Her health after birth, the basics
Your partner goes through a vast number of changes during pregnancy, but if you thought it all stopped there once your baby was born – you are wrong!
After the birth, as your partner’s body now is faced with adapting to the fact that there is no longer a baby to nurture, she faces another wide range of physical and emotional changes…
After your baby is born, your partner will experience a sudden drop in oestrogen and progesterone levels. This can cause her moods to be unpredictable, ranging from elation and joy one minute to frustration and tears the next. It is these hormonal changes that also bring on the ‘baby blues’.
PostNatal Depression & mums – what is it? <LINK>
It is also possible that your partner might be dealing with some emotional feelings in relation to her birth – she may be on top of the world if everything went to plan, but she may also be dealing with disappointment or even trauma if it did not.
Try not to get frustrated with her mood swings, as they are not under her control, and they are unsettling for her too, just be there to reassure her.
Physically, your partner is likely to be feeling a little drained to say the least, as giving birth and looking after a baby who wakes up every 2-4 hours for a feed, can be exhausting! In addition to this, she may also be experiencing after-pains, night sweats, blood loss, pain in her perineum and also the fear of that first trip to the loo…
After-pains are contractions of the uterus which happen in the first few hours and days after birth – some women will say it feels like labour is beginning again, while others won’t even notice they are having them. These contractions are a sign that the uterus is contracting back down to its pre-pregnancy size, and are often stimulated when breastfeeding. Therefore, it is worth bearing in mind that your partner might not just be learning how to breastfeed, but also be dealing with contractions at the same time!
If your partner is finding after-pains particularly difficult, seek advice from your midwife on what pain relief options are available to her, depending on your circumstances and whether she is breastfeeding.
Blood loss after birth is similar to a heavy period, but it can last for up to a few weeks. Even if your partner has had a Caesarean birth, she will still have this blood loss, as the bleeding comes from the place in the uterus where the placenta has detached.
If your partner has had a vaginal birth then there is a chance that she will have a sore perineum (the skin between the vagina and anus) from where it has stretched or torn during birth. This is also more likely if she has had stitches. She may also find it uncomfortable to sit down or find going to the toilet difficult or even scary. Support her by running her baths to ease any discomfort, and making cold compresses for her to apply to the area to help soothe it.
Caesarean Birth Scar
If your partner has had a Caesarean Birth, while it is very common, it is still important to remember that it has been a major surgery, and it is likely that she will feel some pain afterwards.
At first, your partner may find even small movements like changing position, are difficult without support, so make sure you give her lots of physical and emotional support while her body recovers.
Many women report night sweats after they have given birth, which is not an unusual side-effect. The body retains extra water during pregnancy and once the baby has been born, it lets go of what it no longer needs. It can be an uncomfortable side effect though, so support your partner be more comfortable at night time by taking care of making sure the bedding is washed and clean.
It can be strange seeing someone you know and love go through, what can be, some tricky changes. In those first early days, when things feel at their most vulnerable, the MOST important thing you can do, is to just be there to support and reassure your partner.