Post-Natal Care


Pregnancy is one thing that is so much desired by every married couple in Africa. It is always expected that after the whole wedding party, the couple should call friends and relations after one year for a naming ceremony.

Pregnancy is one experience every real woman prays to go through. People tend to nurture and take extremely good care of a pregnant woman. So many husbands become more loving the period their wife becomes heavy. I have found out that in most cases it is not because the man cares so much about the woman, but because he doesn’t want to lose the baby. Pregnancy, in the African culture is a thing of pride. This is why you see women struggle so much; some even go to bed with other men just to have a baby for their husband.

It is not every woman that knows how to handle pregnancy. So many grew up with the negative mentality that a pregnant woman is a lazy woman. Some women stop taking care of themselves the moment they become pregnant. So many want everyone around to pity them. Most of the pregnancy-related problems, I have found out, are psychological.

We are not talking about pregnancy here, thank God you are done with all that spitting and vomiting. Congratulations, you made it in and out of the labour room. You are now rejoicing and enjoying your new status as a mother. You deserve every good thing because it wasn’t easy coming out of that room.

By post-natal care we mean after birth care. The word post-natal is derived from the Latin word, ‘post’ meaning ‘after’ and ‘natalis’ meaning ‘of birth’. Biologically, so many things are happening with a woman’s body at this time when hormone levels and uterus size returns to pre-pregnancy conditions.

Before you continue with your celebrations, I want you to go through these tips to enable you come out a better person. So many women have lost their lives and those of their babies because they took to the obsolete ideas of friends and family. I can’t imagine any woman in this 21st century still buying the idea of having a surgery free delivery at all costs.

Ladies hear this, however you have your baby is normal and supernatural so long as you came out alive and the baby is well. There is nothing bad in having your baby through Caesarean section. In fact, most women prefer the elective section because it is no longer as painful as it used to be. It is no longer the long vertical incision most of our mothers went through. Caesarean section is now done horizontally very close to the vaginal.

I will start by talking to women who had their babies through Caesarean section. I have had women come to me for weight loss. What is their reason for having very big tummies —Caesarean section. Caesarean section shouldn’t be an excuse for a big tummy. Rather you should blame it on your inability to take care of yourself after the surgery probably due to ignorance.

As Africans, we are so filled with so many negatives when it comes to Caesarean delivery. I had a Caesarean section here in Nigeria and I also had one in the UK. I can tell you they are two different things entirely. Here the stitches are covered with so many layers of bandage that you even find it uncomfortable. But there in the UK, I wasn’t even covered up. I remember coming out from the theatre at 4.30pm and being allowed to drink six jugs of chilled water before he next morning. Is that the case here? You are told not to taste anything till after 24 hours. There were exercises I was made to take part in just three days after surgery. It’s just a different ball game.

Yes, you have left the hospital and now you are home. I remember my mum pressing my tummy and giving me some good massage after the surgery. So many people avoid this but I can tell you, it helps. Like every other African woman, I was surrounded by people who were ready to pamper me. My mum was there, my mother-in-law was there to attend to every need. I was made to understand I should just wake up in the morning, take my bath, eat, watch television, and sleep again. But that was a very tough one for me. I couldn’t imagine that kind of life and I am happy because I didn’t go for that option.

Gone were the days when women sit and eat all the eatables at home all in the name of breast-feeding. It is a pity that so many women are still living in the days of our grandmothers when a woman was made to eat even when she doesn’t feel like it because of the baby. Ladies, it is not the quantity of  the food that matters, quality is what you need. Cut down on the pounded yam you eat. Yes, the soup is highly nutritious, you can have your soup with the fish and still feel full. It shouldn’t be a time for you to keep drinking Milo and Ovaltine. Go for your low fat milk. It is as nutritious as the full cream; the only difference is the taste.

So many women  forget their post-natal check up as they get so busy entertaining visitors and rejoicing over the birth of the baby. When I talk about check-up, I am not just talking about your usual six weeks with the gynaecologist. A lot of women have died as a result of late detection of  cancer of the cervix. Even when your doctor says nothing about this test, please create time to visit a laboratory for this test known as Paps Smear or Cervical Smear.

In taking a paps smear, a tool is used to gather cells from the outer opening of the cervix of the uterus. The cells are then examined under a microscope to look for abnormalities.

Don’t stop after your post-natal period. Paps smear test should be done every year or at least every three years.

Some women get that cut popularly known as “tear” in the process of delivery. You need to pay special attention to it to avoid infection. Always use warm water with salt and antiseptic to wash the place. Some of our mothers prefer you sit in the water.

After delivery, it is advisable to avoid sitting on very soft surfaces. Also make it a habit to keep your legs as tightly as you can while seated as this will help in the tightening of the vaginal muscles. I don’t know if you have noticed this, but a lot of women have this unpleasant sound coming from the vaginal while they walk. This is because of poor post-natal care.

Coming to the issue of exercise, most women have come to ask how I was able to keep my body after four children. Eating the entire pounded yam and drinking all the pap believing you lose it all after the post-natal period is not all that easy. Exercise alone does not do it. You must have a good eating habit.

I believe you are the one to decide when to resume your regular work-out after delivery. Whatever the case, you can start with the little ones like the kegel squeeze, little walk in the evenings. Make sure you consult your doctor before resuming exercise. Remember, it took you 40 weeks to gain all the weight, don’t hope to lose it in two months. Losing weight that way can be detrimental to your health. Give yourself time for full recovery.

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