The pains and inconveniences of pregnancy and labor are well known and there are now many natural or non-natural methods to deal with them. Less known is the world of post-partum, beautiful because our baby was finally born but not without small ailments and pains.
Normally these are not particularly serious problems or disorders, they often have a precise meaning that reminds us how our body has changed, what intense and important experience it has had throughout pregnancy, labor and childbirth. It is however important to recognize and understand which are the main ailments and which we can consider alarm bells, in order to know promptly when to contact the doctor or when we can rest assured.
Pain after natural childbirth
The type of childbirth greatly influences the type and especially the localization of pain after childbirth. The areas of the lower abdomen (from the navel down to be clear) and the perineum are most affected, whether an episiotomy has been performed or not.
Common pains after a cesarean delivery
Compared to the natural birth with the caesarean section there will be less pain at the perineal level, as the baby has not passed through the vaginal canal to be born, but the abdominal discomfort from the stomach to the pubis, just to make a sort of hypothetical delimitation.
Read also: How to cope with 40 days after giving birth
Postpartum pain: how long does it last?
In reality, there is no equal duration for all women. Like many of the things that concern the birth path, individual variability is king even in painful situations and in their appearance and disappearance. Much also depends on the type and location of the pain, as well as on the cause. For this reason it is basically impossible to say how long they last, as a reference period we always take i forty days after giving birth. But even if they were sixty or a hundred, the important thing is that they are under medical supervision and that their intensity constantly decreases until they disappear. I will now try to list which are the most common ailments / pains in the two types of birth, also trying to understand when to be alarmed and when not.
Sweat is not actually a pain but it can be a nuisance, especially if it is very intense. Sweating allows us to keep the internal temperature of the body constant, avoiding overheating the internal organs that work the most. In the case of postpartum many mothers sweat in the armpits abundantly because the proliferation of the breasts and the increased activity of the mammary gland due to the initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding produce more heat, which is dissipated through sweat. Another area where people often sweat is the groin. Partly due to physical conformation, partly because it is subject to significant trauma during natural birth, the groin is often subject to intense sweating even when the lochiations (leaks) are over. Also in this case it serves to keep the temperature of the area constant so you should not be particularly alarmed.Read also: Postpartum and head of parental losses
Postpartum breast pain
Regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or not, breast pain should be carefully considered. Initial breast pain may be normal because it is induced by hormones that complete the maturation of the mammary gland preparing it for breastfeeding. However, this type of pain is very very mild, more like a discomfort that tends to disappear in the first days after delivery. In case you are breastfeeding breast pain located near the nipple during breastfeeding should not be underestimated because it could be a sign of an incorrect latch of the baby. If, on the other hand, the pain occurs between feedings and is not limited to a feeling of tension and "fullness", the breasts must be emptied as soon as possible or you may experience traffic jams.
In women who are not breastfeeding, on the other hand, having pain immediately after childbirth could be a physiological reaction of the gland that begins its modification anyway. However, after taking the drug to inhibit breastfeeding this pain should go away. Because even in women who decide not to breastfeed right away, there have been cases of breast engorgement. In case of pain therefore always contact the gynecologist.
Post-partum stomach pain and lower abdominal pain
All the internal organs of our body arrived near the end of pregnancy have moved in such a way as to leave as much space as possible for the uterus and the baby. Once the baby is born, it takes some time for everything to return to its original position. This often causes digestive difficulties and pains, resulting in intense stomach pain. Or even pains in intestinal transit. If the pain is bearable there is no need to be particularly alarmed, in a short time everything will be rearranged. If, on the other hand, the pain should be very strong it is better to contact your doctor who with abdominal palpation will be able to understand if there is any distension of the organs and will be able to tell you how to remedy it.
Postpartum abdominal pain
Abdominal pain, especially if located in the area from the navel down, is another factor to consider. Physiologically, there are contractions that slowly bring the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size and are often accentuated during breastfeeding. These pains are the so-called uterine bites, which occur both in the case of spontaneous birth and in the case of a caesarean section; they are absolutely physiological and normal so you just have to wait for the process to be completed for them to fade or disappear. If, on the other hand, the birth was cesarean and the pain is rather superficial near the surgical wound, I recommend that you first observe the wound. If you see it red and swollen or if you feel pain when touching it, it is best to contact your gynecologist to check that there is no infection in progress.
