The Post-Delivery Physical Changes, Exercises & Care of Woman
During the pregnancy, the lady undergoes many mental and physical changes which have been discussed in details in the previous pages. As hinted earlier, most of these changes vanish and the lady’s body becomes almost normal. In fact, seeing her son or daughter in her laps she gets a sort of mental peace and happiness at successfully consummating her womanhood. Only when she comes out of that euphoria that she looks at her body. The reversible body changes normalize within 6 to 12 weeks. Let us first pay attention to the changes that her body undergoes during pregnancy and following delivery.
(a) Physical Changes after Pregnancy
There occur certain physical changes in the breasts, vaginal region, and the lower stomach area.
Immediately after delivery, the stomach becomes totally flat. But if one sees it closely one can feel the hard womb between the navel and the lower abdominal region. Even after delivery, the mild constriction could be felt, causing mild pain. Every day the enlarged womb constricts to regain its normal size. In about a week’s time, it goes down and is not felt even by touching the lower abdomen, although it takes about 6 to 8 weeks to regain its normal position. It is believed that if the mother feeds her child with her own milk, the womb regains its normal position rather early. Hence the mild pain caused by the constriction of the womb is a normal feature not warranting any special care.
After delivery, the bleeding continues for about 40 days from the Vagina, which is also a normal process. Immediately after the delivery, the discharge is red like blood, occasionally having pieces of the dead corpuscles. This red-blood-like discharge continues for 3 to 4 days. Then the color of the discharge change to brown or light brown. In about 4 weeks or maximum 40 days, this discharge ceases. Normally the feeding mothers have an early stoppage of this discharge. If the vaginal discharge suddenly stops or starts giving a foul smell, then it could be because of infection and the doctor must be consulted immediately.
(ii) Abdomen & the Vaginal Region
Just after delivery, the Vagina might ache severely. But There is nothing to worry much as it becomes normal after a few weeks. If the vaginal ache is there accompanied by discharge then the lady should not indulge in the sexual intercourse. The intercourse should be resorted to only after the menstrual discharge. One thing must be remembered that if one indulges in the sexual intercourse even before the starting of the menstrual discharge, the conception can take place. Hence this precaution must be taken by the young mother.
Although apparently there is no change in the breasts yet due to the collection of milk in them they become rather heavy. One interesting arrangement made by nature is that the milk in the breast will continue to ooze till the child is fed by it. If the mother stops to feed her milk to the child the formation of milk, will also stop. To take care of the heaviness of the breasts, the lady must wear an appropriately sized brassiere. Immediately after feeding the breast may become soft only to become heavy with milk after a few hours. In this condition to prevent the nipples from bursting, they ought to be washed with clean water.
In case the mother stops to feed her child even after a couple of weeks of the delivery, the breasts may become hard and heavy and after two or three weeks the milk drying up. If the pain due to this hardness and heaviness of the breasts becomes unbearable, then the lady should consult her doctor because the milk-heavy breasts get infected very soon. It is, therefore, advisable to consult the doctor if the burning sensation or redness be felt on any part of the breasts.
The body-weight gets reduced by 6 to 7 kgs. within two to three days of the delivery. This reduction of the weight is caused by the certain changes brought about in the body because of the delivery. It takes about two to three months for the lady to regain her normal weight. Although the lady might regain her weight existing before pregnancy, but may take longer if a baby girl is born due to social condemnation. To change the concept the wide advertisements on the TV and through print and radio media, the people of India are realizing that daughter is as much an asset to the family as the son. It is advised that the lady should bear it out with patience and fortitude for some initial period. Then the youngling with her activities and movement will generate a wave of affection in the family.
The mother of a boy also has to face the traumatic change, because, in the traditional families of India, a lady is held to be just a producer of the scion of the family. Then the clash of the ego takes place. The newly born boy will have all family member claiming more right on him. The father might like his son to be exclusively his property, the grandfather might see in him the continuance of his lineage and the mother-in-law may have different ideas of rearing up the boy. These changes occur and no one can do much about it then adjust with these. If the lady thinks that whoever might claim whatever right on the boy, yet there can’t be denying the fact that it is through her womb that the boy has come to the world, that she is his mother many of such complications will clear out automatically.
The family members must also realize the delicate situation, yet the flabbiness of the body may enhance a few kilo extras. For reducing this weight and regaining the weight and normal shape, she must perform the exercises given in the next chapter.
