After weeks of waiting, planning, and choosing baby names, your baby is finally ready to make his or her entrance into the world. While you’re super excited to hold your baby in your arms for the first time, you probably have a lot of questions about childbirth, too. Your doctors and nurses will be there for you every step of the way during labor and delivery, but, oftentimes, mothers are not prepared for what may happen to their bodies after they give birth. So, we’ve compiled a list of changes you might notice following your delivery. Keep in mind: all these postpartum instances are totally normal, so go easy on your body, and don’t be afraid to reach out to a medical professional for help.
When giving birth, mothers often need an episiotomy, which is when your perineum (the space between your vagina and anus) is surgically cut to facilitate the baby’s delivery. Your nurses will sew up your cut with dissolvable stitches afterwards. Recovering from an episiotomy can take two to three weeks and can be uncomfortable, especially when you have to use the bathroom. Talk to doctors about any safe painkillers you can take along with how to keep your cut clean while it is healing.
Your first bathroom trip
Speaking of which, the first time you go to the bathroom after you give birth may be difficult. This is because your abdominal muscles have weakened, and all your organs are rearranging themselves back to where they were before you were pregnant. You may find it difficult to urinate, or you may find that you can’t seem to stop urinating. You may not have your first bowel movement until a few days later, or it may happen right away. When you do go, it could be difficult, but no need to worry! Drink plenty of water, eat high-fiber foods, and don’t strain when you try to go. It also helps to do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
Postpartum hair loss
This happens two-four months postpartum due to your declining levels of estrogen. No need to panic! Most women can grow their hair back by the time their baby turns one year old. Until then, you can treat your hair loss with shampoos and conditioners that treat fine hair. If you do not think you have regained your hair, talk to a dermatologist about any underlying issues that may be causing your hair loss.
When a milk duct becomes clogged, or when bacteria enters the breast of a breast-feeding mother, mastitis occurs. Symptoms of mastitis include swelling, warmth, and pain of the breast along with fever and chills. This can be treated with antibiotics and usually goes away within a few days. Don’t stop breastfeeding, though, as immediately weaning your baby from the infected breast will worsen your condition. It helps to keep the milk flowing to prevent clogging the milk duct even more.
Did you know your baby is drinking a different type of breastmilk the first time you feed them? Before your milk comes in, your baby is actually drinking something called colostrum, which is a thicker milk that is yellowish in color and has lots of nutrients. Your breasts will start producing the second type of milk about three-five days after delivery. Breast-milk production starts randomly–you may wake up one morning feeling engorged or like something heavy is sitting on your chest. The first time you breastfeed your newborn is a learning experience for the both of you, as you need to teach your baby how to feed while finding out which positions are most comfortable for you.
“Lochia” is the term for the vaginal discharge that is common after vaginal birth. It typically is dark red in color the first three days after you give birth and will come with small blood clots. Between the fourth and the fourteenth day, your lochia should transition from a pinkish to a yellowish color, and it should completely stop within four to six weeks after delivery. Lochia can increase when you’re breastfeeding, being physically active, or waking up in the mornings.
Moms can also experience cramps after they give birth. These cramps happen because the mother’s uterus is contracting back to the size it was before pregnancy. They can get stronger after having your second or third child as opposed to your first child.
Your perineum is that area of skin between the vagina and the anus that sometimes rips while you’re giving birth. Along with requiring stitches if it does rip, it can also be sore for the first day after delivery. You can treat the soreness by doing pelvic floor exercises, applying ice to reduce the swelling, and wearing compression underwear.
“Baby blues” describes a brief period of sadness and mood swings a mother may feel after she gives birth. In fact, about 80 percent of mothers feel the baby blues for up to two weeks after delivery. These emotions are completely normal because all those pregnancy hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, are decreasing sharply and causing those mood swings. Baby blues are separate from postpartum depression, which is more severe and lasts longer. If your baby blues lasts for longer than two weeks, seek help from your doctor.
Hormonal fluctuations are the culprit of night sweats, which are a completely normal occurrence after you give birth. As your body gets rid of the extra fluids you no longer need in your body, the sweating will start to decrease.
The best part?
Having several full-course meals after delivery, of course! When you’re in labor, you can’t eat anything until after you have given birth, so you’ll definitely be hungry once your baby is born. Make sure you have some meals prepared to eat when you get home, though, so you don’t have to cook dinner if you do not want to.
Things you need at home for baby: