Uterus: After delivery, the uterus will begin to transform back to its pre-pregnant size and shape. During this process, the lining of the uterus is shed and a continuous flow of blood, known as lochia, will occur. Lochia will continue for approximately 3-6 weeks after you deliver. At first the blood will be bright red in color, then it will taper to a brown or pinkish color and finally change into a colorless discharge. Clots are common and may get worse with increased activity. Only use sanitary pads until your healthcare provider approves of tampon use. To encourage the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnant state, medical staff will massage the uterus. For some women, this can be painful. Afterbirth pains are common and tend to be worse for women that choose to breastfeed.
Abdomen: Contrary to what some believe, the abdomen will not shrink back to its pre-pregnan size immediately after delivery. About a week after delivery, most women will look 4 or 5 months pregnant. Any stretch marks that were gained during pregnancy are likely to be bright red after delivery, but will transform to a silverish color.
Cesarean Incision: The incision site will remain sore for several weeks as it heals. It will become less swollen, lighter and smaller. It is important to report any odor, increased pain or bleeding to your healthcare provider.
Hair: It is common to lose hair after the birth of your baby. Decreasing estrogen levels after delivery cause the hair to fall out. Some women even report large clumps of hair coming out at one time. The hair will be replaced with new hair and eventually, as hormone levels stabilize, the hair will stop coming out. Excess facial hair and body hair will stop after delivery, too.
Fatigue: It is common to feel overly tired for the first few weeks to months after delivery. Childbirth is a complex physical process that takes a toll on the body. Rest as much as possible and ask for help during these first few weeks. Consume adequate amounts of food and fluids to make sure your body has energy!
Skin: Because of the changes in hormone levels, the skin can be affected. Some women will notice an increase in breakouts and blemishes after the birth of their child, while others will notice that their skin becomes clearer. Dry skin is a common problem that a quality lotion can help with.
Breasts: During the first few weeks postpartum, the breasts will become engorged and they may become swollen or painful to touch. MIlk should have come in by the 5th day after delivery. Breastfeeding mothers may find that their nipples become cracked and painful. Lanolin cream will help with the pain of cracking and can be applied before and after nursing. If you choose to bottle feed, wear a snug fitting bra to prevent breast engorgement and avoid any type of stinulation to the breasts and nipples.
Perineum: Women that had a vaginal birth will have pain in the pernieal area for a few weeks after delivery. The pain is a direct result of tearing, an episiotomy with stitches or other trauma to the perineal area. Keep the area clean and take a sitz bath to releive the pain. The area may be swollen and it might hurt to sit down or urinate for a little while. There should not be any odor from the perineal site. If you notice a foul odor, call your healthcare provider.
Vagina: The vagina will probably never return to its normal state, but it can get close. Doing Kegel exercises can help restore muscle tone to the vagina. Vaginal dryness is a common complaint after delivery, which can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. This is a direct result of decreased estrogen production, but can be easily cured with the application of lubrication.
Hemorrhoids: If you developed hemorrhoids during pregnancy or from the pushing phase of labor, you can releive the pain with ice packs, hemorrhoid cream or Witch Hazel pads. Eat a fiber-rich diet to reduce the risk of condstipation. The hemorrhoids will shrink with time.
Night Sweats: Night sweats and day sweats for that matter, are very common after delivery. Excess fluids are built up in the body and are released through sweat. Wear comfortable clothes, but do not turn your thermostat down to the point in which your baby becomes uncomfortable.
Swelling & Varicose Veins: Swelling should ease up some after delivery, but do not expect it to all go away immediately. For some women, swelling can last for weeks. Drinking adequate amounts of liqids will encourage your body to urinate the excess fluids out. Varicose veins and spider veins that were developed during pregnancy may get better as you lose weight after delivery, but usually, they never fade completely.
Urination: The first few days after delivery, many women find it uncomfortable to urinate. If you were catheterized, you may feel a burning sensation when you urinate. Report any feelings of burning or pain to your healthcare provider to rule out a urinary tract infection. It may be more comfortable to urinate while in the shower or while using a sitz bath. Avoid holding your urine in if you have the urge to go. Doing so can lead to a bladder infection, making the problem worse.
Bowel Movements: It is not uncommon to go 3-4 after delivery without having a bowel movement and some women report that their first bowel movement after delivery was uncomfortable. To prevent constipation, do not hold back on the urge to go and eat a diet high in fiber. Speak to your doctor about taking a stool softener and drink adequate amounts of liquids.
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