Postnatal pains & discomforts
The postnatal period is a very special time where women undergo the transition into motherhood. Your body will recover from the pregnancy and birth. There are a number of pains and discomforts you can experience in the first days and weeks after birth. The most common complaints are listed below.
During the first week after childbirth, many women get what’s often called the ‘baby blues’. This is probably due to the sudden hormonal and chemical changes that take place in your body after childbirth.
Symptoms can include:
- feeling emotional and irrational
- bursting into tears for no apparent reason
- feeling irritable or touchy
- feeling depressed or anxious
All these symptoms are normal and usually only last for a few days.
Is it postpartum depression?
Depression after a baby is born can be extremely distressing. Postpartum depression is thought to affect around one in 10 women.
Many women suffer in silence. Their friends, relatives and health professionals don’t know how they’re feeling.
Postpartum depression usually occurs two to eight weeks after the birth, though sometimes it can happen up to a year after the baby is born.
Symptoms such as tiredness, irritability or poor appetite are normal if you’ve just had a baby. But these are usually mild and don’t stop you leading a normal life.
When you have postpartum depression, you may feel increasingly depressed and despondent. Looking after yourself or your baby may become too much. Other signs of postpartum depression are:
- panic attacks
- extreme tiredness
- aches and pains
- feeling generally unwell
- memory loss or being unable to concentrate
- feelings of not being able to cope
- not being able to stop crying
- loss of appetite
- feelings of hopelessness
- not being able to enjoy anything
- loss of interest in the baby
- excessive anxiety about the baby
If you think you have postpartum depression, don’t struggle alone. It’s not a sign that you’re a bad mother or are unable to cope. Postpartum depression is an illness and you need to get help, just as you would if you had the flu or a broken leg.
Talk to someone you trust, such as your partner, a friend or us. You can always call us or make an appointment at the practice if you have worries that you might suffer from a postpartum depression.
After the birth, you will bleed from your vagina. This will be quite heavy at first, and you’ll need super-absorbent sanitary towels. Change them regularly, washing your hands before and afterwards. It isn’t a good idea to use tampons until after your six-week postnatal check because they can cause infection.
While breastfeeding, you may notice that the bleeding is redder and heavier. You may also feel cramps like period pains, known as “after pains”. These things happen because breastfeeding makes the womb (uterus) contract.
The bleeding will gradually become a brownish colour and may continue for some weeks, getting less and less until it stops.
A baby up to one year of age is very vulnerable for infections. The herpes virus, causing cold sores, is highly contagious and can make the baby seriously ill (meningitis). If you have a cold sore yourself, it is important to pay attention to hygiene. You can wear a facemask, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, to prevent contamination. If visitors have a cold sore, we advise to not let them cuddle or kiss the baby.
Headache in the baby
After a birth with the aid of a venture or forceps, it is likely the baby will have a headache of is nauseous. Baby’s can be agitated or cry easily when picked up. We advise you to let the baby rest as much as possible. Sometimes the baby does not want to drink properly due to the headache. Offer him a feed every three to four hours, even when he sleeps you can wake him up. If the baby is very uncomfortable it can be an option to give him baby-paracetamol, only after consultation with one of us.
If the baby refuses to drink at all or you are worried, cal the midwife on call 020 – 333 04 20
Nausea in the baby
During labour the baby can swallow some amniotic fluid or blood. This can cause the baby to be a bit agitated or nausea. Some baby can gage frequently or spit up rusty mucous. It may look tedious and helpless, but it is harmless. Turn the baby on its side so mucous can easily get out of its mouth. Despite the baby most likely will not be wanting to drink properly, offer him a feed every three hours. Mostly the nausea will pass within 24 hours after birth.
Is the baby vomiting blood or are you worried? Don’t hesitate to call the midwife on call 020 – 333 04 20
You probably won’t need to pass stool for a few days after the birth, but it’s important not to let yourself get constipated. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread, and drink plenty of water.
Whatever it may feel like, it’s very unlikely that you’ll break the stitches or open up the cut or tear again. It might feel better if you hold a pad of clean tissue over the stitches when passing stool, and try not to strain.
Piles (haemorrhoids) are very common after birth, but they usually disappear within a few days. Plenty of women have piles during pregnancy as the hormone progesterone weakens the wall of the intestines and anus. During labour piles can worsen by the pressure during the pushing phase. It looks like little red to purple beads. They can be quite painful, sometimes even more painful then stitches.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread, and drink plenty of water. This should make bowel movements easier and less painful.
- Don’t push or strain as this will make the piles worse.
- Let us know if you feel very uncomfortable and they will be able to give you an ointment to soothe the piles. The most common crème against piles is “Curanol”, available at the pharmacy and drugstore. It’s also safe to use during breastfeeding.
- Take paracetamol if necessary (max 6x500g per 24 hours)
- Ensure good hygiene. It’s advisable to rinse daily with plain warm water in the shower.
Recovery after caesarean
It takes longer to recover from a caesarean section than it does from a natural birth.
After a caesarean, you’ll feel uncomfortable and will be offered painkillers. You will usually be fitted with a catheter (a small tube that goes up into your bladder) for up to 24 hours. You may be prescribed daily injections to prevent blood clots (thrombosis). You’ll be encouraged to become mobile by getting out of bed and walking around most likely a day after the caesarean. You should be ready to leave hospital within two to four days. The kraamzorg will take of you when you are home again and we will pay a home visit to check up on you and your baby.
The main reason for cracked or bleeding nipples is an improper latch, which can also cause severe nipple pain and makes it hard to feed. Correcting your nursing technique can go a long way toward letting cracked nipples heal. Sometimes just the slightest change in positioning will make a world of difference. A breast pump can be used for 1 or 2 days to let the nipples heal. The kraamzorg or a lactation consultant can help you figure out how to position your baby to getter a better latch.
If you’ve had stitches after tearing or an episiotomy (cut), bathe the area often in clean, warm water to help it heal. Have a bath or shower with plain warm water. After bathing, dry yourself carefully. In the first few days, remember to sit down gently and lie on your side rather than on your back.
If the stitches are sore and very uncomfortable, you can take up to 6x500mg of paracetamol per 24 hours.
Stitches usually dissolve by the time the cut or tear has healed, but sometimes they have to be taken out a week after the delivery. The kraamzorg checks the wound daily and will call us if things are not healing well.