If you have had a vaginal delivery, the average recovery period from swelling, soreness, and stitches is around 6 weeks. A caesarean section will require around 12 weeks of complete healing.
If you have had stitches from an episiotomy, this may take 7-14 days to heal. Prevent your wound and stitches from getting infected by cleaning the area with warm water or antiseptics after using the toilet. Refrain from wiping with dry toilet paper as this could irritate the area. Contact your doctor if the pain worsens as this could be a sign of infection.
If you have stitches from a C-section, the recovery period may be longer. While the surface stitches will heal within 1 week, the stitches in your muscle layer will not completely heal until around 3 months. Contact your doctor if you notice any signs of infection around the area such as redness, swelling or pus, or if you develop a fever.
In the immediate days and weeks postpartum, most of your time and attention will be focused on tending to your newborn’s needs. However, it is important to get sufficient rest and nutrition as your body recovers from the childbirth process.During this period, you will notice the following changes in your body:
You will experience lochia, or vaginal bleeding that is initially heavier than a typical period but will gradually become lighter and intermittent. It will fully stop after about 4 to 6 weeks post-delivery. For postpartum bleeding, use maxi pads rather than tampons, and change your pads regularly to prevent any infection. Call your obstetrician if you find yourself bleeding too heavily (soaking through your pad every hour or bleeding more than 6 weeks postpartum).
Due to hormonal changes, you may also experience symptoms such as hair loss, acne, night sweats and mood swings. These symptoms will even out as your progesterone levels decrease and estrogen levels increase.
You will experience some abdominal cramping as your uterus contracts to its pre-pregnancy size. Apply heat using a heating pad or hot water bottle to the area can help with the pain. The cramps should fade after some time.
After a vaginal childbirth, you may feel the urge to urinate often as the stress of delivery may temporarily weaken the bladder. Some women experience temporary incontinence as a side effect of childbirth. If the incontinence persists, consult your gynaecologist as there are now non-invasive methods using laser to improve mild incontinence problems for women.
Constipation is commonly experienced postpartum, and some women may have haemorrhoids which causes pain and bleeding after bowel movement. Drink plenty of water and consume fruits to ease constipation naturally.
Some new mothers may struggle with the ‘baby blues’ or feelings of being overwhelmed dealing with a baby. However, if these emotions are causing an inability to function and you suspect you may have postpartum depression, call your doctor and seek advice.
If possible, it is advisable to start breastfeeding post-delivery when your newborn is placed on your chest. Breastfeeding requires patience and practice, and it is normal for newborn babies to have trouble latching or staying onto the mother’s nipple. Women are advised to breastfeed exclusively if possible for the first 6 months after giving birth.
A breastfeeding session may take up to 40 minutes during the first few months. Find a comfortable position for yourself and your baby, supporting the back of your baby’s head during feeding with your hand or a pillow. Watch this step-by-step video guide on the latching technique for proper breastfeeding.
Confinement is observed in some Asian cultures in the immediate period after birth for both the new mother and baby. This period is observed by the Chinese for 30 days, Malays for 44 days and Indians for 40 days, with the aim of allowing the mother to recover from childbirth. Traditionally, both mother and baby stayed indoors during the confinement period in order to prevent them from falling sick.