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NR 327 Assignment 4 Care in the Postpartum Period


  1. Explain the physiologic changes that occur during the postpartum period.
  2. Describe nursing assessments and nursing care during the postpartum period.
  3. Discuss expected outcomes and interventions for common nursing diagnoses.
  4. Explain the nurse’s role in health education and identify critical teaching areas.
  5. Compare nursing assessments and care for women who have undergone cesarean and vaginal birth.


Physiologic Changes in the Postpartum Period: Understanding the Body’s Recovery

The postpartum period is critical for new mothers as their bodies undergo significant changes after childbirth. Recognizing and understanding these physiologic changes is essential to ensure proper care and support during this transitional phase. This article sheds light on the various transformations in the postpartum body. One of the primary changes during the postpartum period is uterine involution, which is the process of the uterus returning to its pre-pregnancy state. After birth, the uterus gradually contracts and shrinks to its original size. This involution is necessary to promote healing and prevent complications. Additionally, new mothers may experience afterpains and mild cramping sensations caused by uterine contractions during breastfeeding. These contractions aid in uterine involution and the expulsion of any remaining placental fragments.

NR 327 Assignment 4 Care in the Postpartum Period

Another significant change is the presence of lochia, the vaginal discharge after childbirth. Lochia consists of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue and provides valuable information about the progress of involution. In the early days, lochia appears bright red and may be heavier, gradually transitioning to a pinkish or brownish color and then to a yellowish-white discharge. Monitoring the characteristics of lochia is essential to ensure that involution is progressing normally. The postpartum period also changes the cervix, which may be flabby with small tears or lacerations. The cervix can also be edematous, causing some discomfort or swelling. Similarly, the vagina undergoes significant stretching during childbirth to accommodate the infant’s passage. However, it takes time for the vaginal mucosa and walls to regain their thickness, which usually occurs when estrogen production by the ovaries resumes.

The perineum, the area between the vagina and anus, also experiences changes during childbirth. It may become edematous and bruised due to stretching and pressure exerted during the second stage of labor. Lacerations or episiotomies (surgical incisions to widen the vaginal opening) may be necessary and can contribute to postpartum discomfort or pain. Proper perineal care and pain management are crucial during this period to promote healing and reduce discomfort. Pregnancy also affects the body’s ability to coagulate blood and form clots. The increase in coagulation during pregnancy is a protective mechanism against postpartum hemorrhage. However, after childbirth, the body gradually normalizes its coagulation process. This transition is essential to monitor to minimize the risk of excessive bleeding or clotting disorders.

NR 327 Assignment 4 Care in the Postpartum Period

Cardiovascular changes are another notable aspect of the postpartum period. The rise in cardiac output, caused by increased stroke volume during pregnancy, persists for about 48 hours after childbirth. However, most women’s cardiac output returns to pre-pregnancy levels within 6 to 12 weeks. The body also eliminates excess plasma volume accumulated during pregnancy through diuresis (increased urine production) and diaphoresis (increased sweating). Other systems in the body also change during the postpartum period. The white blood cell count increases during labor and the immediate postpartum period, aiding the body’s defense against infections. Hormonal fluctuations occur as the body adjusts to the cessation of pregnancy-related hormone production.

Urinary, gastrointestinal, skin, neurological, and endocrine changes are expected and vary from woman to woman. Nursing Care in the Postpartum Period: Observing for Hemorrhage and Assessing Patient Needs Nursing care involves vigilant observation for signs and symptoms of bleeding, a potentially severe complication. Assessing the urinary system consists in monitoring urinary output, assessing for bladder distention, and evaluating signs of urinary tract infection. Bladder distention can hinder uterine contraction and contribute to bleeding, so it is essential to ensure that the mother can empty her bladder adequately. Swelling or bruising around the urethra should be noted, as it may indicate trauma during childbirth. If a urinary catheter is in place, it should be assessed regularly to prevent infections.

NR 327 Assignment 4 Care in the Postpartum Period

Breast evaluation and assessment are significant for mothers who plan to breastfeed. Nurses should assess the breasts for engorgement, tenderness, or signs of mastitis (infection of the breast tissue). They should also provide guidance and support for proper positioning and latch-on techniques to facilitate successful breastfeeding. For mothers who choose not to breastfeed, education on suppressing lactation and alleviating discomfort should be provided.


In summary, nursing care in the postpartum period involves comprehensive assessments to monitor recovery progress and identify any complications. It includes evaluating uterine involution, observing changes in lochia, assessing the cervix, vagina, perineum, and breasts, monitoring vital signs, evaluating the urinary system, and providing guidance and support based on the mother’s feeding preferences. Through vigilant observation and proactive interventions, nurses play a crucial role in promoting the well-being of postpartum mothers.


Murray, S. S., & McKinney, E. S. (2014). Foundations of maternal-newborn and women’s health nursing. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier.

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