(b) Mental Changes
Just after the delivery, the behavior of the lady becomes rather complex. This is also a natural phenomenon Because the sudden change in her life brought by her issue alters her total attitude to life. It is because previously she was not a mother. She was just a woman sharing her life with her husband. Now both the persons are tangibly jointed by a third existence. It is through her son or daughter that she becomes one with her husband. But unfortunately, in our country rooted in the feudal values, the mother of a son has much-exalted status than that unfortunate woman who mothers a daughter. All the affection, sympathy and care that the lady receives before the delivery vanishes in a trice. She becomes rather an object of scorn and ridicule if she has mothered a daughter. This traumatic change brings a sea change in her attitude and bearing as though, a sort of with complex, she adds to her miseries. Fortunately with the development of modern awareness now the other household people have begun to understand the state of mind of the new mother and they act accordingly. They must continue to give the fullest care to her. It must be clearly understood that post-delivery care of the lady is as vital as rearing up the child. A slight lethargy in this state might create a permanent problem in her life. When she should be given the ritual bath and when all the other hygienic considerations should be put into practice must be done in a proper manner.
To make the lady regain her pre-pregnancy form and charm, some exercises are very essential. The basic aim of these exercises is to make her extended muscles regain their normal form.
Simple exercises should be begun by the lady, even a day after the delivery on her bed itself. These exercises go to revitalize and reform the muscles around the waist, stomach, pelvic region and the vaginal area. These simple exercises can be divided into three main categories.
1. The exercise of the pelvic muscles.
2. Exercises of the stomach muscles.
3. Exercises of the waist.
Immediately after a few days of the delivery, the region may be aching. But not-with-standing this pain, the exercises could be started. Only one precaution must be taken. If the delivery has been brought about by the operation, no exercise should be done for at least six months of the delivery because exercise in these conditions might open up the stitches. The exercises and physical care is given in the book are normally for the normal delivery. These exercises, in the normal delivery cases, can be started and performed not only one or twice but repeatedly.
Try to constrict your vagina and keep it as it is for three seconds. Then later try to keep the region constricted for 6 seconds. Afterward, release the constriction. Do this exercise for 50 to 60 times a day.
This exercise can also be performed lying on the bed. Join your legs together and then move your feet as much back as possible. Then try to touch your bed by your full sole. Then revolve your feet circularly. Repeat the exercise for 8 to 10 times. The movements have been shown in the figure below.
Lie flat on your bed and keep your soles flat on your bed. Now inhale deeply and inflate your stomach. Then gradually deflate your stomach while exhaling slowly.
This exercise is like the Shavasan, mean to relax the muscles totally. Do it like you do Shavasan as given in the exercises before the delivery.
Lie on your back and keep the full sole firmly planted on the bed. Now try to press down your back so that it loses its arch and becomes one with the bed-level. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Exercise could be performed while lying down and standing close to a wall or some other flat surface. Repeat it at least three to four times at a stretch, then do it again. Repeat it six to seven times.
Lie down on your back, keeping soles firmly planted. Constrict your stomach muscles lifting the right hand along with the shoulder to touch the floor or bed on the left side. Similarly repeat this exercise with the other hand also. Repeat this exercise 5 to 7 times with both the hands.
Lie down on your bed or floor on your back. Keep both of your hands over one another on your chest. Now slightly raise yourself to the reclining position, without moving your feet. Try to keep them as much firmly planted as you can. In order to do so, you can fix them under some sofa or table. While doing this exercise the hands can be rested behind the head also.
As explained in the exercise given in the pre-delivery exercises’ section, never lift anything from the floor by bending your body from the back. It is always advisable to sit down on your knees and then lift the desired object. Then the undesired pressure will not be felt on the spinal chord. Try to lift a moderately heavy object from the floor a couple of time by following the above mentions instructions.
Note: Out of these, the exercises nos. 1 to 4 can be performed immediately a day after the delivery and the remaining ones may be performed after two weeks or so. The basic idea behind these exercise to revitalize the overstretched muscles and tendons and give the body its normal amplitude of movement. In no case should they cause any extra exertion?
Strenuous Exercise Including Yogic Ones
Given below are some exercises which should be done after 1 to 6 months after the delivery in the normal delivery cases. For cesarean operation cases, the baby should do exercises only after getting the green signal from her doctor.
