NEW MUM? Tips for surviving the first days after childbirth (Part 2)
Your body has just been through a lot. If you had a vaginal birth, the skin around that area has been stretched to the max and you may have sustained had a tear or had to have a small cut (episiotomy). With a Caesarean section, you literally just went through major surgery. It’s therefore normal to feel soreness and pain after childbirth. Your health care provider should give you appropriate pain medication to keep you comfortable. On your own part, there are ways of facilitating this pain relief using water at different temperatures.
Ice: Consider stuffing the insides of your baby’s diapers with ice and applying it as a cold compress around your perineum (the area around your vagina and anus) within the first 24-48 hours. This provides some relief and helps with the swelling.
Apart from cases where you have had a caesarean section, hot baths do provide a lot of relief.
Mums who have had vaginal birth are advised to sit in a bowl of tepid water 2-3 times daily. This is particularly helpful if you developed haemorrhoids during or after delivery.
Pillows – Sitting on a pillow is more comfortable than without one for mums who have had vaginal births. Pillows can also help to position your baby while breastfeeding in the cradle, rugby hold or side-lying position. This way, the weight of the baby doesn’t rest on your incision for mums who have had their babies via Caesarian section. Finally, where a cough can’t be suppressed, hugging a pillow to your tummy while coughing can reduce the impact of the cough on your incision.
While some discomfort is expected after childbirth please don’t ignore the following warning signs.
Go back to the hospital immediately if:
- You feel pain or burning when you pee and have developed a fever
- You feel severe pain while breastfeeding (you may have developed a nipple infection or your baby may be attached to your breast (i.e. latching) wrongly and you may end up with nipple cracks and later an abscess)
- You feel increasing pain around your vagina or anus
- You feel continuous, intense pain or cramps in your tummy this is not to be confused with after pains that arise as you womb shrinks back especially during breastfeeding)
- You feel a sudden or increasing pain around your incision if you had a C-Section
- You develop a severe headache and have spots of light in your vision
- You develop pain in your legs or arms (a likely sign of deep vein thrombosis i.e. DVT, which is a clot in that limb)
See also: Umbilical Cord Care