Postpartum bleeding, periods, and breasts. . .?

(March 12, 2010)

Post delivery the body of the mother goes through various changes. Changes are visible to the breasts, stomach, perineum, the menstrual cycle and various other parts of the body. The vaginal discharge that occurs after the birth of the baby is referred to as lochia. This comprises of the blood and the old lining of the uterus. Initially the lochia is bright red in color but over the course of the weeks it gets lighter and pinker and eventually whiter before it stops. It is common for the bleeding to occur in starts and stops and even for clotting to be present. If the bleeding intensifies then the woman needs to reduce her physical activities and take it easy by getting some rest. It is best to use sanitary napkins at this time and to avoid using tampons until the time the first period starts after the birth. In the case of a cesarean birth the vaginal bleeding is a lot lesser.

Right after a woman has given birth, her breasts will get full and engorged. The milk that comes out in the first two to three days is known as colostrums and is yellowish in color. This is known to be rich in antibodies and is beneficial for the baby. Post that the in the next few days the milk is then said to ‘come in’. It normally is accompanied by a feeling of hardness in the breasts and engorgement. The best remedy to prevent this engorgement is to keep nursing the baby regularly. This will lead to any pain from engorgement reducing and also helps in softening the breasts.  It is recommended that the women wear a well fitting bra and massage their breasts occasionally. For those women who do not breast feed, they may have a higher chance of feeling pain and engorgement. It is important that they do not express the milk if they do not intend to feed as this will only cause the breasts to keep on producing more milk. Application of an ice pack will help to reduce any pain if so.

Some other changes that women are likely to notice include retention of fluids in their body. Their period normally will not start till they have stopped nursing their child. Initially the periods will tend to be more erratic before they stabilize. The woman will also have some hair loss at the start but the hair will grow back later. They may suffer from hot flashes from time to time.

Submitted by P T on March 12, 2010 at 01:00

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