Following the birth of the baby, the uterus will continue to contract in order to squeeze out extra blood and tissue, and contractions usually increase while you are nursing your baby. The contractions are often much more noticeable with second or subsequent births. Pain medication is available, but you must notify the nursing staff that you want it to be brought to you.
Following your delivery, fluid retained during pregnancy begins to be eliminated. Because of the soreness in the perineal area, sensations associated with urination may be altered. You should frequently empty your bladder so that it does not become overextended. If you are unable to urinate, it may be necessary to insert a catheter to drain the bladder.
Throughout recovery time, you should frequently contract the pelvic floor muscles (Kegel exercise). This increases blood flow to the area, reduces swelling, and speeds healing of the tissues. It also helps restore muscle tone to your pelvic floor.
The nursing staff will instruct you about how to care for the perineal area following your delivery in order to prevent infection and promote healing. To relieve soreness, any or all of the following are available:
- Ice packs to apply to the area for six hours following birth
- Sitz baths (soaking in a warm tub) three times a day
- Warm water washes using a peri- bottle after each bathroom use
- Anesthetic sprays
- Tucks medicated pads
- An inflatable ring on which to sit
Because of the relaxation of the abdominal muscles, soreness of the perineum, and perhaps hemorrhoids, you may have some difficulty in moving your bowels. A stool softener will be prescribed throughout your hospital stay.
You should also drink sufficient fluids and eat a diet that is high in fiber throughout the postpartum period.
If you are an Rh negative mother, your baby’s blood type will be tested. If the infant is Rh positive, you will receive an injection of RhoGAM within 72 hours of birth. This injection prevents your body from producing antibodies that could endanger subsequent babies during pregnancy.
If your baby is a male, you will be asked whether or not you would like to have a circumcision performed. Proponents of the procedure state that it prevents cancer of the penis, infection of the foreskin, and phimosis (inability to retract the foreskin). They also point out the psychological benefits of having a penis that looks like his father’s or his peers’, most of whom have been circumcised.
Opponents of circumcision argue that cancer of the penis, infection of the foreskin, and phimosis can all be prevented by good personal hygiene. They also point out that the procedure carries a risk of bleeding at the time of surgery as well as a delayed scarring of the urinary opening, which may require correction at a later date.
If you have further questions, please discuss them with your pediatrician.