Recovery After Childbirth
Having a baby takes a toll on a woman's body. You have just been through nine months of bodily changes. Now that you have delivered your baby, your body will need to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. It can take anywhere from two to eight weeks for most mothers to feel completely recovered. If you had a cesarean section, you will likely experience a longer recovery time.
Vaginal Changes: After you deliver your baby, you will experience lochia for approximately 3-6 weeks. Lochia is your body's way of releasing the extra blood that your body produced during pregnancy. At first, the discharge will be bright red, heavy and might contain clots of varying sizes. It will gradually lighten and become pink and then turn a yellowish or creamy white color with no clots. During this time, only use pads for the discharge and do not insert anything into the vagina.
Pernineum Changes: Your perineum is located between the vagina and rectum and will most likely be sore for a week or two. If you tore or required an episiotomy during a vaginal delivery, the area will be more sensitive. Make sure to keep the stitches clean by squirting the area with a water bottle of warm water. Using witch hazel compresses or taking a sitz bath can help ease the swelling. An ice pad will also help during the first few days postpartum.
Breast Changes: During your pregnancy, your breasts prepare to nourish your baby. Hormones are released that tell your body to produce milk. Your breasts will likely feel full and tender. It is very common for a woman's nipples to become sore, sensitive and even cracked during this time. Wear a supportive bra, feed your baby often and use lanolin cream to help with nipple pain.
Abdominal Changes: Although the baby has come out of the uterus, it is still enlarged. Your uterus will shrink back to its pre-pregnant size approximately 4-6 weeks after delivery. You will probably experience some type of contracting sensations of the uterus as it goes back to the original size. These are called after-pains and should be tolerated with a mild pain reliever. If you had a cesarean delivery, recovery time will likely take longer. The incision will most likely heal within 3 weeks, but it is not uncommon for the site to remain sore for 1-2 months.
Bowel Changes: Most women will experience some form of constipation after the birth of their child. Constipation following childbirth is usually because of sluggish abdominal muscles and the use of some pain relievers and anesthesia. Many women are also aftaid that a bowel movement is going to hurt, so they refrain from going. It is best to take a stool softener and eat plenty of high-fiber foods and water to keep your bowels flowing.
Emotional Changes: Because of the drastic changes in hormones and lack of sleep, it is not uncommon to feel some changes emotionally. Approximately 50-75% of women will experience some type of "baby blues" or mild depression after the birth of the baby. Get some rest and seek support of a spouse, family member or friend during this time of change. You may cry for no reason, be irritable, impatient and restless. If you experience worsening depression or feel like you can not care for yourself or your baby, you should contact your healtcare provider immediately.
Trying to conceive
Pregnancy & Birth