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What to expect, after you are expecting…

16th December 2019

You've made it! You’ve just given birth, your little bundle of joy has arrived, and you are a mum! But what happens next? The build-up around pregnancy is quite rightly focussed on labour and the birth, but what happens afterwards, when you have your baby in your arms and your life has quite literally changed forever?

Ronika Gandhi, pharmacy manager at UK Meds offers her advice to ensure new mums have the knowledge for a speedy and healthy recovery.

Ronika said: “The first thing to consider post-pregnancy is how long recovery is likely to take. The common medical expectation is around six weeks, but this obviously depends on a lot of factors including the type of birth you had – vaginal or c-section- and how the birth went.

“Remember that every mum is different, so everyone will recover at a different rate with different postpartum symptoms. If you’ve had a vaginal birth, you’re probably also wondering how long it will take for the soreness to go away and your perineum to heal. Recovery can take anywhere from three weeks if you didn’t tear to six weeks or more if you had a perineal tear or an episiotomy.

“Most symptoms should start to ease within the first week, while others (sore nipples, backaches and sometimes perineal pain) may continue for a few weeks afterwards.”

Post-partum bleeding

Also known as lochia, post-partum bleeding can last for up to six weeks. It will be just like a very heavy period. During this time, it is recommended that you wear pads to soak up the fluids. Tampons are an absolute no-no because of the risk of infection. Comfort is key here; Tena Pants Super in packs of x12 for £11.99 are ideal.

Swelling and soreness after a vaginal birth

The vaginal area may feel painful or sore immediately after childbirth. This will gradually improve during the next 6 to 12 weeks, but there are things that you can do to ease the pain and swelling. Your perineum can feel sore, especially if your skin tore or you needed stitches to repair a tear or episiotomy after giving birth. There are lots of ways to ice your perineal area — from frozen padsicles to your standard lunchbox ice blocks wrapped in soft towels. Padsicles are the best postpartum pads because they are covered in aloe vera, witch hazel and lavender oil. Together, these reduce pain and they aid you in healing faster. Pelvic floor exercises are also recommended to help strengthen the surrounding muscles.

Care for your C-section scar & stretch marks

Gently clean your C-section incision with soap and water once a day and dry with a clean towel. Avoid carrying most things (besides your baby) and hold off on vigorous exercise until you get the okay from your doctor. If you haven’t been regularly moisturising stretchmarks during pregnancy then now is the time to start. Bio-oil (£9.99 for 60ml) can be gently applied and massaged into skin following a shower in the morning. It can also be used on C-section scarring but wait a couple of months to allow time for the wound to fully heal.

Ease the flow

One of the other common post-birth concerns is constipation. The best advice is always a fibre rich diet with lots of veg, fruit and wholegrains, but if you need a little extra help then a natural laxative such as Senna (£4.49 for x100 tablets) can help get things moving!

Don’t let things pile up

Piles are not unusual after birth, given the stress that the body has been under. But fortunately, they often disappear within a few days. As with constipation, ensure you have lots of fibre in your diet and drink plenty of water. This should make going to the toilet easier and less painful. Try not to push or strain – this will make the piles worse. Keep the area clean and apply a topical cream such as Anusol to reduce itching.

Be kind to your breasts

Breasts will feel totally different as they fill with milk and can be sore, heavy and leaky. Be gentle and use a warm compress to ease discomfort and wear a comfortable soft bra. Soothe cracked or sore nipples with a lanolin-based cream. If you have decided to breastfeed, then blocked ducts can be an issue. Talk to your midwife and see if you have access to a local breastfeeding coach via your children’s centre as blocked ducts are often a symptom of a poor latch.  Warming the breasts with heat packs before feeding to help stimulate milk flow and cooling with cool packs after a feed will also help to relieve pain and inflammation.

As with all health advice, the team at UK Meds thoroughly recommend seeking the advice of your midwife or GP if you are concerned about anything post-birth.

We are an online pharmacy and lifestyle service where you can order prescription medicines and other products online that are delivered directly to your door, so perfect for those first few weeks when you are nesting with your new-born. As Ronika concluded: “It is so important to be kind to yourself during the first few weeks and months and make life as easy as possible. Use UK Meds to have all of your essentials delivered directly to you when you’ve got your hands full.”