For months, you’re aware of every little change in your body and what it means. Your baby grows, and your body adapts. You learn what to expect.
After birth, we continue to care for you since we know that you’re focused on what’s important—being a new parent. If you’re having unusual aches, pains, or recovery symptoms our urogynocology team is here to help.
But do you know what to expect after your baby is born?
In the first few days, you may experience lochia—a bloody discharge heavier than your period that contains clots. This discharge becomes lighter over the next four to six weeks.
Abdominal cramps are common in the first week after delivery and may be stronger when you’re breastfeeding. Changing positions, emptying your bladder and taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help.
During delivery, your perineum—the region between your vagina and anus—takes a beating. It may be stretched and bruised. And if you tore, you will have stitches. You’ll probably be sore for a week or so. Stitches dissolve over the next few weeks, but the tenderness may last several weeks. Be gentle with yourself. After using the toilet, rinse your perineum with warm water. Warm sitz baths can help. If the pain, swelling or discharge increases, let us know.
If you had a Cesarean, your challenges will be different. The incision point will be painful at first, and you may require pain medication. Fever, increasing pain or drainage from your incision are signs that something is wrong, and you should let us know immediately.
Your first bowel movement after giving birth may be difficult. Eating whole grains and plenty of fruit will help, as will drinking plenty of water or fruit juice.
During pregnancy, your growing uterus adds pressure to the surrounding region, resulting in swollen blood vessels of the rectum —hemorrhoids. Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid getting them during pregnancy, they often show up after giving birth. Hemorrhoid pain can be treated with warm baths, creams such as Anusol® or Preparation H®, cold packs, and witch hazel pads.
If you had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, it’s generally safe to begin walking as soon as you feel up to it. If you had a C-section, don’t lift anything heavier than your baby and try to keep stair climbing to a minimum. Your doctor will let you know when you’re cleared for exercise.
Surround yourself with support in the days and weeks after birth, and don’t try to do everything yourself.
Be as gentle with yourself as you are with your newborn.