new mom suffers from sleep deprivation. To help manage your fatigue, you can line up or accept offers of help from friends or family to help you initially. Try and make time to nap if possible and get some rest, as you are recovering too.
- A rollercoaster of emotions: You may feel overwhelmed, stressed out, teary, elated, or even depressed. Some of those feelings are normal and to be expected, but if you're unable to function or shrug off the blues you should consult a professional.
Review Date: June 29, 2001
Reviewed By: Peter Chen, M.D., Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of
Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare
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