Recovering From Birth: What to Expect
Along with the feelings of joy when your baby arrives, come other feelings – of being uncomfortable, sore, exhausted, and emotionally drained.
POSTNATAL HEALTH: Having a baby is a wonderful and exciting time. Along with the feelings of joy once your baby arrives, come other feelings – mostly feelings of being uncomfortable, sore, exhausted, and emotionally drained.
Hundreds of thoughts are running through your mind, including ‘is this normal?’. To help you navigate this unfamiliar territory, below are some of the most common issues women face while recovering from giving birth.
How will I feel?
Sore breasts are one of the most noted complaints. This is due to the fact that your breasts will engorge for a number of days while your milk supply comes in. Your nipples may also be quite sore and may leak. If you are breastfeeding and find it painful, speak to your midwife, public health nurse or a lactation consultant to ensure your baby is latching on correctly.
“Along with the feelings of joy once your baby arrives, come other feelings – mostly feelings of being uncomfortable, sore, and emotionally drained”
If you had stitches or if your perineum (the skin that is located between the anus and the vagina) tears during the birth process, it may be painful to walk or sit while your stitches are healing. It may also be quite uncomfortable when you sneeze, cough or have a bowel movement during this time as well.
There is also the issue of haemorrhoids to contend with. Yes, you most likely had them during your pregnancy – but surprise, they are still here, or even return following labour and delivery.
In addition to the haemorrhoids, it is also quite common to experience some constipation. It can easily be three or more days following delivery before you are able to have a normal bowel movement. Don’t be concerned if it feels strange as well – sore muscles and a healing perineum may cause a bit of discomfort.
“There is also the issue of haemorrhoids to contend with. Yes, you had them during pregnancy – but surprise, they are still here”
After pains are another issue many women face. Following labour and birth, your uterus continues to contract for at least a few days, causing discomfort. You may notice these pains more when nursing your baby due to the surge in the hormone oxytocin, and moms often comment that the after pains are more noticeable with their subsequent children.
You may have experienced cold or hot flushes when you were pregnant, and you will find they are still there afterward. This is your body adjusting to the new hormone levels and blood flow, and your body’s thermostat will adjust with time.
Vaginal discharge, also known as lochia, is something else the postpartum period brings. This will be heavier than your period flow, may contain small clots, and will gradually taper off over the course of several weeks, while fading in color to yellow or white before stopping completely. If you are concerned about the blood loss, speak to your doctor, midwife or public health nurse.
No woman wants to talk about it, but urinary and faecal incontinence is not uncommon after giving birth. Your muscles stretch a great deal during delivery, which can cause you to pass a bit of urine or stool inadvertently when laughing, coughing, or otherwise straining. If your labour was prolonged, this is more likely to occur.
Finally, there is the issue of your weight. While it is true you will immediately lose about 12 pounds – accounting for the weight of the baby, the placenta, and the amniotic fluid – it will take time for your body to return to its pre-pregnancy state.
“No woman wants to talk about it, but urinary and faecal incontinence is not uncommon after giving birth”
Remember, it took nine months for you to grow and change in the way that you did, and you will not be able to reverse all of those changes overnight. Don’t be too hard on yourself, take it as easy as possible and just enjoy all those newborn cuddles with your beautiful new baby.
This article has been sponsored by the JOHNSON’S® brand.