Your baby has arrived! Congratulations! Now it’s important that your body and your mind recover from the strains and stresses of recent months. That's what the postnatal period is all about. These are the changes you can expect and what will help.
It takes six to eight weeks for the womb to recover. Any birth injuries will also heal during this time. The first few weeks after birth are therefore known as the postnatal period, or puerperium. New mothers should relax and recover from pregnancy and childbirth in the postnatal period.
Your new everyday life with the baby brings new responsibilities that can ask a lot of you. Arrange a few things in advance:
When the placenta detaches after giving birth, this creates a wound that needs to heal. As the wound heals, this causes post-partum bleeding – also known as lochia. Post-partum bleeding can be heavy at the start and will ease off over time. It can range in colour from deep blood red to yellowish-white. Post-partum bleeding lasts around four to six weeks.
Post-partum bleeding also occurs after a caesarean section. However, as the womb takes longer to recover in comparison with a vaginal birth and a lot of blood is already extracted during the operation, post-partum bleeding may be lighter, but last a little longer.
Tips on post-partum bleeding:
If you have other symptoms or lower abdominal pain, contact your midwife or gynaecologist immediately.
After birth, the uterus recovers to the size of a pear: from about 1.5 kg to about 60 grams. This process – the involution of the uterus – affects every woman differently. After your first child, you should experience only slight abdominal cramps. After-birth pain is usually worse with every additional child. Women feel it most intensely when breastfeeding. It can also occur after a caesarean section or a womb scrape. It can also cause back pain. After-birth pain usually ends after four days. It should not last any longer than 10 days.
This helps with after-birth pain:
You are on an emotional rollercoaster, from euphoric to overwhelmed – it’s normal to have ups and downs. You also have a few things to process: giving birth, your new role as a parent, breastfeeding. Your daily routine has changed and your relationship takes on new dimensions. You might also be dealing with sleep deprivation. The ‘baby blues’ usually kick in between the third and fifth day, caused by the decrease in pregnancy hormones. They can last a few days. Let yourself feel what you feel. Make sure you rest and have support from your partner and the people around you.
Time for some self-care:
If you feel sad and unmotivated for longer, it might be postnatal depression. Talk to your doctor about
Giving birth may result in a perineal tear (a tear from your vagina to your anus), episiotomy or other birth injuries to the vagina and vulva. Depending on how severe the injury is, this is stitched back up after the placenta is delivered under local anaesthetic. Small injuries that do not bleed will heal quickly and well without stitches. Birth injuries usually heal within two weeks.
Avoid birth injuries: speak to your midwife or gynaecologist about potential ways of preventing a perineal tear or episiotomy before you give birth.
Tips on birth injuries:
Luckily, birth injuries to newborns are rare, as difficult births are avoided thanks to caesarean sections.
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor loosens. Childbirth also puts the connective tissue in the pelvis under enormous pressure. The pelvic floor must now be strengthened, so it can resume its full function. A weak pelvic floor can lead to bladder weakness, faecal incontinence, back pain or pelvic floor pain. But there’s no need to worry: targeted exercise will gradually tighten your pelvic floor again.
To ensure your healthy recovery:
Many new mothers suffer from constipation. There is now more room for your organs inside you. Your bowels take up to two weeks to adjust to the change. Moving around less, pain, fear of straining and loss of fluids due to breastfeeding may also cause constipation. Here’s how to get your digestive system going again:
Milk production makes your breasts bigger, warmer and firmer. This can be painful, but should ease off. Bacteria that enter the breast through minor injuries to the nipple can cause blocked milk ducts or even breast inflammation (mastitis).
This helps with breast pain:
Under the COMPLETA supplementary healthcare insurance policy, you receive 75% of the costs up to CHF 500 per calendar year for maternity classes, e.g. postnatal recovery or pelvic floor exercises. Alternative methods such as acupuncture also help promote your recovery.
Basic insurance covers the following services for the postnatal period:
Postnatal depression occurs as a reaction to the many pressures associated with pregnancy and childbirth. It should not be disregarded.
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