A woman's pregnant body undergoes so many changes externally—a growing belly with that pregnancy glow—and internally from hormonal changes to your organs shifting and moving to make way for the baby. Once the baby is brought into the world, the body also needs time to adjust as well.
Laura Fry had wanted to prove this vital point of letting your body adjust in a Facebook post that included a fascinating visual that many women probably don't realize. After childbirth, mothers need rest because inside their body is a wound the size of a dinner plate you have at home. Yes, it’s that big.
The average size of a dinner plate is 22 cm or 8.6 inches, writes Laura. It also happens to be the average diameter of the placenta. When a baby is born, the placenta detaches from the mom’s uterus, and it leaves a wound the size of that plate. “That wound will take at least four to six weeks to completely heal. During that time they are still susceptible to infection and hemorrhaging,” she says.
She adds, “Even if [mothers] have a complication-free vaginal delivery and feel okay, they will still need to take care of themselves and not overdo it for those first several weeks postpartum.
“To those mothers, rest! To their husbands, partners, parents, in-laws, friends, let them rest! Help out as much as you can and don’t let them overdo it!”
Laura had a disclaimer on her post that she isn’t a medical professional. She is, however, a birth advocate and runs the Labor of Love Facebook page.
Both infections and hemorrhages postpartum are not common occurrences, but they can be dangerous. Infections can be due to the open wounds in the uterus, lacerations in the cervix, vagina, and perineum, and the C-section wound.
“Infections in your uterus can lead to blood clots, infections in your kidneys can cause kidney problems, and infections that get into your bloodstream can cause sepsis,” according to What to Expect. Symptoms of an infection include fever, pain, and foul-smelling discharge.
On the other hand, a postpartum hemorrhage is characterized by excessive bleeding in mothers who have just given birth. After the placenta is expelled from the body, the uterus slowly contracts.
“These contractions help compress the bleeding vessels in the area where the placenta was attached,” explained Stanford Children's Health. “If the uterus does not contract strongly enough, these blood vessels bleed freely and hemorrhage occurs.” Excessive bleeding can cause a severe drop in the mom's blood pressure and may lead to shock and even death.
- The point is to take care of yourself. Here are a few do's to follow after giving birth.
- Move slowly and carefully
- Get out of bed by rolling to your side before getting up
- Lie down every few hours to relieve the pressure that is usually on your perineum when you are in a sitting or standing position
- Draw in your pelvic floor when trying to get up from a sitting position or to sit down
- Shower every day to clean your perineum
- Let your doctor or midwife know if you experience any sudden increase in bleeding, if the blood you are passing suddenly becomes bright red, or if you experience signs of an infection.
Remember, it’s okay to ask for help—you need it.
This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.