What to expect after giving birth? Check out our guide for one-month postpartum moms.
What can you read in this article?
- Things to avoid after giving birth
- Foods to avoid after pregnancy
- When can I start doing household work after delivery?
The birth of a child brings happiness and hope to a family. But the first few days and weeks after giving birth is usually one of disorientation and adjustment for the mother. Most moms, even those who have done it before, still encounter situations that are unique and are different from the previous times they gave birth.
As women, our bodies go through a lot – mentally, physically, and emotionally after giving birth. This is why postpartum recovery after the first month is very important.
Postpartum is a term that is used to describe the period following birth. Some experts refer to this stage as the fourth trimester, or a period of transition between birth and the first 12 weeks wherein your baby is adjusting to the world and you are adjusting to your new role.
One month postpartum is the period where parents, especially mothers experience a lot of transition in their routines, in their bodies, and moods as well.
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One-month postpartum – understanding your body
Your body went through a lot of change in the course of nine months. It survived an epic battle called labor. And now that the baby is out, your body is trying to adapt and configure itself again to what you and your baby needs.
According to Dr. Maureen Laranang, an OB-Gynecologist from the Makati Medical Center, the first week after giving birth is the most crucial period for a new mom.
Generally, within the first week after giving birth is the period of recovery. The new mom recovers physically, emotionally at mentally during this time. Also, it’s in this period that the mom needs adequate amount of rest to be able to recover,” she said.
While most mothers are discharged from the hospital 24 hours after giving birth, the physical changes and challenges that come with giving birth can be experienced even after that and can last up to a month.
Here are some physical changes to expect the first month after giving birth.
Carrying a baby in your tummy was not a small feat, and now you’re excited to get your body back and get moving. Well, news flash, your body will not be exactly the same as it was pre-pregnancy. And you need to slow it down at least after the first month before you can feel completely back on your feet again.
One of the most obvious things that will need attending to is your wound. Regardless of whether you had a caesarian or vaginal birth, there will be a physical wound. Giving birth is considered a major surgery that women go through and therefore, the healing should be treated as such.
According to Dr. Laranang, regardless of whether you have vaginal stitching or not, it’s still very important to maintain proper hygiene and clean the genital area to prevent infection. She recommends washing your vagina with soap and lukewarm water or using a feminine wash with povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine digluconate to lessen the risk of infection.
How to heal stitches faster after giving birth? The best way is to follow your doctor’s advice on the movement restrictions after giving birth, to prevent the stitches from opening up or getting infected.
If you had a vaginal birth with your baby, you will have bloody discharge and some mucous mixed with it. This is normal as it is the uterine wall just shedding the excess that built up during pregnancy.
The first few days will be heavy, but should gradually taper off. It may change color from white to even yellowish brown. According to Dr. Laranang, vaginal bleeding can occur up to 10 days. She explains the whole process:
“We have what we can physiologic vaginal bleeding o discharge after giving birth. It can last up to 2 weeks after giving birth, but the flow is very light. The first three days, the vaginal discharge will be bright red. We call this lochia rubia.
After on the 4th up to the 10th day, the discharge will be pinkish, which is called lochia serosa. It’s very light vaginal discharge. After the 10th day, the discharge will be whitish or yellowish, which we call lochia alba,” the doctor explained in Filipino.
Vaginal discharge after pregnancy is normal and a part of the postpartum recovery process. However, if you are soaking a pad due to heavy bleeding within an hour with pelvic pain accompanied by fever, you should contact your health provider.
Hemorrhoids and incontinence
Perineal soreness, which is the area between the vagina and the anus, is normal.
Mothers may also suffer some incontinence due to the stretching, even the possible injuring of their pelvic muscles. This may be brought on by coughing, laughing, or sometimes even getting up from a seated position.
Hemorrhoids are also a side effect of delivery. If you are feeling a little tenderness or pain in your anus area during bowel movements, then it may just be that the veins there are just swollen. Consult your doctor so she can prescribe you the right medication.
Your doctor can also prescribe you stool softeners to prevent constipation, which is another cause of hemorrhoids. Dr. Laranang also recommends increasing your water intake and including high-fiber foods in your diet.
“We advise moms to increase their water intake and adopt a high-fiber diet so that won’t strain too hard when they need to go,” she said.
You may lose some weight after giving birth, but these are usually extra fluids that are part of the pregnancy.
Stretchmarks or loose skin
The stretchmarks you had from pregnancy will still be present, but their colors will change from red or brownish to white. If there are patches in your skin that have darkened during pregnancy, they will gradually lighten.
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Tender or engorged breasts and sore nipples
Tender breasts are usually another effect of giving birth.
Usually, a mother’s breasts will start getting engorged as it prepares itself to be the sole food provider of her baby. You will also experience milk leaking from your breasts, which is usually a sign of having a good milk supply.
You may also experience having sore or even cracked nipples from breastfeeding, especially if your infant is having trouble latching.
Wearing a nursing bra or a bra that fully supports your breast can help you in the first month of postpartum and of breastfeeding. There are also over-the-counter creams that can help you heal your sore nipples.
After giving birth, our estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically, which can contribute to the “baby blues.”
At the same time, oxytocin, which is called the “bonding hormone,” floods your system right after delivery. This hormone turns on the mothering behavior or the feeling of being over-protective of our babies, which can sometimes lead to anxiety.
