Postpartum Recovery and Newborn Care Questions and Answers

Question: How long should I expect Lochia to last?

Question: How soon can I go swimming after my baby is born?

Question: My wife is recovering from HELLP Syndrome, both mom and baby are fine. Are there any somatic treatments or 'recovery-supports'  that we could try (maybe multivitamins; special foods; other things ) that are known to possibly give some positive results?  And how long can we expect this syndrome to have its effect on her?

Question: How long should I expect Lochia to last?

Answer: Lochia, or menstrual bleeding after birth, normally will last between 2 and 6 weeks with it gradually tapering to a dark pink staining. If you notice any large clots or heavier bleeding, you need to slow down and pace yourself as you are compromising your uterus' healing as it involutes or returns to it's pre-pregnancy size. You may also notice a distinct smell, don't be concerned unless you have other symptoms like elevated temperature or abdominal pain. Breastfeeding your baby will usually shorten the length of time as will avoiding unnecessary interventions during labour like induction, augmentation and instrumental or a cesarean delivery.

Question: How soon can I go swimming after my baby is born?

Answer: You can go swimming as soon as you want, and it is a wonderful way to relax and get back into shape. However, until your lochia (see question above) has finished, you won't be able to swim in a public facility. It isn't recommended to use tampons while your uterus is still healing because of the infection risk.

Question: My wife is recovering from HELLP Syndrome, both mom and baby are fine. Our child was born 8 month ago and is doing well, but she is still is extremely tired. Our GP says he can't find anything physically wrong with her (tested her blood etc); although she was indeed declared unfit to work by the proper Health Services. Lately, things seem slowly to deteriorate; her fatigue / lack of energy seems to get worse, and so does her spirit; she seems depressed and often lethargic in a way I haven't seen from her yet.

My question is twofold. Are there any somatic treatments or 'recovery-supports'  that we could try (maybe multivitamins; special foods; other things ) that are known to possibly give some positive results?  And how long can we expect this syndrome to have its effect on her?

Answer: I am sorry to hear your wife is not feeling better. It does take a long time to recover, how badly did she develop HELLP before she delivered the baby? If it was caught early, recovery is much quicker than if her liver and kidneys were damaged from HELLP as it can become a life-long disability. I am glad she is healthy in terms of the testing, but sometimes it takes specific tests to ensure no organ damage was done. 

Fatigue could be for many reasons and I would encourage her to consider the possibility of candida or her liver needing nutritional support. Candida is often a strong concern because of antibiotics given during labour, yet it is rarely tested for. It's key symptom is fatigue, thus the reason I am thinking of it. As her doctor to check for candida and s/he will be able to give Marian the information on diet to reduce the candida levels. An internet search will give you excellent information on candida diets as well.

As for her liver, a compromised liver generally doesn't cause fatigue in the absence of other symptoms, but it is the key factor in HELLP syndrome given that it is the liver shutting down that causes HELLP. I would recommend checking with a naturopath specifically for liver cleanses. A naturopath will also be able to help you with candida as well.

And in thinking about this, postpartum depression, especially in light of her feelings of her body betraying her, could be a distinct possibility in terms of her symptoms of fatigue and malaise. Having experienced postpartum depression myself, it can be quite debilitating. I have found in my practice that postpartum depression stemming from a specific instance rather than simply a common malaise is quite easy to treat non-medically. Women who have had an experience like Marian need to grieve the loss of their anticipated birth experience and too often are told to "get over it." Instead of allowing herself to have feelings of sadness and working through them, she may be burying them only to find that as time goes on her depression and anger at the circumstances grows stronger rather than going away. Either journalling about her experience or finding a support group (either locally or online) with women who share her experience of having HELLP syndrome could be very beneficial. Not knowing you or Marian, I am only guessing at any of this and I hope it gives you a place to start looking.

Response: Thank you for your caring and professional reply. 

How badly she developed HELLP is hard for me to say, in fact the hospital didn't tell us at all that she suffered from HELLP, and it wasn't until two weeks after her discharge that a different doctor, reviewing her dossier at a medical check up, mentioned it casually. In the night after delivering the baby she suffered from unbearably fierce pains in the upper abdominal region (she reported them as being worse than her contraction-pains). During the rest of her five day stay at the hospital she was given three blood-transfusions  (three bags/units of blood that is). 

Although she doesn't normally seem to have stomach-or abdominal problems (apart from a tenacious flu-virus last week), it may be wise indeed to look into the possibility of candida, as the symptoms I found listed on the internet match a lot of hers. We filled in an internet candida symptoms test and her score was to be interpreted as "possibly caused by candida" (near probably). I'm not entirely sure I know what a naturopath (to help cleans her liver) is, though. What systems of beliefs does a naturopath adhere to? There are so many natural doctors and would-be-healers out here; that I wonder if you could give me a decisive clue.

Second Answer: You are so very welcome. 

The upper abdominal pain was her liver shutting down and the blood-transfusions would have been because her platelet count would have been severely compromised.  I am glad to hear she is not having further abdominal problems, is her blood pressure normal? Often long-term elevated blood pressure can result from HELLP and can be a signal that there was organ damage. 

Naturopathic doctors are trained specialists in a separate and distinct healing art which uses non-invasive natural medicine. They are not orthodox medical doctors (M.D.s). Naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) are conventionally trained in subjects such as anatomy, physiology, counseling, dietary evaluations, nutrition, herbology, acupressure, muscle relaxation and structural normalization, homeopathy, iridology, exercise therapy, hydrotherapy, oxygen therapy and thermal therapy. Some practitioners are also trained in additional specialties such as acupuncture or natural childbirth.

 

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