The skinny on your post-birth body

Some post­par­tum symp­toms may sur­prise you, but are com­pletely nor­mal. Oth­ers mean you need med­i­cal care. Here’s what you need to know, writes Margot Ber­tels­mann

Your Pregnancy - - Contents -

BLEED­ING • What’s nor­mal?

New moms of­ten feel they are leak­ing from ev­ery ori­fice – breast­milk, blood and tears. And it’s true. Nat­u­ral and cae­sar moms both ex­pe­ri­ence post­par­tum bleed­ing called lochia when the body ex­pels pla­cen­tal tis­sue and mu­cus. This bleed­ing is usu­ally heav­ier for NVD moms than cae­sar moms and can in­clude blood clots. The bleed­ing usu­ally lasts three to six weeks, re­duc­ing in heav­i­ness and colour over time. Use pads and avoid tam­pons – rather go back to them af­ter your six-week check-up.

• What’s not nor­mal?

“See your doctor if you feel itch­ing, burn­ing, smell a foul smell or have a fever,” says gy­nae­col­o­gist/ob­ste­tri­cian and Your Preg­nancy con­sult­ing ex­pert Dr Bron­wyn Moore. And if it’s re­ally gush­ing and you feel light-headed, get your­self to your gy­nae im­me­di­ately – a haem­or­rhage can be dan­ger­ous.

BREASTS • What’s nor­mal?

There’s a myth that breast­feed­ing makes your boobs sag. But the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Plas­tic Sur­geons says it’s preg­nancy it­self that causes sag­ging. Other fac­tors are smok­ing, older age, larger pre-preg­nancy bra size and num­ber of preg­nan­cies a woman has had. But breast­feed­ing does tem­po­rar­ily af­fect the look and feel of your breasts. Your breasts fill up with milk on about day three of your baby’s life (be­fore then, she sur­vives on colostrum). By six weeks post­par­tum, your body will have fig­ured out how to reg­u­late the sup­ply of milk tai­lored to your baby’s ap­petite. Be­fore then, en­gorged or over­full breasts are very com­mon. “Man­age this with warm show­ers and by ap­ply­ing cab­bage leaves,” says Dr Moore, and feed your baby on de­mand rather than to a sched­ule. If a milk duct gets blocked, you might ex­pe­ri­ence a painful lump in a breast. Learn to mas­sage your breasts to nudge a block­age out and express milk to re­lieve the pres­sure on over­full breasts. And lastly, your nip­ples can come in for a se­ri­ous ham­mer­ing in the early weeks: cracks, blis­ters, pain and bleed­ing from a lit­tle mouth that isn’t latch­ing cor­rectly yet. So it’s vi­tal to get good breast­feed­ing ad­vice from a lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant as cor­rect po­si­tion­ing can make all the dif­fer­ence. She might ad­vise us­ing sil­i­cone nip­ple shields to en­able you to keep breast­feed­ing with­out as much pain.

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