Pre­pare for Post­de­liv­ery

Parents (USA) - - Life-dinner - By LISA MORAN il­lus­tra­tion by ROBIN ROSENTHAL

You’ll get a “mas­sage.”

Af­ter you de­liver your baby and the pla­centa, the doc­tor or mid­wife will press gen­tly on your belly to help your uterus con­tract and re­duce bleed­ing. It’s called a “fun­dal mas­sage,” but it can be un­com­fort­able for some.

Shak­ing is nor­mal.

Child­birth is a huge event—which may be why it’s com­mon for your whole body to shake to­ward the end of de­liv­ery or right af­ter­ward. It’s caused by a com­bi­na­tion of the adren­a­line from push­ing and from hor­monal shifts. Shak­ing gen­er­ally lasts for at least a few min­utes and sub­sides within an hour. If you ex­pe­ri­ence shiv­ers or shakes in the days fol­low­ing your de­liv­ery, this could be a sign of in­fec­tion and you should no­tify your doc­tor.

You may need stitches.

Your doc­tor might de­cide you need an epi­siotomy (a sur­gi­cal in­ci­sion in the per­ineum, the area be­tween the vagina and the anus, to as­sist in the de­liv­ery of the baby’s head), or you may have a nat­u­ral tear that re­quires stitches. If you re­ceived an epidu­ral, no other med­i­ca­tions will be needed for the re­pair. If you didn’t, you’ll be given lo­cal anes­the­sia. Any stitches in that area will dis­solve on their own over time. For the sore­ness that fol­lows, witch-hazel pads, cold packs, or a sitz bath (sit­ting in a shal­low basin of warm wa­ter) can be sooth­ing. You can also ask your doc­tor about a top­i­cal numb­ing cream or ibupro­fen to ease pain. If you have a C-sec­tion, your doc­tor will use ei­ther stitches or sta­ples to close up the in­ci­sion in your ab­domen. Stitches will dis­solve on their own over time, but sta­ples will need to be re­moved by a doc­tor in five to seven days.

You’ll bleed for a while.

This dis­charge, or lochia, is the uter­ine lin­ing that built up dur­ing preg­nancy. It’s bright red in the first few days (and blood clots that are golf-ball size or smaller are nor­mal) but should de­crease and be­come lighter in color in the weeks af­ter de­liv­ery. Alert your provider if you have larger-size blood clots or soak through two or more maxi pads in an hour; this may be a sign of a hem­or­rhage that re­quires a prompt eval­u­a­tion.

You could feel swollen.

Dur­ing preg­nancy, your blood vol­ume in­creases by as much as 50 per­cent. And while you do lose blood dur­ing child­birth, this ex­tra blood, as well as the IV flu­ids you re­ceive dur­ing la­bor or a C-sec­tion, need to go some­where. As a re­sult, you may no­tice swelling in your lower legs or in the vagi­nal and labial ar­eas. How­ever, this should re­solve within ten days to two weeks af­ter you have your baby.

You’ll still pee a lot.

As your body tries to get rid of the ex­tra fluid, you’ll need to uri­nate as fre­quently as when you were preg­nant. Alas, birth can take a toll on your uri­nary tract: You may have trou­ble go­ing or sens­ing when you need to, or you may leak when you cough or sneeze for the first few days. But tell your doc­tor if it per­sists for more than a few weeks. Sources: Sa­muel Ben­der, M.D., as­sis­tant clin­i­cal pro­fes­sor of ob­stet­rics, gyne­col­ogy, and re­pro­duc­tive sci­ence at Ic­ahn School of Medicine at Mount Si­nai, in New York City; Shan­non Clark, M.D., as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of ob­stet­rics and gyne­col­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas Med­i­cal Branch at Galve­ston.

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