Your post-baby body part 2

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Delivering a baby by vaginal birth demands an awful lot from the female body and it’s only natural that it takes a while for everything to heal and return to normal. Here’s what you should be ready for.

Vaginal recovery

What to expect: An episiotomy, or vaginal tear, is a fairly common occurrence during birth and can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months (depending on the extent of the tearing) to fully heal. You’re likely to feel quite sore at first, but this should get steadily better with time. Most women also experience an unusually high level of vaginal discharge for the first several weeks. You will probably have a heavy, red flow not unlike a period for the first several days. Many women also pass blood clots during this time. This should gradually subside and change in color from red to pink, then brown and finally yellow or white. All of this is perfectly normal and no cause for alarm.

When should you be worried: Some bleeding during this period is normal, but if you find yourself soaking through a maxi pad in less than an hour or if you notice very large blood clots, you may want to call your doctor. If your discharge has an unpleasant or fishy odor, the area may be infected. Also, if you have a sustained fever of 38 degrees C or higher, let your physician know.

How to aid the process: The most important factor in allowing your body to heal is time. To help move things along though, take extra care to keep the area around your vulva clean to avoid infection. Try using a small squirt bottle with water (or a bidet, if your apartment has one) to gently rinse the area after going to the bathroom. If you are experiencing serious discomfort, chill the sore area with an ice pack to ease the pain.

Hair loss

What to expect: There’s a biological reason why pregnant women have that extra-special “glow”; the body is absolutely flooded with estrogen for those nine months. All those extra hormones put a halt to normal, everyday hair loss and result in a particularly lustrous head of locks. It looks fabulous, but, like most good things, doesn’t last forever. After delivery, hormone levels stabilize and and your body ditches all the extra hair in one go. Don’t be alarmed if you start shedding; your hair will be back to its normal pre-pregnancy state in roughly half a year.

What you can do about it: Be extra gentle with your hair during this period to avoid losing any more than absolutely necessary. Try not to use shampoo too often, as it strips hair of its natural oils. This can be a tall order when you live in a hot, humid and, well, sometimes slightly smelly place like Bangkok. Use your common sense and try to wash no more than every other day. Steer clear of any chemical treatments and curling irons for a bit.

References.

1. Mayo Clinic Staff: Healthy Lifestyle – Labor and delivery, postpartum care. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/postpartum-care/art-20047233?pg=2. Accessed December 7, 2014.

Photo Credit: Dutch Design Photography via Compfight cc

ExpectingExpats.com

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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