Postpartum bleeding is the third most common cause of maternal death among women. It usually happens because the uterus fails to properly contract after the placenta has been delivered, or because of tears in the uterus, cervix or vagina.
Dr Joseph Nsengiyumva, a gynaecologist at Bethany Women’s Hospital, says if the bleeding is severe, your midwife or gynaecologist may massage your uterus to help it contract, or you may be given oxytocin to help stimulate contractions.
He says, “If haemorrhage begins a week or two after delivery, it may be caused by a piece of the placenta that has remained in the uterus. Ensure to report any heavy bleeding to your doctor immediately.”
This breast infection manifests as a tender, reddened area on the breast. Usually caused by bacteria, breast infections results from stress, exhaution or cracked nipples. It may be followed by fever, fatigue, headache, nausea and vomiting. If you have a breast infection, continue to breastfeed from both breasts because mastitis does not affect your breast milk and can be treated with antibiotics. It is also important to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Warm compress at the affected area may help alleviate discomfort; and cold compresses applied after nursing can help reduce congestion in your breast. Avoid tight bras and clothing.
Clogged milk ducts, which can cause redness, pain, swelling or a lump in the breast, can look like mastitis. A breast massage; frequent nursing until the breast is emptied; and warm moist compress applied to the sore area several times a day may solve the problem. However, if you have a lump that does not respond quickly to home treatment, consult your doctor.
New mothers experience urinary incontinence shortly after giving birth. The involuntary passage of urine, especially when laughing, coughing or straining is caused by the stretching of the base of the bladder during pregnancy and delivery.
“With time usually the mother’s muscle tone return to normal but the process can be quickened by doing Kegel exercises. If you have an uncomfortable urgency to urinate and experience pain, tell your doctor since this could be a sign of a bladder infection,” Dr Nsengiyumva says.
Some women, especially first time mothers, experience depression after the birth of their child. This comes as a result of changes in hormone levels and the new responsibility of caring for a newborn. This makes them feel anxious, overwhelmed or angry. However, this moodiness and mild depression go away within weeks.
He advises mothers to be vigilant and watch out for any unusual body changes and see a physician in case of the following symptoms:
Very high fever
Nausea and vomiting
Vaginal bleeding heavier than your normal period
Sore breasts that are hot to the touch
Persistent pain in the vaginal or perineal area
Pain, swelling or tenderness in your legs
Pain or burning when urinating, or a persistent and sudden urge to urinate
Feel depressed, have a lack of interest in your baby, or have suicidal, violent thoughts or hallucinations