Postpartum Care

Six Week Check-Up

Posted on Aug 28, 2009 in Featured, Parenting, Postpartum Care | 4 comments

Six Week Check-Up

Do you have new first time parents in your life? You’ve probably gotten them a gift and visited to meet the new wee one. You’ve probably puzzled over what a new family needs and how to help out. There are lots of great ideas out there. Here’s one I particularly liked as it really rang true for my experience as a new parent. To take it one step further, I’d like to challenge everyone out there to do the Six Week Check-up. That is, make a point of checking in with the new mom as her baby nears the six week mark. Why Six Weeks? Do you remember the six week check up after you had your first baby? Do you remember what else was going on for you then? Maybe you haven’t had kids yet or maybe your kids are older and now that you’ve left the sleep-deprived haze, those early days are all a blur. Let me remind you: The first few weeks were all bliss, staring at baby in awe, proudly presenting her to family and friends, feeling totally bonded to your partner for producing this perfect little angel. But now? Dad has gone back to work. The whirlwind of out-of-town visitors is slowing or they’ve all come and gone. Friends and family have all met baby and are back to their regular lives: working, house renos, family vacation. The new baby celebrations have all ended: the baby shower or meet the baby party was a few weeks ago. Friends are no longer dropping in with a cute onesie or yet another handmade blanket. The email congratulations have tapered off. In short, everyone else’s excitement has worn off. For them, now it’s business as usual. For mom? She’s home alone with baby and the reality of her new life is finally starting to hit her. This likely means getting used to the isolation of maternity leave. The first few weeks felt like a well-deserved vacation, especially after the aches and pains and fatigue of working while pregnant. But now, she’s kind of bored. She’s surprised by how much she misses talking to adults when she’s staring at the four walls and nursing AGAIN. She’s surprised by how much she misses the noise of the office (or the restaurant or the store or wherever it was for her) when she realises how quiet it is at home alone while her friends and partner are at work. When she sees her friends, she realizes she has surprisingly little to talk about now that she can’t talk about her work. She wonders what to do with herself and she misses that productive self, that woman who excelled at her work. It’s lonely and she feels a little lost in a culture that defines people by the work they do. After the standard first few weeks rest and recovery, she was feeling great and tried to get back to her normal routine, only to find that she’s still exhausted. Mama’s beginning to realise that her plans of continuing life as before with baby in tow might be a little unrealistic. Her thoughts of tackling some of those crafting projects gathering dust during her “year off” seem laughable now as she struggles to sleep enough, keep the house clean, shower and eat lunch. By 6 weeks, the new family is likely out of the extra freezer food they prepared before the birth and friends are no longer dropping off casseroles. Offers to throw a load of laundry in or pick up groceries while new mom grabs a nap have petered out. Mom’s learning to navigate the grocery store with baby (and all the baby gear) now. Every day is a list of laundry, nursing, diapers, nursing, napping, nursing, dishes, nursing, more laundry, more nursing, more diapers. She’s surprised at how little she accomplishes and she might be starting to get run down around the 6 week mark because she’s trying to do too much. Back to regular life? Not exactly. At 6 weeks, baby often goes through a growth spurt (also...

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Postpartum Care – What to Expect

Posted on Jul 6, 2009 in Birthing, Postpartum Care | 0 comments

Postpartum Care – What to Expect

Though pregnancy changes your body in many ways, sometimes the most dramatic changes happen after delivery, during the postpartum period. Here’s what to expect. Painful perineum Your sensitive perineum has been stretched to the limit and it may possibly have been bruised or torn. If it has been cut into, it’s bound to smart. Ask the nurse to instruct you on “peri-care”. Heat increases blood flow and promotes healing; cold numbs pain and decreases swelling. Both measures are necessary to heal a traumatized perineum. The nurse will tuck an ice pack up against your perineum as soon as possible (it will feel so good). She will advise you about soaking in a warm sitz bath (or the tub) and show you how to squirt warm or cool water over your perineum, using a peribottle. Soothe the wound. Spray menstrual pads with either water, witch hazel mixed with water, or perineal wash, squeeze out the excess and put them in the freezer—the cool temperature will feel amazing to your tender perineum. Change and replace as needed. Prevent pain and stretching during bowel movements. Hold a clean pad firmly against the wound and press upward while you bear down. This will help relieve pressure on the wound. Sit down carefully. To keep your bottom from stretching, squeeze your buttocks together as you sit down. If sitting is uncomfortable, use a doughnut-shaped pillow to ease the pressure. Do your Kegels. These exercises help tone your pelvic floor muscles. Simply tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re stopping your stream of urine. Starting about a day after delivery, try it for five seconds at a time, four or five times in a row. Repeat throughout the day. Look for signs of infection. If the pain intensifies or the wound becomes hot, swollen and painful or produces a pus-like discharge, contact your health care provider. Vaginal discharge You’ll have a vaginal discharge called lochia for up to eight weeks after delivery. Expect a bright red, heavy flow of blood for the first few days. If you’ve been sitting or lying down, you may notice a small gush when you get up. Don’t be alarmed if you occasionally pass blood clots. The discharge will gradually taper off, changing from pink or brown to yellow or white. To reduce the risk of infection, use sanitary napkins rather than tampons. Contact your health care provider if: You soak a sanitary pad every hour for more than two hours You feel dizzy The discharge has a foul odor Your abdomen feels tender You pass clots larger than a golf ball You have a temperature of 100.3 F or higher Contractions During the first few days after delivery, you may feel contractions sometimes called afterpains. These contractions help prevent excessive bleeding by compressing the blood vessels in the uterus. Afterpains tend to occur when you’re breast-feeding and seem to be more noticeable with second or third babies. Medications used to control hemorrhaging after delivery can increase afterpains as well. Usually these pains resemble menstrual cramps. If necessary, your health care provider may prescribe pain medication. Many medicines are safe even if you’re breast-feeding. Contact your health care provider if you have a fever or if your abdomen is tender to the touch. These signs and symptoms could indicate a uterine infection. Difficulty urinating Swelling or bruising of the tissues surrounding the bladder and urethra may lead to difficulty urinating. Fearing the sting of urine on the tender perineal area may have the same effect. To encourage urination, contract and release your pelvic muscles. It may help to place hot or cold packs on your perineum, straddle the toilet like a saddle or use a peribottle to pour water across your perineum while you urinate. Difficulty urinating usually resolves on its own. Contact your health care provider if it hurts to urinate or if you have an unusually frequent urge to urinate. These may be symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Leaking urine Pregnancy and birth stretch the connective tissue at the base of the bladder and may cause nerve...

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