The Truth about Postpartum

Hi Readers! 

This week I would like to explore the subject of postpartum, also known as the postnatal period. This period begins immediately after childbirth as the woman’s body, hormone levels and uterus return to a non-pregnant state. 

The World Health Organization describes this period as the most critical and the most neglected phase in the lives of women and babies. 

The postpartum period can be divided into stages;

1- The initial or acute phase is 8-19 hours after childbirth and is when the mother is monitored by nurses or her midwife as complications can arise during this period. This is the phase where the mother will nurse her baby and optimise skin-to-skin contact.

2- Subacute postpartum period. This is the physical recovery period and lasts 2-6 weeks. The body is changing as it is no longer carrying the baby. There is a possibility of urinary incontinence and Kegel exercises are often recommended. There are also uterine discharges. Women are advised to wear maternity briefs or sanitary napkins. It is not recommended to use tampons or menstrual cups as they may introduce bacteria. New moms can also experience haemorrhoids and constipation. 

This period is also when psychological disorders may emerge. Postpartum mental illness can affect both parents of the newborn child. Early detection of postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and in rare cases postpartum psychosis is required to ensure adequate and early treatment. It is recommended to meet with your doctor within the first 3 weeks and another visit between 4 to 12 weeks of postpartum. 

3- The delayed postpartum period, which can last 6-8 months. During this period, muscles and connective tissue return to a pre-pregnancy state. However, there is still the possibility of urinary and faecal incontinence, pain during intercourse and pelvic prolapse. Symptoms of PTSD often subside during this period. Hair loss is also very common during this period as oestrogen levels drop. 

Going through these stages isn’t easy. If you are a new mom, don’t be hard on yourself, give yourself time to heal, get the support you need, speak to someone in your circle or book an appointment with a professional. 

Be kind to one another.

Julia, Sexologist


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