This may be brought on by the fluctuating hormones, the stress in breastfeeding and caring for a newborn. But you need to address your body’s need to rest and recuperate, or it can have negative effects on your physical and mental health.
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One month postpartum – mental and emotional changes
One minute you’re on cloud nine with the arrival of your little one. The next minute you’re feeling stressed and anxious about all the things you need to do and remember.
Due to your fluctuating hormones, you can experience some changes in your mood and mental ability. Here are some you may notice:
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Feeling shaky or disoriented
The demands of having a newborn can lead to feeling tired or low in energy. Most of the time, this is connected to a lack of sleep. But sometimes it can also be a sign of low iron levels.
New moms are at risk of iron deficiency due to blood loss during delivery. To avoid feeling jumpy or disoriented especially when taking care of the baby, doctors recommend continuing with the iron supplements prescribed to you during pregnancy. You can keep taking multivitamins with Iron while you still have vaginal bleeding or while you’re still breastfeeding.
Postpartum blues vs. postpartum depression
80 percent of women or four out of five women who just gave birth experience having postpartum blues, better known as baby blues.
This refers to the short period after giving birth when the woman gets bouts of sadness, anxiety, and mood swings.
Doctors cannot exactly tell what causes this, but it is probably related to the changing hormones explained earlier. Another factor that they are looking at is lack of sleep.
Some people confuse postpartum blues with postpartum depression. What is the difference between the two?
Postpartum blues usually sets in after giving birth and don’t usually last for more than two weeks. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, can occur several weeks or months after birth and does not go away on its own.
If you think you are suffering from postpartum depression, contact your healthcare provider.
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What to eat after giving birth and breastfeeding
What was your first meal after giving birth? Was it something healthy? Or something you really missed eating?
There were a lot of restrictions on food when you were pregnant, that when you gave birth, you think you can finally go back to eating whatever you want. True?
Most of the OB-Gynecologists we asked said that while there’s no general rule on foods to avoid after giving birth, they recommend that women who just gave birth stick to healthy foods that will support their bodies for breastfeeding and help prevent the side effects of labor and delivery, such as gas and constipation.
“Generally, there’s no restriction on food for women who just gave birth except if there’s no known allergy. But it is advisable to eat healthy foods, more vegetables esp the green leafy ones, less meat to avoid constipation, and more fruits.
Since they will be breastfeeding, it is encouraged to increase fluid intake,” said Dr. Helen Tecson, an OB-Gynecologist from Pacific Global Medical Center.
“I find that a lot of babies are sensitive to dairy and spicy during the first month ng life. So, I tell my mom, you go easy on dairy and spicy food. Add to the fact that most dairy and spicy food gives you gas,” said Dr. Maria Theresa Tangkeko Lopez, ang OB-Gynecologist from the Makati Medical Center.
Meanwhile, Dr. Laranang reminded us that what we eat gets passed on to our child through breast milk, so it’s better to eat right to give your baby a good start at nutrition and to stay hydrated to keep up with the demands of breastfeeding.
Long hours at the delivery room may leave you feeling parched, so fruits are one of the best foods and snacks after delivery. They can also help you prevent constipation.
Sink your teeth on a juicy apple or eat some oranges to replenish your Vitamin C requirement. Other recommended fruits to eat after delivery are berries, bananas, melons, and mangoes.
As for snacks, you can increase your fiber intake by eating whole grain foods such as oatmeal and brown rice.
Helping yourself recover
The truth is, there is no definite timeline when your body will completely recover after you’ve had your baby. But there are certain restrictions after giving birth that a new mom has to follow to prevent complications. To help you adapt to your new body and your new role, here’s a quick recap of the things you should and should not be doing.
- Take it easy, and let someone else handle the chores while you focus on your baby and your recovery.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. This may be only a few minutes of rest several times a day, but these minutes can add up.
- Head outside for a few minutes each day. You can start walking and doing postpartum exercises, as advised by your healthcare provider.
- Eat nutritious foods that are high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals. Keep yourself hydrated as well.
- Practice proper hygiene and clean your vaginal stitches and CS wounds properly. Don’t hesitate to call your OB-GYN if you have any questions about proper wound care. If you just had a C-section, wear a binder for added support.
- Talk to your doctor if you’re having problems with passing gas or constipation, or if your stitch just opened up or you suspect there might be an infection.
- Adopt a positive attitude towards this new chapter of your life.
- Don’t feel the need to entertain guests. Your safety (yours and baby’s) and sanity are more important than anything at this point in time. Feel free to excuse yourself for a nap or to feed your baby.
- Don’t insist on doing everything. Leave the heavy lifting to your spouse or people who did not just give birth.
- Don’t feel the need to jump back at strenuous activities like heavy exercise or sexual intercourse right away. Wait for your doctor’s go signal, and your body will also tell you when you’re ready.
- When it comes to food, steer clear of the following:
- Food that gives you gas like dairy or spicy foods
- Food that cause constipation
- Food that you’re allergic to
- Food that might affect your breastmilk like those high in caffeine and in mercury
- Don’t be embarrassed to reach out and talk to someone if you think you are experiencing postpartum depression.
As a final advice to new moms, here’s what Dr. Laranang has to say:
“To those women you just gave birth, you should embrace motherhood. It is a long journey but it is all worth it. The important thing is to always consult with your OB. If you are feeling something wrong or unusual, don’t keep it to yourself. Share it to someone so you can get help, and everythin will be alright,” she said.
If you have any questions about what you should expect at one month postpartum, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about it.
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