Postpartum Care for Mothers After a High-Risk Delivery Helping Moms Heal: After Tough Births, What Comes Next?

March 15th, 2024 | 7:27 am

Childbirth accompanies several emotions – from worrying about the procedure to the excitement of meeting the baby after nine months. However, having a baby can sometimes be taxing on the body, especially if the delivery is high-risk. You will need more time to recover and may have to take extra precautions. 

Postpartum care is essential to the mother to reduce the risks of postpartum issues. As we know, high-risk deliveries include preterm babies, caesarean sections, or complications like preeclampsia – these require special care. It offers help while recovering physically, maintaining mental well-being, and initiating breastfeeding. Additionally, it helps medical professionals keep an eye out for and treat ailments, including infections, postpartum haemorrhage, and psychological issues like postpartum depression. 

Activities and Rest

It’s normal to feel exhausted after a high-risk delivery. Rest is one of the most crucial things to care for right after giving birth. Depending on your doctor’s advice, gradually increase your activity level when ready. Just focus on taking care of your infant and give your body time to heal. Here are a few things you must avoid doing after a high-risk delivery: 

  • Do not climb up the stairs too much. 
  • Refrain from entering swimming pools until the bleeding has stopped.
  • Avoid picking up anything that might put stress or strain on your stomach.
  • Focus on caring for the infant and doing some minor housework each day.
  • Do not drive immediately after the high-risk birth, as it might cause more stress on the surgical area (in the case of a caesarean). 

It could hurt if you have stitches placed there as part of an episiotomy. For comfort and recovery:

  • Within the first 24 hours, apply ice packs.
  • Spend twenty minutes, three times a day, in a sitz bath.
  • Follow your doctor’s or midwife’s recommendations when taking pain medication.

Note: Always use a peri bottle to splash warm water from front to back, and pat dry after using the restroom, having a bowel movement, or changing your sanitary pad.

Birth Control

Before you leave the hospital, ask your doctor if you can take birth control. It is recommended not to be involved in any sexual activity immediately after giving birth, as it might cause damage to the stitches. You can return to the routine after completely draining and healing your stitches. Even after recovery, it is advised that you use condoms. Until your monthly periods become regular, you should use birth control (such as foam and condoms) for the first month if your doctor has prescribed birth control tablets. You are free to resume using the birth control of your choice following your six-week checkup. 

Note: Remember that some birth control methods have an impact on nursing. Talk to your physician or nurse midwife about your options for continued birth control.

Breast Care

Your body will normally make milk, whether nursing or using a bottle to feed your child. Your breasts may become swollen and extremely painful as your milk supply increases. Engorgement starts on the second or third day following your child’s birth. Try different breastfeeding positions, such as: 

  • Side-lying hold: In this position, you and your baby lie on the side with your elbow bent. You can use one hand to support your baby’s head and neck and the other hand to grasp your breast to ensure your baby properly latches on to it. If you feel uncomfortable, you can use a pillow to support your head. 
  • Football hold: In this position, you can use a chair with a broader and lower arm and a pillow. With your open, you can support your baby’s head and face toward your breast and let your baby’s back and body rest on the pillow and your forearm. Support your breast with the other hand to ensure your baby can easily feed. 

Here are some tips for breast care you can follow: 

  • Refrain from touching your breasts.
  • After feeding, apply a cold compress. It might aid in reducing edema.
  • You can wear a supportive bra every day if breastfeeding causes discomfort. 
  • Never hand or pump express milk. This will make the engorgement worse.
  • To increase your milk supply and lessen engorgement, breastfeed your child often.
  • Give yourself a warm shower, or cover your breasts with a warm face cloth. Warmth could facilitate the flow of milk.
  • If your infant is not latching on because your breasts are engorged, try pumping or manually expressing milk before feeding to soften the breast.

Note: If discomfort or pain occurs, contact your doctor immediately to ensure nothing to worry about. 

Postpartum Exercises

It’s a good idea to resume exercising after your six-week checkup, but consult your doctor before beginning a structured fitness regimen. Your body will naturally revert to its pre-pregnancy form except for muscular tone. 

After a high-risk delivery, you can start doing seated kegels, belly breathing, leg slides, and many more that help you with c-section delivery recovery. If you cannot do anything, you can try gentle walking, which helps build stamina. When you have a green signal from your doctor, you can start with more extensive exercise, such as seated kegels, to ensure your stitches are not damaged. 

Additionally, using proper body mechanics can aid in your body’s return to normal. Maintain good postural alignment while you stand, sit, an d stroll. When picking up something, stoop to your knees. Steer clear of bending at the waist, which puts strain and pull on the back muscles.

Eating a Balanced Diet

Continue to consume a well-balanced diet, including foods from all the major food categories, and make sure you get enough water while nursing. Here are some foods that can help after postpartum:

  • Dairy
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Starches and whole grains
  • Protein (plant and animal-based sources)

Doctors might recommend a special diet for nutrition-related concerns. Also, you will be advised by the doctor to drink ten glasses of fluids (water, milk, juices) every day. Moreover, avoiding caffeine, including tea, coffee, soda, chocolate, and other sweetened beverages, is better. In addition, include high-fibre food in your diet, such as lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, and pumpkins, and iron-rich food, such as red meat, poultry, and beans. You can also include fat-free dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt or lactose-free products such as soy milk, tofu, etc. In addition to a balanced diet, it is also advisable to take prenatal vitamins and iron, as the doctor prescribes.

Drinking a proper amount of water is advisable for a better bowel movement. This is because if you have had a caesarean surgery, then constipation might cause complications in the stitches. 

For any significant complications, you can consult a doctor for better advice. Also, do not take any vitamins or mineral supplements without consulting your doctor. Note: Bleeding is common after caesarean births, which lasts for up to 10 days to weeks. The colour of the bleeding might change over time from bright red to brownish tan and then will eventually disappear.