Neck & Eye Exercise
As instituted earlier, the eye-sight does fall during pregnancy and the breast-line also sag a bit. These neck and eyes exercises will take care of both the problems.
- Keeping the head still and as relaxed as possible, gently allow the eyes to move up and down at least six times. The eyes should move slowly and regularly as far down as possible and then as far up as possible. The whole action should be effortless. And as the muscles become more relaxed you will be able to look for low down and higher up as a consequence. Repeat six movements twice or thrice, resting for a second or so in between.
- Move the eyes from side to side as far as possible without any force or effort, for six times. As you did in the earlier exercise, when the muscles begin to relax, you will be able to move them farther easily and effortlessly. Repeat twice and thrice but do it with the minimum possible efforts. If you increase the strain than the basic purpose of the exercise shall be defeated. They are meant to lessen your tension and strain on the eye-muscles and not for enhancing it. Give a second’s pause between the repetitions.
It is essential that you perform these exercises without feeling that you are doing some exercise. Do them as casually and effortlessly as possible. You can perform these exercises even while waiting at the bus-stop or even while traveling on a train and looking through the window. It is vital also for their efficacy that their performances should not create even an iota of the burden on your mind.
- Hold up the index finger of the right hand about eight inches in front of the eyes, then look from the finger away, to a large object You might espy and like, at least about 10 feet away. Anything will do-be it the door or a window. Now look from one to the other ten times, then rest for a second. Repeat the ten glances two to three times. Do this exercise fairly rapidly.
The following exercises are meant to loosen up your constricted neck muscles and should be performed even if a course of spinal treatment is being undertaken. Perform them just when you leave your bed in the morning. The total time taken up in these exercises would not be more than four to five minutes.
- Stand as comfortably as you can with hands at the sides. Then raise your shoulders as high as possible. Still keeping them raised, draw them as far back as you can, then lower them and return to the normal position, making a circular movement with the shoulders fairly briskly. Repeat this twenty-five times, making the movement one continuous stroke with circular rise and fall of the shoulders. Do it twenty times the reverse way also.
- Allow the chin to drop as far forward as possible, on to the chest, keeping the neck relaxed and not stiffy. Then raise the head and allow it to fall as far back as possible towards the back side, towards the shoulders and back repeat it twenty times.
- Drop the chin forward on to the chest as in the previous exercise, then describe a complete circle with turning the head first over the right shoulder, then down over the back, next over the shoulder, and return to the first position. Repeat it in the reverse direction also. Describe twelve complete circles. Make sure that your neck remains fixed all the time-otherwise you may feel a bit giddy. Do it in a relaxed and carefree manner. Effortless movements is the key to success of these exercises.
Besides Pranayam and the Shavasana do the following Asana to strengthen and to tighten the muscles around the breasts.
Exercise to improve the breast muscles :
(a) Gomukhasana or The Cow Face Posture: Since this pose imitates the face of a cow, it is known as Gomukhasana. Gomukha means face of a cow in Sanskrit.
Sit down on the floor with legs stretched forward. Now fold the left leg at the knee and sit on the left foot. Fold the right leg also and place the right thigh on the left thigh with the hands.
Now, lifting your buttocks bring the heals of both the feet till they touch together.
Fold the left arm now behind your back over the shoulder. Fold the right arm behind the back but under the right shoulder. Now band the fingers of both the hands into two hooks to clasp each other firmly.
Remain in this pose with normal breathing for about 30 seconds. Keep your head and back erect and eyes gazing straight at some chosen point.
Repeat it reversing the position of legs and hands and maintain the pose again for 30 seconds. Then come out of the pose and relax. Do this exercise at least a couple of times with each hand whichever breast you want to tone up should be involved more in the exercise-that is, perform more exercises with the hand of the desired side. This exercise tremendously benefits the breast muscles and tightness their shape. Besides strengthening the breast and shoulder muscle, this exercise also makes leg muscles more elastic. Owing to the pressure exerted by it on the breast muscles and muscles above waist the tendency of the breasts to say forward diminishes considerably and they become firm and well shaped.
(b) The Kagasana or The Crow Pose: Kaga means a crow. Hence the name of this asana. Your body while doing this exercise almost assumes the crow-like posture.