In the case of spontaneous birth, abdominal pain in the area of the lower abdomen that does not subside should in any case be investigated because it could be associated with infections inside the uterus or the presence of small pieces of placenta or amniotic sac that are not expelled. Therefore it is always better to contact the gynecologist.
Post-partum intestinal gas
The intestine in the immediate vicinity of the birth is substantially displaced a little on one side and a little on the other side of the uterus and this situation considerably slows down intestinal transit. This situation continues after delivery until all the organs have returned to their place. The slowing of the transit means that the food remains more in the intestine, inside which the bacteria responsible for the absorption of nutrients are contained. This process of absorption and degradation of food produces gases which are absolutely physiological, but if they are in large quantities, they can cause discomfort and pain similar to light colic. It is a temporary situation that tends to resolve itself in a short time, maximum 4-5 days after delivery (regardless of whether it is spontaneous or cesarean) so no particular alarm, the important thing is to still be able to get rid of intestinal gas whenever there is possible, in order to avoid the distension of the intestinal wall and the intense pain of a colic.
Perineal discomfort or pain
The perineum in case of spontaneous birth is subjected to considerable strain and trauma (regardless of whether an episiotomy is performed or not). A feeling of swelling, soreness and moderate pain immediately after delivery is therefore perfectly normal. The situation should resolve spontaneously after a few days, up to a week and it can be useful in this case to make warm compresses of calendula which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. In the case of an episiotomy the pain and swelling may persist until the scar forms, then slowly disappear. If, on the other hand, the pain continues strong and especially to the touch, it is better to have the wound checked to verify the absence of infections.
Constipation and reduced blood and lymphatic circulation at the end of pregnancy very often cause the formation of hemorrhoids which then become very conspicuous and swollen after delivery. It doesn't happen to all women, but hemorrhoids shouldn't be underestimated. If they are very small and pink, yes swollen and painful but not extremely large, they can be treated like normal hemorrhoids with local ointments that tend to reduce them until they disappear. If, on the other hand, the hemorrhoids are large, congested (dark color) and painful it is better to show them to the doctor, in this case surgical elimination may be necessary in order to ensure that they do not "strangle" becoming necrotic and causing dangerous infections.
Hemorrhages after childbirth are extremely rare, normally one realizes immediately, when the mother is still hospitalized, if the losses are not decreasing and the reason is ascertained. Very often they are due to tiny pieces of placenta or amniotic sac that have not been expelled from the uterus with the afterbirth and which prevent the formation of the so-called safety globe. The safety globe is a kind of stopper that reduces bleeding and prevents bleeding. Whether or not it is formed can be seen both with abdominal ultrasound, and by manually checking how much the uterus has shrunk in size after childbirth. In case the safety globe has not formed and you continue to lose blood, the only solution is the revision of the uterine cavity to eliminate what is left. It is certainly not a pleasant procedure but it is absolutely decisive.
Two rather simple words on a topic like postpartum depression are certainly not exhaustive. However, I will try to give you some indicators that can help you say: ok it's time to ask for help from a professional. After childbirth, the collapse of pregnancy hormones often leads to a rather sad mood, easy tears and for little things. This is not depression, they are called baby blues and are considered physiological. Certainly not to be underestimated because they can evolve into depression, but still not pathological.
If, on the other hand, once you are home, after some time after the birth, a sort of apathy attacks you, the desire to do nothing, the annoyance of hearing the baby cry. If you feel exhausted, isolated from the world, if you just want to cry then these are alarm bells. Also in this case it is not an ongoing depression, but certainly they are moods that if neglected can lead to illness. Do not be ashamed to ask for help from professionals because believe me, sometimes it takes very little, a chat, a few support meetings to prevent a serious and unfortunately increasingly widespread disease such as postpartum depression.