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What to expect during post-delivery confinement period

Date: Friday, Aug 14, 2020

Congratulations, your bundle of joy has arrived! Once the warm glow of the first day of parenthood has passed, you can now look forward to a leisurely confinement period bonding with your child –and enjoying your baby bonus too! (babybonus.msf.gov.sg) But handling a newborn can be challenging, doubly so when your body is still recovering from pregnancy. Every woman's first post-delivery week is different, depending on how long the labour was, what kind of delivery they had, and whether this is their first child or not. But some things remain the same across all healthy deliveries: here's what you'll experience as a new mum, in the first few weeks after you bring your baby into the world.

Bleeding

After you give birth, you'll bleed for a while. It’s like having a period, so you'll need to use maternity sanitary pads. This vaginal discharge is called lochia, and is made up of leftover blood, mucus and tissue from the lining of your uterus.1

While the flow may vary from new mum to new mum, it's usually a heavier bleed in the first three to 10 days after you give birth and lasts a few weeks in total. It will be bright red when it starts, then gets lighter both in terms of colour and flow.

You'll also get some blood clots, so don't get too worried if you spot them. You do need to see a doctor if your bleeding is excessively heavy (if it soaks two or more pads in an hour). You can use regular sanitary pads when the bleeding gets lighter, but avoid using tampons in the first six weeks as this may lead to a higher likelihood of infection!

Baby weight

Just because your baby is out of your belly doesn't mean you'll go back to your pre-baby body immediately. In fact, you'll still have a baby belly, and it'll take weeks at least for this to disappear.

Your uterus, abdominal muscles and skin stretched over a few months to accommodate your baby, so they won't go back to their former condition so quickly. It generally takes up to six weeks for your body to revert to its pre-pregnancy state, so you might want to hang on to those maternity clothes for a while longer.

Pains and cramps

Your uterus will be contracting back to its normal size, and you might experience some pains as this happens. These postpartum cramps will be felt in your lower abdomen in the first few days after baby is born. And, if you're breastfeeding, it's normal to feel these cramps as your baby suckles.2

Mood swings

Postnatal blues is common in new mums; this involves feeling easily irritable, tearful or frustrated. Having a baby is a huge life change, so this isn't a surprising reaction. You’ll feel physically and emotionally stressed by the major changes in your life, but this is also due to the hormonal changes that are taking place in your body.

But you don’t have to bear the burden alone, even during your confinement period. Share your feelings with your loved ones, and don't try to do everything yourself as it can get really overwhelming. These postnatal blues generally last for a week or two, so if you're feeling down beyond that, see your doctor as you could be experiencing postnatal depression.

Delivery wounds

If you had a vaginal delivery, the doctor would have made an episiotomy, which is a cut at the perineum (between the anus and the vagina) and this is stitched up once baby arrives. You'll need to take care of this wound so that it heals well; this involves keeping the area clean, washing it each time you go to the toilet (don't wipe with dry toilet paper), and changing sanitary pads regularly.

If you had a Caesarean delivery, you'll have a cut in your lower abdomen; a dressing will be placed over it. Your wound will feel sore for a week or two, so give it time to heal by itself and don't do anything strenuous. Also avoid lifting heavy objects – anything heavier than your baby – during your confinement period.3

If you want to have a Jamu or Javanese massage, wait until it’s been five to seven days after a vaginal delivery. However, if you've had a C-section, you need to wait a month after you've given birth to do so. Check with a qualified massage therapist and your doctor before you get any kind of massage. You might also need to book months in advance, so start your research early.4

Breastfeeding stress and anxiety

Nursing your baby can be overwhelming, as you worry about having enough breast milk for your baby (and how to boost milk supply), whether your baby is feeding enough, and whether you're doing it right. And these feelings are normal, and are especially common in the first few weeks after delivery.

Take care of yourself – eat well and get rest when you can – so that you'll feel less anxious. Talk to a professional, if it's an issue that's really stressing you out.

For more tips, Contact Us to chat with our friendly Club Illume consultants.

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