Health Topics

Healthy Living

July 2011
Dr. Geeta Chadha
On the course of recovery after the delivery, there are a couple of protocols to be followed.The period after delivery is called Puerperium and it lasts for six weeks. Essentially, during this time, the female body reverses most changes that occurred in various organs and systems during pregnancy, back to pre-pregnancy levels.

Variousaspects that a woman has to bear in mind soon after delivery are as follows:
  • Care of wound and episiotomy stitches (if  there are any). It is important that care and hygiene of perineum (region of the body including the perineal body and surrounding structures) is maintained strictly to help the perineal wound heal quickly without any infection or wound gaping later. For this, wash the perineum with an antiseptic solution followed by an ointment for a week or two till there is complete healing.

  • Sanitation should be the topmost priority. Since the uterine size has to come back to normal pre-pregnancy level, this is achieved by the process of involution, during which the uterine decidua is shed. This is seen externally as vaginal bleeding for a few days, followed by a vaginal discharge that gets lighter and lighter in colour as time goes by. It is important that you change your sanitary towels regularly and frequently, every 4-6 hours or earlier as per requirement, to prevent infection.

  • Eat well, feed well. Since the baby is totally dependent on the lactating mother for the  nutritional requirements, you have to look after your nutrition very well and also take supplements like Iron and Calcium.

  • Breast Care. Clean the nipples every time before offering the same to the baby, empty the breasts after every feed, avoid giving feed from engorged breasts, treat the cracked nipple to prevent breast infection and inverted nipple.

  • Tuck that baby fat. After immediate convalescence, you need to exercise the perineal muscles and abdominal muscles, in order to try and tone them up to prevent vaginal loosening and abdominal laxity later.

  • Sleep while you can. Above all, in the immediate post delivery period, you have to  understand that baby feeding requirement is every 2-3 hours and you have to adjust your sleep and resting patterns accordingly – so that you are not too tired and ensure that you have enough sleep.

  • Do not forget those contraceptives. After the 6 weeks period of puerperium is over and you resume sexual activity, you need to make an informed choice on contraceptive practices.
Dr. Geeta Chadha is Senior Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New delhi.
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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