Postpartum Care: What Every Mom Needs to Know

smiling mother holding her baby

A woman's body goes through drastic changes through pregnancy and childbirth. Today, we will talk about how the mother's body changes after childbirth, and how to approach postpartum care.

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It usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the mother's body to return to its pre-pregnancy state. Therefore, this period is called the postpartum period.

1. How long is postpartum care?

The postpartum care period usually ranges from 3 weeks to 100 days. Our Korean ancestors observe the importance of the 21 days after childbirth, and they use a gold cord to block the entrance of family members and neighbours. Even our ancestors knew empirically that for three weeks, mothers and newborns had to stay out in the house to rest and protect themselves. It takes 3-4 weeks for the uterus to return to its prenatal state.

Postpartum care is sometimes taken for up to 100 days, because it takes about 3 months for the mother's bones to return to normal after childbirth. At this time, it is okay to proceed with all your daily life tasks. However, it is a time when the mother's body is still weak, so try not to overdo it.

2. What are the basic principles of postpartum care?

The basic guidelines for postpartum care are having correct lifestyle habits and eating good food. It should not be too cold in your room to prevent the chill of 'postpartum wind'. The indoor temperature should be between 24-27 degrees and the humidity around 60%. Take a shower for less than 10 minutes and brush your teeth gently as your teeth and gums are weak. Exercising too much is not good, so light walking exercise can be done right after childbirth. 

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It is not recommended to eat just one type of healthy food every day. Please eat a variety of foods based on seasonal availability evenly. In addition, moderate exercises such as walking or stretching are a great help in helping the mother recover her health.

mother kissing her baby

 

3. What is the mother's physical condition after childbirth?

Her body, which has changed since she experienced childbirth, is slowly changing again. But all of these changes are quite time consuming. She doesn't lose weight right away when she has just given birth to her children.

During the first two weeks postpartum, her abdominal wall is relaxed and softly limp. It usually takes about 6 months to return to the shape of her pre-pregnant belly. The weight lost during childbirth is about 5-6 kg, about the weight of the baby and the weight of amniotic fluid.

Due to her hormonal influence, her hair also falls out a lot. There is a secretion produced by the healing of the endometrium at the placental attachment site after delivery. This might appear as a red discharge within the first 2 days after childbirth. It is bright red at first, then gradually turns dark red.

The serous auroras are secreted after 3-4 days and are pink or brown. After about 10 days, the white aurora appears, and it is secreted as a yellow or white fluid for about 2 to 6 weeks. It usually goes away after about 4 weeks.

You may experience temporary loss of vision, gum problems, tight breasts, and itching. Occasionally, problems with urination may occur. This is because the bladder muscles are tense after delivery, and the kidney function has not yet recovered. Perineal pain may also remain.

Therefore, it can be very difficult to urinate, and you may become constipated for the first few days after childbirth. Eat a fiber-rich diet and increase your fluid intake.

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You should urinate within 4 to 6 hours after giving birth. The act of urinating is very important because the first urination can confirm that your bladder is functioning properly. If you are unable to urinate on your own, you may be able to drain the urine by inserting a urine line at the hospital.

4. What should you watch out for during this time?

Please be careful with the use of your joints. Caring for a child can put strain on your wrists and back. Try to reduce the use of your wrists as much as possible when holding your child. Physical fatigue means you may recover slowly. Conflicts between family members may increase due to a sensitive mind during this time.

It is also important for the couple to acknowledge the changes in their body after childbirth and to receive appropriate treatment. Please share in detail what part you want to be considered for and which part is the most difficult for you.

With your spouse, please do not neglect the importance of sharing your feelings. Discuss your body changes during the postpartum period and plan alternatives, such as how you will respond in certain situations and who will help you if you are not feeling very well. Rather than trying to do everything perfectly like a professional parent, approach having your baby and your postpartum period with the realistic goal of simply becoming a little more familiar with parenting.

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Author: Hanbit Kim, Oriental Doctor
- (Current) Seocho National University of Education
- Graduated from Kyunghee University College of Oriental Medicine · Korean Academy
of Oriental Pediatrics
- Member of Korean Pharmacological Association
 

Postpartum Care

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