Most women can expect to have a healthy and safe postnatal recovery. In the first 24 hours after giving birth a number of health checks are recommended for everyone. Your healthcare professional should:
- measure your blood pressure within the first 6 hours
- check you have passed urine within the first 6 hours
- encourage you to move around gently
- offer you an opportunity to talk about the birth.
It is likely for your perineum to be sore. Some options to help soothe include:
warm water when going for a wee - herbal baths - sitz bath
It's important to keep everything clean and gently dry after a wash. Wearing natural fibres can help with healing so things are more breatheable.
If you have had any stitches the midwife will come and check them to see how things are healing. If things don't smell good chat to them.
Constipation and piles can be common after birth. Make sure you are eating well (good food with fibre) and drinking plenty of fluids to help the process. Remember your jaw! The same process that we've been practicing for birth is great for constipation too.
However you birth your baby bleeding is normal for the first 2-6 weeks. This isn't a 'period' as we normally know it and is called 'lochia'
Many women find they prefer the bigger maternity pads for the initial bleeding. They are super absorbent.
- Day 1 will normally be red or browny-red and heavy (changing a pad every few hours). It can be normal to pass some 1 or 2 quite large and or quite a few small clots. If you are concerned by them please show your midwife.
- Days 2-7 will have fairly heavy bleeding, possibly a few small clots and the colour is browner or more pinky red, getting less heavy over the days.
- Days 7-14 gradually lessening in quantity and getting lighter in colour.
- 14+ The colour and quantity continues to lessen over time. You may get something more like spotting. If you're breastfeeding there may be more after a feed.
If bleeding gets more frequent, smells strange or goes back to being darker red please contact your midwife or GP straight away to get checked out.
You'll have colostrum in the first few days after birth. If you're breastfeeding the milk will come in around day 3. This can come along with a wave of emotion and sometimes feelings of overwhelm. It's normal - hugs, warm baths and tenderness will help. Some people like the smell of Jasmine oil at this point.
Your breasts may feel *massive*. If they get sore you can use warm flannels or cool cabbage leaves to sooth them.
When to feed? On demand - rooting, sucking fingers, looking around etc. Over time you'll get to know your baby's cues.
Sore nipples - nipples can get sore, chapped or cracked in the early days of breastfeeding. Things normally settle down with care and support over the first few weeks. Nipple cream, hugs, tasty soup, your favourite chocolate, breastpads, warm baths / showers can all help.
If you ever feel hot spots on your breast, feel a hard lump or notice a red patch you may have a blocked duct. Again, use warm flannels and getting your arms moving can help - so can massage.
Remember - it's a learning experience for you and the baby, and one that can take a little time to come together, like dancing with a partner. Do take time and get support when you need it or if you aren't sure about anything.