Looking after yourself after the baby is born
“Confinement is the worse time of my life. I can still cope with pregnancy and childbirth but during confinement, I feel like giving up on motherhood.”
This is the period that most mothers neglect. Women spend nine months preparing for the big day, and now that is over, what should they do next? Without knowing what to expect, women end up experiencing baby blues and postnatal depression. Childbirth drains a lot out of a mother and the body is going to take six weeks to recover to the state before it was pregnant.
Emotional and Physical Support
“I am always so tired. I feel so dizzy and there are times that I almost fainted.”
Physically you will be very tired. Due to the blood lost during childbirth, many mothers feel very weak during the first few weeks. Please do not try to be heroes. Help from your spouse, your mother or mother-in-law or confinement lady is very important. You need someone to help you to take care of your newborn baby and also to take care of you.
“My wife is always crying. Is she going into depression?”
Postnatal mothers are very emotional. Mothers crying during this period is common, especially with first time mothers. So, try to spend your confinement with someone who can support you emotionally too. Most women find that their spouse and their own mothers are the best people to have around during this period while others prefer their sister or best friend. It does not really matter who, as long as you are comfortable with that person and you can share all your thoughts
Red Flag – Fever
There are three important reasons why fever can cause worry after childbirth. These are :
- Breast engorgement and infection – Breast engorgement can lead to infection or mastitis, which if left unattended, may lead to breast abscess. Breast abscess may result in surgery to drain the pus.
- Wound infection – Wound infection, whether from vaginal or Caesarian birth, if left unattended, may lead to the wound breaking down or opening up. Therefore, it may need to be stitched up again.
- Endometriosis – Infection of the inner lining of the uterus can happen after childbirth and if ignored, may lead to sepsis (infection of the blood stream) and death.
So, always see a doctor when you have fever.
“I have chills and I am shivering at times. Is there anything wrong with me?”
The next question is how to identify if you are having a fever as most women during this period feel weak and sickly anyway. The clue is chills and cold. So, when you feel cold, do take a thermometer to measure your temperature. If your temperature is more than 37.5°C, see a doctor.
“My friend told me that her wound opened up and she had to go to her doctor to stitch it up again. I am very scared that it will happen to me. How do I prevent it?
Not having a wound would be the best. For vaginal birth, there is a possibility of not having any wound. But, if you have a wound, your wound needs to remain clean and dry at all times. If you have a vaginal birth, wash your wound with water every time you go to the toilet. After washing, you can rinse it with antiseptic solution. Then, dry it with a clean cloth or tissue.
If you have a Caesarian birth, clean your wound with spirit swab as many times a day as you want. In between, keep it dry with a tissue as you tend to sweat around the wound.
In general, all wounds get better each day. So, you should feel less pain each day compared to the day before. If you feel a sudden increase in pain from the wound, see a doctor immediately.
For vaginal birth, it is advisable to do the Sitz Bath and Kegel Exercise. Sitz Bath is sitting in a commode filled with warm, salt water. You can use any commode or you can use a Sitz Bath Commode which you can purchase at the hospital. Just soak yourself for 15 minutes, twice a day for one to two weeks.
Kegel Exercise is done to strengthen your pelvic muscles. After vaginal birth, the vaginal passage becomes loose and may result in urine leakage or uterine prolapse. Have no fear as this can be rectified with the Kegel Exercise.
Caring for Your Back
“I have a bad backache. Is it due to the Epidural I had during childbirth?”
Bad posture during pregnancy and after childbirth is the cause of backache. Epidural does not cause backache. Posture is very important. Every pregnant woman has osteoporosis. So, you need to take calcium tablets or drink milk during this period. Try not to bend down each time you attend to your baby. Place the nappy changing area above your waist level so that you will stand straight when you change your baby. Do not squat on the floor when you feed your baby or bathe your baby. Place your bathtub on a table and bathe your baby on the table so that you stand straight when you bathe your baby. When you need to bend, make sure that the baby is front of you. Do not bend down and turn to the side. This will injure your spine. Taking care of your back prevents backache after childbirth that may persist till old age.
This article was originally featured in Mummy’s Secret 3 – Your comprehensive guide to a healthy pregnancy.
Written by Dr. Tan Ee Ping, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Pantai Hospital Cheras. MBBS (Malaya), MRCOG (UK), HBCE
Dr. Tan Ee Ping is currently practising as a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at CT Woman and Child Specialist Clinic, Pantai Hospital Cheras and Sunway Medical Centre. She holds a special interest in natural birth, lactation and hypnobirthing.