Postpartum Pains 101: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

During pregnancy, pains and aches are a normal occurrence. Carrying and forming a new life in your belly is an experience like no other, but it does come with its problems.

When expecting, mothers-to-be usually impatiently count down the days until the baby is due, excited to hold their child. Also, they can hardly wait to say goodbye to pregnancy aches and pains!

Unfortunately, not every woman is so lucky. In fact, plenty of women continue to experience intense pain even after giving birth.

If you’re an expectant mother, and you’re nervous about postpartum pains, this article will provide an overview of what type of pain you can expect after giving birth, as well as how to manage it.

Most Common Postpartum Pains

Soreness

Experiencing soreness, especially in your calves, is quite normal. Moreover, don’t be surprised if your calves swell up a bit. However, if you notice substantial swelling, it’s possible that you could have a blood clot or even deep vein thrombosis.

Blood clots are easy to spot since pain and swelling are the primary symptoms. On the other hand, deep vein thrombosis is a bit more difficult to spot, as it can cause some unexpected symptoms, such as shortness of breath. This is a symptom that’s easy to associate with other health conditions, for example, heart or lung disease.

How to Deal With It

If you notice swelling in your calves, schedule an appointment with your doctor. You will need to do ultrasonography of your lower extremity veins and arteries in order to determine what the problem is.

Your doctor will probably tell you to apply an anticoagulant to the swelling, and possibly wear compression socks. Moreover, you may need to get a filter placed in your venae cavae (Latin for hollow veins). In order to prevent blood clots from going into your lungs.

Body-Aches

Since a woman’s body endures incredible strain during birth, every woman experiences postpartum body-aches. However, not all aches are the same. Some can last up to a few days after giving birth, while others can last for several weeks.

One of the most common aches women experience is usually located in the lower back area. However, headaches and shoulder stiffness are quite common, as well. If you think about it, body aches are pretty normal, considering your entire body is under a huge amount of strain during the pregnancy, and especially when the contractions start.

How to Deal With It

Since it’s quite normal to experience body aches, there’s no reason to rush to the doctor just yet. If the aches subside in a few days, there’s no reason to make an appointment. However, if the aches last for more than 5–6 weeks, the best solution is to get a professional opinion.

Your doctor will perform a check-up, and will most likely give you some pain medication to relieve the aching.

If you’re suffering from bad headaches, acupuncture is also a good solution.

Tender Breasts

Women’s breasts tend to swell even in the early stages of pregnancy. It’s most likely that you had to buy new bras due to their increasing size.

However, you can expect your breasts to swell up even more after your baby is born. That’s because they’ll start to produce milk. This engorgement can be quite painful for most women.

How to Deal With It

The best way to deal with painful engorgement is to breastfeed your child as much as possible. By nursing, you will get rid of the excess milk in your breasts, and you’ll feel instant relief.

If possible, breastfeed your child 10–12 times a day, and avoid making longer breaks between feeding. However, if you’re not able to breastfeed as many times during the day, you can also use a breast pump.

Additionally, if you’re still feeling some discomfort, you can use an ice pack to further relieve the pain.

If you’re not planning on breastfeeding, you can also use analgesics.

Constipation

If you were medicated during delivery, you’re bound to feel constipated afterward. Luckily, constipation is completely normal, and easy to manage.

How to Deal With It

Ask your doctor to give you a prescription for stool softeners. Also, you should eat plenty of foods high in fiber, and drink lots of fluids. You’ll be fine in no time.

Contractions

Experiencing contractions after giving birth is more common than most people think. If you experience postpartum contractions, that’s simply a sign that your uterus is shrinking back to its pre-pregnancy shape and size. This process is called involution.

Remember that your uterus can grow up to 25 times its original size during pregnancy, so it’s normal for it to shrink back afterward. Also, it’s most likely that you will still look like you’re pregnant until it returns to normal.

How to Deal With It

In order to deal with these contractions, the best solution is to ask your doctor to prescribe some pain medication. However, if you want to help quicken the process, you should make sure to urinate frequently and breastfeed as much as possible. Also, you can do the same breathing exercises you did during the delivery.

Perineal Tears

If you had a vaginal delivery, you can expect perineal lacerations (tears). Depending on the severity of the tear, you may need surgery. However, if you’re lucky, you won’t require any treatment, your wound will simply heal on its own.

How to Deal With It

If you’re experiencing pain in the perineal area, the best way to deal with it is to wear loose-fitting clothing, keep away from strenuous activities, and relax.

You can also manage the pain by placing an ice pack directly onto the wound and drinking plenty of fluids. However, if the pain is unbearable, contact your doctor for some pain medication.

Scar Itches from C-Section

Healing scars tend to itch quite a bit. Unfortunately, you will just need to be patient and try not to scratch yourself so the scar can heal faster.

How to Deal With It

If the itching is unbearable, the best way to deal with it is to put an ice pack on the wound and keep it there for a few seconds.

Bleeding

Vaginal bleeding is also common after childbirth. However, it’s important to keep track of how long the bleeding lasts. It should stop by your sixth week postpartum.

Also, keep track of how heavy the flow is. If you’re bleeding heavily after 10 days postpartum, you could be experiencing postpartum hemorrhage. If so, you will need to contact your doctor immediately.

Unfortunately, postpartum hemorrhaging brings with it a few other side effects such as chills, low blood pressure, blurred vision, fatigue, heart palpitations, and nausea.

How to Deal With It

Unless you’re experiencing postpartum hemorrhaging, you can deal with bleeding in a few ways:

  • Contact your doctor for medication that will help shrink your uterus
  • Surgery to remove any placenta left in your uterus
  • Getting a blood transfusion

Final Thoughts

Postpartum pain is pretty normal, and depending on the type and intensity, it can be dealt with at home.

However, even though postpartum pain is quite common, you should always contact a medical professional if you’re unsure of what the problem is.

Doing so is especially important if you’re a new mom, and all this is new to you.

Overall, with the right treatment, your postpartum pain will disappear in no time, and you’ll be able to fully enjoy your life with your precious newborn baby!

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