AFTER THE DELIVERY: NORMAL CONVALESCENCE

Doctors have discovered that surgical patients do better if they get up soon after an operation. They find that the bowels and bladder function better, there is less danger from infection, and the patient’s strength returns more rapidly.

The mother may experience some after-pains during the first day or for several days after the baby is born. These are due to the contractions of the uterus, which is rapidly shrinking back to its original size. They are similar to menstrual cramps and, though usually not troublesome, can be controlled by aspirin or similar medicines.

Occasionally a woman will have a chill soon after delivery. This may be a nervous or emotional reaction.

The mother may wonder why her baby is brought to her to nurse about 12 hours after he is born, before she has any milk. There are two reasons for this: the thin fluid she secretes, called colostrum, contains substances extremely valuable to the child; and both mother and child need experience in the art of nursing.

Your intestines will be sluggish after childbirth, so your doctor will probably give you a laxative or a mild cathartic. He will then probably order an enema if your bowels fail to move. Your bladder may be sluggish, too, especially if you had a forceps or a breech delivery. If you cannot urinate, the doctor will catheterize you. This is a quite painless procedure.

You leave the hospital

Most mothers leave the hospital within a week, sometimes less, after their babies are born. You may become impatient and want to go home even earlier. You may even have a spell of restlessness, and beg your doctor to let you go.

Next to the feeling you experienced after your baby was born, there is nothing so wonderful as the way you feel when you, your husband and your baby leave the hospital together. But no matter how much you long for that moment, be sure to take your doctor’s advice. He knows how strong or how weak you are, and how much you are going to have to do when you get home.

In the meantime, take it easy, rest as much as you can, and prepare yourself for the next part of the great adventure of having a baby.

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