Squat on the heels raised. Place the palnes flat on the ground in front while keeping the arms in line and shoulders outstretched as much as you can. Now spread the fingers like claws of the bird, in front of you. Then raise the body on your toes and try to put pressure on your spread hands. Remain in the posture for 30 seconds to 1 minute and then come out of it. Do it on empty stomach, at least four to five times a day in one go. In case you feel the exertion then give pauses also.
This asana not only helps to elongate your spine and diminish the unwanted arches on it, it also strengthens your arms and shoulder muscles besides unsagging your breast line. However, always perform these exercises with the brassiers on or their effect may be adverse on the breast muscles.
(c) Dolasana or the Swing Pose: Dola means a swing in Hindi or Sanskrit, hence the name. Sit in Padmasana as explained in the pre-delivery exercises. Now inhale deeply, lift the legs and thighs to the level of the elbows by exerting pressure on your hand while keeping the Padmasana posture intact. Now keep your entire weight on your hands and the chest fully expanded while abdomen as much constricted as possible. Remain in this pose as much as you can. Repeat it now after changing the position of the legs in the Padmasana.
This asana makes your hand very elastic, supple, yet firm and the chest region and breast unsagged and taut. Thus not only the breast muscles become strong and well-formed but the whole of the upper part of the body becomes quite shapely and attractive.
Hips & Leg Exercises
(d) Vajrasan: Vajra means thunderbolt which is believed to be the strongest weapon in the mythological records. It makes your lower part quite firm yet supple.
Kneel down on the floor with your knees, ankles and big toes touching the ground. Now sit down on your heels and place your paims on the knees. Keep yourself erect but relaxed. Breathe deeply but evenly and slowly. Expand your chest and draw the abdominal region inwards.
This asana is especially good for the abdominal muscles and almost rejuvenates the extended muscles during the pregnancy. This posture can be practiced anytime even after taking meals. It strengthens the spine, removes pain in spine and tones up the sexual organs also. Its regular gives longevity and postpones old age. It also helps normalize the menstrual cycle.
(e) Bhujangasana or the Snake Posture: Lie flat on your belly on the floor. Place your palms on the floor by the side of your trunk. Keep the elbows bent. Exhaling slowly lift the head and trunk back and up. Straighten your elbows by pressing the palms on the floor and raising the trunk. Now exhaling, bend the knees and bring the legs in a perpendicular position on the ground. Exerting more pressure on the right hand, remove the left hand off the floor and bring it back and clasp the left knee. Now similarly bring the right arm back. Thus balanced on your thighs and the pelvic region, pull on your thighs and the pelvic region, pull on your knees and while exhaling increase the curve of your spine. Try to bring the back of your head and the feet in the contact. Hold the pose for 15-20 seconds and then release the knees and come down to the floor and relax.
This is a very good asana for the spinal and abdominal region. It helps the flabby portion of this region become firm, soft and smooth.
Note: After doing these asanas always end them with the Shavasan to remove the fatigue and relax the whole body. It is better to do these asanas in an airy place where sufficient diffused sunlight is available. Better do them on the empty stomach. Doing them even once or twice a week after a few weeks of delivery will be better. Their frequency should be increased.
GENERAL HINTS ABOUT THE DIET
The importance of diet can’s be gainsaid. Food is the most basic requirement of the human body. The diet plays a very important role in the weight-reduction programme after delivery. But you must be aware that delivery takes a heavy toll on your body. Hence your diet ought to be tasty, nourishing and at the same time having sufficient roughage to stimulates the bowel movement. There should be enough of fiber contents in the food items as fibers are necessary for the proper assimilation of food.
There are three most important factors required for a well-balanced diet:
- First, one should choose nourishing food for energy and vitality can be maintained and increased through the judicious use of foodstuffs.
- Secondly, one should eat in moderation, i. e., slightly less than one’s fill, because in this way the body feels light, active and energetic. Eating more than efficiency and at time shortens life.
- Thirdly, food should be thoroughly masticated or chewed and mixed with saliva to aid digestion and assimilation. Each mouthful should be chewed ten to fifteen times until it is thoroughly soaked in saliva, reduced to a pulp and then into liquid form.
Meals should be eaten slowly, in peace and calm. It is an old saying in Hindi that “One should drink one’s food and eat water”. It means that food should be masticated so much as to reduce it into a liquid form and water should be imbibed as slowly as possible. One must have a glassful of water at least half an hour before meals, no water during the meals and as much water as one wants after an hour or so of having your meals.