Pregnancy is a unique time in life that combines a bevvy of emotions—including excitement, anticipation, and, in some cases, psychological stress. Even when labour and birth are positive experiences, women may face challenges in the first few months of their baby’s life. These can include perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), prolapse, and haemorrhaging. While the first few days and weeks after birth are very much centred on your baby, it is also important to be vigilant of your health and wellbeing, taking steps to deal with any issues quickly.
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can affect approximately 20% of women during and after pregnancy. They can sometimes be attributed to the many physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that take place during and after pregnancy. Risk factors for these disorders include economic inequality, sociocultural factors like limited access to healthcare, and sexual or domestic violence. Women with a history of mental illness may also be particularly vulnerable to PMADs because they have had to halt their medication when they got pregnant. PMADs do not always manifest themselves as sadness/depression. It is important to be watchful for the sometimes subtle clues that you are feeling stressed. Signs and symptoms can include sleep issues, feeling confused, irritability, not feeling like yourself, or feeling that things will never be the same. See a professional therapist for diagnosis and treatment. Recommended strategies may include prioritizing sleep, building social support, and embracing mindfulness-based exercise.
Prolapse and Urinary Incontinence
A complicated vaginal delivery may result in a prolapsed uterus, symptoms of which include a feeling of fullness, a sensation that something is “falling out” of your vagina, and having difficulty urinating. Treatments for a prolapsed uterus vary and can include Kegel exercises (to strengthen the floor muscles), estrogen replacement therapy, and wearing a stabilizing device called a pessary. Post-partum urinary incontinence, meanwhile, is the involuntary leakage of urine that can arise for the first time after giving birth. It can be attributed to weakened muscles around the bladder and pelvic area, which can be harder to control after birth. To improve incontinence, Kegel exercise and bladder exercise can help. Both prolapse and urinary incontinence can also benefit from laser vaginal tightening or rejuvenation. This minimally invasive, painless treatment involves delivering fractional light and thermal energy to the vagina to stimulate the production of collagen—the basic building block of skin. This results in a tightening and rejuvenation of the vaginal area.
Post-partum haemorrhaging (PPH) is severe vaginal bleeding after birth. It manifests itself through heavy bleeding that does not stop or slow down, and it is often accompanied by symptoms such as chills, weakness, faintness, nausea, and/or blurred vision. PPH can occur if your contractions were not sufficiently strong enough to push out the placenta in an optimal manner. In some cases, pieces of the placenta can still be attached. Because PPH is a serious issue, see your health provider immediately. Treatment may include surgery, having a blood transfusion, or uterine massage.
The post-partum period can bring issues to the fore, including PMADs, pelvic floor issues, and PPH. During this period, it is important to be vigilant for signs and symptoms of these problems. Women with physical or mental issues following birth should see their health providers to find speedy solutions to their problems to ensure the weeks and months following the arrival of their baby can be as peaceful and joyful as possible.
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTOR:
Sara is now a freelance writer who pens pieces on parenting, and lifestyle but prior to this she worked as an holistic therapist and took a keen interest in diet and fitness. She lives with her partner and their daughter and a menagerie of pets