Pregnancy and Postpartum Weight Loss
Post=After + Partum=Parting - Oh, What Fun
You've been so busy preparing for labor and birth you didn't have time for anything else. But, did anyone mention postpartum? It's that special time after baby is born that is filled with visitors, happy things, and family upheaval. With a little bit of planning, the transition time between having baby and getting back to normal (whatever that is), can be made easier. Postpartum defined is the time immediately following the birth of your baby. While it is theoretically a short period of time, there are some aspects of it that can seem to drag on forever.
The very first thing you will experience postpartum, (post-after, partum-parting) is a uterus massage. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? It isn't. The doctor or midwife will massage your uterus to help ensure it begins to contract to prevent bleeding after baby is born. It is natural to have postpartum bleeding, but it shouldn't be really heavy, initially just about the same as you would experience with a period - if it is heavier, the doctor will be checking things out.
Postpartum Pain - Why Do I Hurt?
You may remember being told that labor and birth is a whole body exercise and it takes a lot out of you. The fact that there is postpartum pain takes many women by surprise. They expect some pain in their bottoms and hips, but arms and legs? Why there? Muscle soreness in all parts of the body is a result of the various labor positions, straining and sometimes just fatigue from pushing. There's no reason to suffer with it though - ask for pain medication at the hospital and be sure to ask your doctor or midwife how best to deal with postpartum care for yourself once you are home.
Even though you'll feel pretty svelte after giving birth, you'll find you're still quite swollen. Your uterus is going to take some time getting back to its normal size, and the work you did pushing your baby out caused some inflammation and swelling in the abdominal area. If the baby was a cesarean delivery, then the swelling will be your companion for several weeks as the incisions heal.
Postpartum Weight Loss - Go Slowly
It's important to ensure your diet is a healthy one, especially if you're breastfeeding. Eating a nutritionally sound diet is not only important to regain your figure, but it is vitally important in terms of helping your recover from the birth, heal quickly, and just feel better sooner. Prenatal vitamins are still a good idea after you give birth, just to be sure both you and the baby are getting what you need to be strong and healthy. This is not the time to embark upon an intense postpartum weight loss program. Go slowly. A rapid weight loss can be unhealthy, and remember that if you're breastfeeding, you'll need an extra 300 calories a day to maintain a healthy milk supply for your baby.
The Postpartum Check-Up
About six weeks after the baby is born you will be visiting your doctor or midwife for a postpartum checkup. You'll have a pelvic exam where your practitioner will check your vagina, perineum (space between the anus and vagina) and do a pap smear. You will also have a breast exam and any other testing the doctor feels is necessary - for instance, blood work or a physical review of the scar if you gave birth by cesarean delivery. If, at this point, you are still experiencing pain or discomfort, talk to the doctor about it. This is also a good time to talk about the labor and birth, ask questions if you missed something or didn't understand a procedure or why things happened the way they did. You can also find out how this birth will affect future births, or if it will at all.
A postpartum depression screening is a very important facet of the six week checkup. While it is normal to feel blue and emotionally out of sorts after giving birth, depression is something that goes beyond the normal limits and is not healthy. Postpartum depression affects about 10% of women. The changes that a woman goes through after the birth of her baby can tip her emotional scale and have some adverse effects upon her moods. Childbirth can be a really stressful event and leaves normal and healthy women wondering what hit them sometimes. Counseling and therapy may be good avenues to pursue in the event of postpartum depression. It is best if pharmaceuticals can be avoided. In some cases, depression becomes severe enough to warrant psychotherapy. However, in most cases it can be handled with professional biofeedback sessions and the support of loving family members.
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