Your body might feel quite unfamiliar for a while after you have given birth – it needs time to rest and heal from pregnancy and birth and that can take a few months. Every woman is different – some women bounce back after pregnancy and birth while others need longer to feel well and back to normal again.
THE FIRST WEEK…
You may look like you are 4-5 months pregnant for a few weeks because your stomach muscles will stay soft for a while.
You will experience lochia – bloodloss – which will be like a heavy, clotty period. You will need to change your maternity pads very regularly throughout the day. This can be heavy for the first couple of weeks before it becomes more like a normal period. Clots probably won’t be any bigger than a 50p and there shouldn’t be an odour. If you are unsure about anything, you can check with your midwife and your GP. It can last for up to 6 weeks.
If you have given birth vaginally, you will most probably feel stretched and out of shape. Even if you haven’t needed any stitches, you may have experienced some small tears and you will probably feel tender and sore.
Your milk will probably come in at about day 3 after giving birth so your boobs might feel full and a bit sore if you are engorged – you can feed your baby to ease this, as well as hand express to help with any pressure.
You will probably wee a lot and you might be a bit sweaty as your body gets rid of the extra fluid that was needed in pregnancy.
If you have had stitches, you might be nervous about having a wee incase it stings. – wee in the shower, in the bath, pour water over yourself as you wee on the loo to prevent stinging. Make sure you are also drinking plenty of water. Stitches in the perineum will dissolve so you might experience some itching when this happens.
If you have had a Caesarean, your external stitches could dissolve or they may need to be removed by your community midwife about a week after giving birth.
It can be quite normal to be constipated and there can be a fear of pushing if you have any stitches – try to relax, drink plenty of water and your midwife can give you a mild laxative to help.
You may experience afterpains – which is your uterus shrinking back down to the size of a fist. These can be quite sharp, especially if this is not your first baby, and you can feel them when you breastfeed because this creates oxytocin to shrink your uterus. You can take paracetamol to manage the discomfort.
You might have piles – these may have developed in pregnancy or during birth. They usually clear up on their own but tell your midwife who may recommend some treatment.
BY 6 WEEKS…
You will probably have stopped bleeding by 6 weeks – if you are still experiencing some bleeding, your GP will ask about that during your 6 week check.
If you have had a Caesarean, your wound will probably have healed by now. If you have experienced any infection, it might take longer to heal.
If you lost blood during the birth of your baby, you may still feel tired and run-down.
Your stomach muscles might still feel soft.
You might be starting to feel more like you again now, with your body becoming more familiar.
Some women start to lose their hair – chances are this is because you had thicker hair during pregnancy.
It is possible for your period to return after about 6-8 weeks, especially if you are not breastfeeding.
You will probably have your GP check between 6-8 weeks after the birth of your baby – this is a chance to check that your body is healing and to check that you are doing well. It is also an opportunity to talk about contraception.
BY 3 MONTHS…
You might be feeling much more like you again.
You might still be losing hair – that can happen for a few months as your hormone levels change after pregnancy.
If you are doing your pelvic floor exercises, you are probably feeling stronger and less likely to wee yourself when you sneeze!
You might want to get back into exercise now – even if you are in good shape, this is still a time to exercise gently. Pregnancy hormones mean your joints and ligaments can still be loose and injuries can happen more easily for up 6 months after birth. Walking, postnatal yoga, Buggyfit, postnatal pilates and postnatal aerobics all make great exercise – if you are going to a class, make sure they are qualified to teach postnatal sessions.
Your stretchmarks will be starting to fade now – it can take several months for them to look less angry.
Eat as well as possible
Drink plenty of water
Rest as much as possible
Listen to your body
Get support if you are unsure about anything – check with your midwife, your GP or your health visitor
Give your body the time it needs to heal
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