Are you starting to feel like an elephant this week? No, I am not talking about your round belly or swollen ankles, but rather the fact that an elephant's gestation seems never ending. Did you know that the average female elephant is pregnant for 21 months and when she finally delivers her "little" one, it usually weighs between 169 and 248 pounds? Regardless of how tired, big, and swollen you may feel this week, I promise you that you will not be pregnant for another 11 months and when your precious baby finally arrives he or she will weigh a lot less than 248 pounds! See, there are still pregnant gals out there who have it worse than you!|
As you anticipate the arrival of your little one, which really will occur, it is a good idea to prepare yourself for all that your body will experience post-partum. It is normal for women to experience many physical as well as emotional changes after the birth of a baby. Many women not only feel sore, tired and moody, but also experience night sweats, bleeding and sore breasts. The following are post-partum facts that are good for you to be aware of before you experience them.
- Recovery If you deliver your baby vaginally, allow yourself six weeks to recover from your delivery. If you have a caesarean delivery, your recovery may take as long as eight weeks.
- Delivery Discomfort While it is no secret that the human body is able to do amazing things in order to bring a child into this world, the fact of the matter is that pushing a baby the size of a watermelon out of a hole the size of a lemon, is bound to leave you with a bit of discomfort. If you have had an episiotomy or stitches from either a tear or a c-section delivery, those areas will be a bit tender as well. One of my favorite post-partum recovery tips was shared with me by a great friend. She took several large and absorbent sanitary napkins and wet them with witch hazel. She then placed them in Ziploc bags and put them in the freezer. After delivering her little girl she found that the coolness of the pad, combined with the witch hazel eased her discomfort, reduced her swelling and sped-up her healing. If you require an over-the-counter pain medication, acetaminophen (more commonly known as Tylenol) is safe to take. If you require a stronger pain medication, be sure to contact your physician regarding its safety, especially if you are nursing your newborn, as your medication can make its way into your breast milk.
- Cramping As your uterus works diligently to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size, you may experience some "after pains" or considerable cramping. This uncomfortable sensation tends to take most women by surprise as they do not anticipate the intensity of the cramping that they end up experiencing. These cramps may also occur while you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding causes your body to release the hormone oxytocin, which in turn causes your uterus to contract. These contractions will not only help your body continue to dispel any blood clots remaining in your uterus, but will continue to help it and your abdomen return to its normal size. A heating pad or acetaminophen may aid in these discomforts as well, but remember, "no pain, no gain" or in this case, "no pain, no loss!" Skinny jeans, here you come!
- Bleeding After giving birth you should anticipate a few weeks of vaginal bleeding as your body continues to rid itself of the uterine lining that so diligently held your little one in place for all of those months. Lochia, as it is referred to in the medical community, is similar to a monthly period, but lasts anywhere from two to six (or more) weeks. During this time it is important that you only use sanitary napkins, not tampons for at least six weeks after giving birth. Inserting a tampon into your vagina during this recovery time would not only be terribly uncomfortable, but could also introduce bacteria into your vagina and uterus and therefore lead to an infection. The bleeding is usually heavy at first and then begins to taper off gradually. It is normal to pass several clots during this time, but if you feel as though you are bleeding too much, that your discharge has a foul odor, or if you begin running a fever, be sure to contact your medical provider as they may want to see you and rule out the possibility of an infection.