You’ve delivered your baby – congrats! But what happens now? After childbirth, the postpartum or postnatal phase begins. During this 8-week phase, a woman will experience a long-term menstruation while the body heals. This period will last about 6 weeks where the body regulates hormones levels and returns the uterus to its normal size. Puerperium is divided into two parts: the early and late phase, both taking around 4 weeks. After the healing phase of puerperium is complete, you will be feeling much stronger yet not completely healed. Depending on the success of the pregnancy and the birth, you should be feeling quite fit at this point to return to your pre-pregnant self with a new baby to care for. However, women who experienced any major birth complications or had a caesarean section might need much more time to heal.
Puerperium Part 1: 3 Weeks After Birth
During the first phase of puerperium, you are ideally recovering in bed at home and enjoying a lot of cuddling time with your baby. This is prime time you can spend with your baby to become familiar with breastfeeding, their personality and their routine. Skin contact is vital for the bonding initiation at this time. Both of you should be getting plenty of rest and synching your sleep cycles. Take full advantage of this truly magical time when you can enjoy undisturbed bonding time with your new baby. It is advised not to plan too many visits, obligations or organizational tasks — take the time to rest and get to know your baby. An easy way to avoid obligatory tasks like cooking and tidying is to gather your support circle and schedule as much help as possible. You may be surprised who will pitch in and help with your needs. Scheduling meals, visits and even the smallest of household chores among your support group will give you so much more than free time during these 3-4 weeks, it will bring you closer to your little one.
Regression & Postpardum Period
The regression of your uterus begins immediately after birth and is triggered by breastfeeding. When your baby sucks on your breasts, the hormone oxytocin is released, causing the uterus to contract to its original size. It’s even noticeable!
The postpardum period is a bleeding that begins immediately after birth and lasts about 4-6 weeks. Wound secretions are excreted from the uterus while a wound, where the placenta was attached, heals inside the uterus. At first, the weekly flow is red and more severe than a menstrual bleeding. Later, the flow weakens and turns an oxidized brown color. To complete this phase, the period blood will brighten in color just before it stops. If your postpardum period doesn’t stop after 6 weeks, make sure to seek advice from a medical professional. If the flow stops suddenly or prematurely, there may be a build-up or block and must be treated. It’s important not to use tampons or a menstruation cup at this time. They will only block the flow of things. A jumbo pad is usually used or, nowadays, period panties can also be used but often changed.
If you have the option of an aftercare midwife, she can be an invaluable help during the postnatal period. Every day she evaluates what’s going on, the progression and to observe the development of the baby. She can be extremely helpful and knowledgeable to soothe puerperal symptoms or breastfeeding problems as well as aid you through any emotional swings. After a few weeks, the midwife comes only every other day, and after 8 weeks, the care is complete, unless there is a particular need for further help.
In order to support this fragile phase in a woman’s life, FEMNA Health offers the Mommy’s Revival Tea with shepherd’s purse and nettle. This herbal blend contains medicinal herbs that have been recommended for centuries by wise women after birth. They ensure that the uterus returns optimally, that the flow of the after-birth period runs smoothly and that the birth-wounds heal.
Puerperium Part 2: 4-6 Weeks After Birth
Even 4 weeks after birth, the body has not completely healed and the pelvic floor is not very stable. Breastfeeding, at this point, should feel more routine. Gradually, you can start to do light workouts like yoga at home, for example. Be aware of your limitations which will be quite low at first. Start doing things at a very slow pace and increase it just a little bit every day!
Let your partner or loved-ones walk with the baby so you can have time to rest or do something for yourself. Try not to get sucked into household chores or other types of work, rather enjoy a break in peace! Since your sleep pattern is likely to be very erratic at the moment and is often interrupted, sleep will get as much as you can.
Complaints after birth
After birth, many women deal with back pain or tight shoulders due to unfamiliar breastfeeding positions. Light stretching exercises or a small neck massage can be very helpful. Sweating is quite normal at this point – the hormone changes after birth causes persistent sweating during the entire breastfeeding period. Remember to stay hydrated and also to consume enough food, and more than you might think.
If, after giving birth, you feel depressed or emotionally unwell for more than a few days, or if you feel that you are not in proper contact with your child, it is advised to seek help from your midwife or gynecologist. Postnatal depression is very common and not at all a sign that you are doing something wrong. Often, it takes only a few days but can last much longer. Having a child is a huge change in life and its demands can effect women psychologically and emotionally. Birthing has even been reported to bring back the mother’s own early experiences as a child and that may be expressed in unstable mood swings, sadness and irritability. External support, both emotionally and physically, is an important aspect at this point. About 15% of women experience a depressive phase after giving birth, so there is no reason to feel alone or ashamed in this.
Treat Yourself to an Herbal Indulgence
If you want to indulge your post-baby body with something soothing and healing yet decadent, our fragrant Mommy’s Belly Oil is specifically developed for the period after birth. The oil is applied on the stomach and gently massaged. The contained oils, such as yarrow, are a blessing for the abdomen, both for the skin and for the deeper tissue.
And don’t forget to enjoy sex after giving birth, it is completely safe.