After many months of a long wait, your baby is finally here! Now the postpartum period has started. This period also known as the fourth trimester is commonly defined as the six weeks following the delivery. During this period, you will go through many changes, both physically and emotionally.
The postpartum period is critical for a woman and her newborn because it sets the stage for long-term health and well-being.
This article will talk about five essential things you need to know about the postpartum period.

1- Baby blues are normal shortly after childbirth

According to the American Pregnancy Association, up to 70% of all new mothers will experience negative feelings and mood swings after childbirth. (1) These feelings are known as baby blues or postpartum blues. They usually start 2-3 days after delivery and go away by themselves within two weeks.
Baby blues are thought to be related to the extreme hormonal fluctuations the body goes through after delivery. These hormonal changes combined with stress, isolation, sleep deprivation, and fatigue can affect the new mom’s state of mind.
Symptoms of baby blues include :

  • unexpected sadness and irritability
  • bouts of crying for no apparent reason
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • impatience
Even though the baby blues often go away on their own, few things can help you feel better.
  • Get some rest. Ask a family member or friend to help with the baby, the laundry, or the dishes so that you can get a little rest.
  • Take some time for yourself. Whenever you have some help, do something you like, go outside, take some fresh air, a bubble bath, or anything that can help you relax.
  • Connect with other new moms. It helps to talk to people who are going through the same thing as you and understand precisely how you feel.

As we said earlier, baby blues symptoms disappear within fourteen days after delivery. If the symptoms persist, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Related: 30 Postpartum Quotes for New Moms

2-Postpartum depression is real and can affect any woman

Contrary to the baby blues, in which the feelings pass quickly, postpartum feelings don’t ease with time. They may become worse. According to the CDC, about 1 in 8 women in the United States experience postpartum depression symptoms. (2)
Postpartum depression is a real medical illness that begins within four weeks after childbirth. It is a major form of depression that involves the brain and affects your behavior and physical health.

Women with postpartum depression experience symptoms such as:

  • intense feelings of sadness
  • excessive crying
  • severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • feeling extremely hopeless
  • eating disorders
  • thoughts of harming your baby
  • suicidal thoughts

The symptoms can be so intense that women with postpartum depression are unable to perform daily tasks. Postpartum depression can affect any woman, regardless of age, race, income, culture, or education. Postpartum depression and baby blues are linked to the hormonal, physical, and emotional changes that affect the body.

Many factors increase the risk of postpartum depression. These factors include:
  •  history of mental disorders
  • family history of mental illness
  • having an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy
  • stressful life event
  • lack of social support
  • dealing with relationship problems with your partner or spouse
  • preterm birth
  • having a baby who has been hospitalized.

Postpartum depression is a disorder that should be taken seriously. If you think you might have postpartum depression, you must seek treatment from your healthcare provider as soon as possible. With proper treatment, most women with postpartum depression feel better, and their symptoms improve. The treatment often includes therapy, prescription of medicines, or a combination of the two.

Suicide is the second most common cause of postpartum death(3). If you have suicidal thoughts or you have thoughts of harming your baby, please call one of these :

    •  911
    • a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use their webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.
    • Your healthcare provider


3- Be aware of postpartum complications and warning signs

Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a c-section, it is expected that you will experience some discomfort. In some cases, news moms may be at risk of severe health conditions requiring immediate medical care. Women who experience pregnancy complications are more likely to suffer from complications during postpartum. Knowing the signs and symptoms of health complications can help you prevent life-threatening conditions.
Life-threatening conditions that can happen in postpartum are :

  •  infections and sepsis
  • postpartum depression
  • blood clots
  • postpartum hemorrhage
  • postpartum preeclampsia
  • stroke
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • heart disease
Here are the warning signs you should watch out for during postpartum:
  • excessive bleeding, like soaking through more than one pad in an hour and large blood clots
  •  a red or swollen leg that feels warm or painful when you touch it
  • a bad headache that doesn’t get better after taking medication and blurred vision
  • vaginal discharge with pain or itching and foul smell
  • an incision or episiotomy that is not healing.
  • a discharge coming from your c-section incision.
  • a fever of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher

If you have any of these signs, you should seek medical treatment, call your doctor, or go to the emergency room.

Call 911 immediately if you experience:

  • chest pain, trouble breathing, fainting, or seizures.
  • thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

4-  You might have to deal with constipation

Constipation is one of the most common postpartum discomforts that no one talks about. Most first-time moms don’t know they also have to deal with constipation plus everything they are already going through. You might be surprised by how hard it is to have a bowel movement, especially when you did not experience constipation during pregnancy. Many women will experience constipation, whether they had a vaginal delivery or a c-section. Postpartum constipation is associated with pain, straining, hard stool, and a sense of incomplete evacuation. It usually lasts for a few days after childbirth but can last longer for some women.

Postpartum constipation causes include:

  • pregnancy hormones
  • a prolonged second stage of labor
  • an empty stomach after not eating during the delivery
  • damage of your pelvic floor muscles or the anal sphincter muscles during the delivery
  • sore perineum due to hemorrhoids, vaginal tear, or episiotomy during delivery
  • taking an iron supplement
You can ease your postpartum constipation by taking the following actions:
  • Increase your fluid intake. Drinking a lot of water can help facilitate your bowel movement. Make sure to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Eating foods with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and salads, will also help you stay hydrated.
  • Don’t wait when you feel the need to go to the bathroom. Even though it might be uncomfortable or painful, waiting too long will make your stool drier and harder to pass.
  • Eat high-fiber foods such as prunes, pears, whole grain cereals, brown rice, and beans.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you can take a stool softener.
  • Move around as much as possible. It will help keep things moving in your intestines.

After delivery, doctors usually provide a postpartum recovery kit with products that help cool and soothe your vaginal area if you have any tears and help if you have hemorrhoids. Try to use them as it will help you ease the pain when you have a bowel movement.

Call your health care provider if you do not have a bowel movement by the fourth day of giving birth.

Related: 40 Postpartum Affirmations for New Moms

5- Sex after birth can be stressful

Most doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks after delivery to resume sex. For some women, even though they have recovered physically, things might not go as expected. Here is why

Many new moms experience a decrease or loss of sex drive after giving birth. There are many reasons you might not be into sex:

  • the trauma of the delivery itself
  • being exhausted, sleep-deprived
  • hormonal changes and breastfeeding
  • vaginal pain and discomfort during the first attempt at sexual intercourse

Adjusting to a new role as a parent can make it difficult for partners to have a sex life. Who knew that a tiny human would need so much attention? Between endless feeding, diaper changes, and sleepless nights, you barely have the energy to fulfill each other’s needs.

Learn more about sex after birth and tips that will help you improve postpartum intimacy.

References

  1. https://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/baby-blues-71032
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/postpartum-depression#facts
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About the Author

Hermione M.

My name is Hermione. I am the founder of WomenH and I write about women's health, wellness, mental health, and personal growth. I created this platform to inspire women to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to become their best selves. Thank you for stopping by.

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