By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C
Motherhood is not only an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual feat — it is a physical one as well.
Whether birth is achieved via vaginal delivery or cesarean section, the postnatal recovery period can often be prolonged, dragging into the next three months, which are known as the “fourth trimester.”
But, fear not, moms around the world! There are little secrets hidden at your local pharmacy that can help you weather this period and put yourselves back together, piece by piece. Read on to learn the top post-baby pharmacy tips.
If nipple pain is interfering with your ability to breastfeed your baby, the situation can quickly begin to feel desperate. Breast milk, itself, has been recommended by experts to reduce nipple pain via direct application to the nipples after breastfeeding. However, research shows that a topical medication known as Lanolin is superior to breast milk in reducing nipple pain associated with breastfeeding trauma. You can pick up a tube of Lanolin at your local pharmacy without a prescription.
It may not seem like much to an outsider, but after 40 weeks of managing general pregnancy aches and pains (and, often, headaches), without the ability to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), it can be extremely exciting to welcome ibuprofen back into your life. Ibuprofen and Naproxen are both safe to take while you are breastfeeding (though neither is safe to give directly to a newborn), so if you are experiencing soreness of any variety, make sure to hit the pharmacy to stock up.
A cesarean section can be especially traumatic, especially if you were not planning to endure one when you initially went into labor. Most cesarean section scars sit low on the abdomen, so are barely perceptible, but a scar is a scar, nonetheless. To help reduce to the visibility of your surgical scar, try a specific medicated gel, like Mederma.
If you tore vaginally during delivery or had to have an episiotomy, you will be especially sore and uncomfortable in the perineal region. You can use a numbing spray, such as Dermoplast, to help make this area more comfortable while it heals. Sitting in a cold sitz bath can help soothe the area as well, especially if you are experiencing itching and irritation from stitches—you can pick a sitz bath up at your local pharmacy.
All of that determined pushing comes at a cost. If you are noticing bits of blood on the toilet paper when you wipe after a bowel movement, or tender, burning, or itchy areas around your anus, you are likely suffering from postpartum hemorrhoids. Try adding a stool softener, such as Colace, to reduce your straining with bowel movements. A topical medication, such as Anusol, can be therapeutic as well. Both of these handy remedies are available over the counter.
An estimated 60 to 80 percent of new mothers suffer from some degree of low mood following childbirth, as the hormones that were boosting and supporting a pregnancy for the previous 40 weeks all come crashing down in one giant nosedive. Sleep deprivation doesn’t help, either. The good news is that these feelings of postpartum blues normally pass with time, social support, and education.
However, up to 20 percent of women will experience mood changes that do not pass on their own and begin to affect their ability to interact with their newborn and others. This is known as postpartum depression. If this sounds familiar, you are absolutely not alone, and it is not your fault.
Your OB provider, or a mental health professional, can help you get back to feeling more like yourself. Prescription medications are commonly prescribed during this period to help with mood, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs.) If you are prescribed a medicine for postpartum depression, make sure to use a ScriptSave® WellRx savings card to find the lowest price.
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Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.