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New moms have their hands full, but they shouldn't neglect postpartum self-care.This article tackles common postpartum problems that every woman should know about.

You know you can count on your medical team to spot complications during your labor and birth and in the immediate postpartum period, but what happens when you head home? While the danger of truly emergent complications will usually have passed, postpartum problems can still pose a threat.

How should you take care of yourself when you have just had a baby, and what are the signs of postpartum complications every woman should know about? 

Caring For Tears Or An Episiotomy Wound

Every woman expects a degree of pain during labor and birth, even if she chooses to have epidural anesthesia. Many women receive an episiotomy — a cut in the vaginal wall — while they are giving birth, and others tear naturally.

These small vaginal wounds can cause a surprising amount of pain that few women expect in advance. 

Your tears or episiotomy might feel sore, raw and swollen and this might cause you some discomfort during normal activities like sitting or walking in the first few weeks. That is nothing compared to what happens when you urinate though. The burning pain you might feel could well be worse than labor contractions! 

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to feel a lot better. You can use a peri bottle to squirt water onto the area when you use the toilet to dilute your urine and take the sting out of the experience. Cold packs can bring down swelling, and over-the-counter painkillers can help if your pain is disrupting every-day activities. 

It is normal for vaginal wounds to take a few weeks to heal, but do watch out for signs of infection. If your wound becomes red, hot, or starts oozing pus see your OBGYN right away. 

Lochia — The 'Mother Of All Periods'

Not getting menstrual periods was one of the joys of pregnancy, but your body will make up for what you "missed" after you give birth to your baby. Lochia, the postpartum bleeding that cleans your uterus of remaining tissues, mucus and blood, lasts between four and six weeks. It will be at its heaviest during the first few days of your baby's life and gradually tapers off as the weeks go by. 

Use postpartum pads or extra-absorbent menstrual pads to catch lochia. Since inserting things in the vagina during the postpartum period can lead to infections, tampons should be avoided.

You should seek medical help if you pass extremely large clots (save them for your OBGYN!), bleed so heavily that you saturate a pad or more an hour, or your lochia smells foul. If your lochia has not stopped yet when you go in for your six-week postpartum checkup, be sure to tell your healthcare provider about it. 

Baby Blues Vs Postpartum Depression

New mothers are expected to feel joyous after the birth of a new baby, but this doesn't always happen. Did you know that between 70 and 80 percent of postpartum moms experience some mood swings or negative feelings after their baby's birth? 

If you have the "baby blues", you may have unexplained sadness or feel irritated and impatient. The baby blues is thought to be caused by the hormonal fluctuations postpartum women are subject to, along with the sheer exhaustion that results from labor and birth and caring for a baby that wakes up every few hours.

The baby blues is a short-term phenomenon that passes within a few weeks, however, and moms who suffer from it will experience joy and happiness as well as struggling with more negative feelings. 

Women who have postpartum depression will find that their emotional state will not lift by itself. Signs of postpartum depression are feelings of hopelessness, constant sadness, emotional numbness, and negative emotions towards themselves and their baby. If you have postpartum depression, you'll lose interest in activities you previously enjoyed, struggle to care for your newborn, and you might withdraw from your loved ones.

Read More: The Best Way To A Speedy Postpartum Recovery

Postpartum depression does not mean you are a bad mother or a horrible person; it is a medical condition that you did not choose. It does not usually go away by itself, so don't be ashamed to seek help if you recognize yourself in the symptoms — especially if you feel you can't take care of your baby or have thoughts of harming yourself or your newborn.

Thankfully, help is available in the form of counseling, hormone treatment or antidepressants.  
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