Many women have questions or feel overwhelmed in the months following childbirth. Their bodies undergo many transformations, in addition to having to deal with certain traumas.
The 4th trimester is not well-documented and generally corresponds to the first 3 months after giving birth. Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Parents, has put together this article to help women living with childbirth-related difficulties.
Physical discomforts after childbirth
Childbirth is a very intense physical and mental effort. The presence of the baby in your uterus, as well as its passage to the outside world, brings its share of worries and issues.
After giving birth, you may still have contractions, but irregularly. These are called "afterpains" and vary in intensity. They help the uterus move back into place and return to its original shape and size.
In order to relieve your afterpains, you can take painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs. However, check with your pharmacist to make sure that the product you are using does not interfere with your breastfeeding.
Vaginal discharge is completely normal. It may abundant and dark red in the first few days after childbirth; however, it will diminish as the days go by. Also called "lochia," it eliminates the remaining parts of your pregnancy, such as placental debris. Lochia can last from 2 to 6 weeks. Remember to change your pad every 4 hours.
After giving birth, some women experience urine leakage, for example, when they laugh or sneeze. Carrying a baby for 9 months affects the pelvic area and often causes the pelvic floor muscles to collapse, allowing urine to leak out.
If this is the case, Kegel exercises (perineal re-education) are generally effective and help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy. They consist of the dilation of blood vessels around the anus. The pressure exerted by the baby on the internal organs and efforts made during childbirth increase the chances of developing this condition.
To learn more about the changes that happen to moms after giving birth, check out our New Mom questions and concerns guide.
Cesarian sections normally require a longer recovery time than a vaginal delivery. The C-section wound may be painful for several days and, in some cases, the use of painkillers is recommended. Some precautions to take after a C-section include:
- Avoid stairs and physical exertion
- Take a shower instead of a bath
- Use a mild soap
- Dry the wound properly and allow it to breathe as much as possible
For more information on C-sections, read the following article.
Occasionally, complications arise after delivery. In the cases listed below, it is important to see a doctor quickly or go to the emergency room.
- Hemorrhaging: You are experiencing very heavy blood loss, more than one pad per hour, and/or you pass blood clots larger than a golf ball.
- Fever: Your temperature is 38.0o C (100.4o F) or higher, with no other identifiable cause.
- Stomach ache: You feel strong abdominal pain and/or taking analgesics has no effect.
To learn more about postpartum complications, read this article.
Postpartum depression usually occurs in the first year after the birth of a baby. It is due to certain physiological factors, such as hormones, as well as the many upheavals caused by the arrival of a baby.
There are some signs that may alert you to this, including:
- Frequent crying
- Sleep problems
- A lack of interest in the child
- Suicidal thoughts.
However, it is important to differentiate postpartum depression from the baby blues. The baby blues are temporary, lasting from a few hours to about 15 days, and appear in the first few days after delivery. It is mainly manifested by anxiety, irritability and mood swings. Unlike postpartum depression, the baby blues do not require any specific treatment or outside intervention.
Postpartum depression is in no way related to being a bad parent. Anyone can use a helping hand in their life, and becoming a parent is an unsettling stage for many people.
If you are experiencing symptoms similar to postpartum depression, never hesitate to seek help (doctor, psychologist, emergency, 911).
For more information about postpartum depression, read this article (French only).
Physical activity after childbirth
Some women are anxious to get back into sports after giving birth. Normally, it takes at least 3 months before resuming medium-to-high-intensity activity. Walking, yoga and Pilates are good suggestions for a gradual return to training.
The weight gained during pregnancy differs from one woman to another. If you want to lose weight, it is recommended that you lose no more than 2 to 4 pounds per month. Diets are not recommended, especially if you are breastfeeding, since you need a healthy and varied diet for your health and that of your baby.
For more tips on working out after childbirth, check out the article 4 tips for getting back in shape after having a baby.
Don't hesitate to ask your health professionals about the appropriate sports activities for your condition.
The weeks following childbirth require an unusual adjustment. If you have any doubts, questions or discomfort, do not hesitate to consult your healthcare professional. They will be able to advise you or direct you, if necessary, to the appropriate resources.
Take care of yourself!