A postpartum period or postnatal period is the period beginning immediately after the birth of a child and extending for about six weeks. It is the time after birth, a time in which the mother’s body, including hormone levels and uterus size, returns to a non-pregnant state. Lochia is postpartum vaginal discharge, containing blood, mucus, and uterine tissue.
A woman giving birth in a hospital may leave the hospital as soon as she is medically stable and chooses to leave, which can be as early as a few hours postpartum, though the average for a vaginal birth is 1–2 days, and the average cesarean section postpartum stay is 3–4 days. During this time, the mother is monitored for bleeding, bowel and bladder function, and baby care. The infant’s health is also monitored.
The mother is assessed for tears, and is sutured if necessary. Also, she may suffer from constipation or hemorrhoids, both of which would be managed. The bladder is also assessed for infection, retention, and any problems in the muscles.
The major focus of postpartum care is ensuring that the mother is healthy and capable of taking care of her newborn, equipped with all the information she needs about breastfeeding, reproductive health and contraception, and the imminent life adjustment.
Some medical conditions may occur in the postpartum period, such as Sheehan’s syndrome and peripartum cardiomyopathy.
In some cases, this adjustment is not made easily, and women may suffer from postpartum depression, posttraumatic stress disorder or even puerperal psychosis.
Postpartum urinary incontinence is experienced by about 33% of all women; women who deliver vaginally are about twice as likely to have urinary incontinence as women who give birth via a cesarean.
During the postpartum period, a woman may urinate out up to nine pounds of water. The extra fluid that her body has taken on is no longer needed, so the mother may note that her fluid output is disproportionate to her fluid input.
Postpartum mental illness can affect both mothers and fathers, and is not uncommon. Early detection and adequate treatment is required. Approximately 25% – 85% of postpartum women will experience the “blues” for a few days. Between 7% and 17% may experience clinical depression, with a higher risk among those women with a history of clinical depression. Rarely, in 1 in 1,000 cases, women experience a psychotic episode, again with a higher risk among those women with pre-existing mental illness. Despite the widespread myth of hormonal involvement, repeated studies have not linked hormonal changes with postpartum psychological symptoms. Rather, these are symptoms of a pre-existing mental illness, exacerbated by fatigue, changes in schedule and other common parenting stressors.
Postpartum period. (2016, October 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:22, October 3, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Postpartum_period&oldid=742421029