Changes in your body after baby

KEY POINTS

  • Your body worked hard during pregnancy so it is normal to notice changes and discomforts in your body after your baby is born. 

  • You may notice changes like pain and soreness or changes in your skin and hair.  These are normal and there are things you can do to help with your discomforts. 

  • Talk to your provider about any discomforts and make sure to go to all your postpartum checkups.

Many things are happening in your body right after you have a baby. During pregnancy, your body changed a lot. It worked hard to keep your baby safe and healthy. Now that your baby is here, your body is changing again. Some of these changes are physical, like your breasts getting full of milk. Others are emotional, like feeling extra stress.
Many discomforts and body changes after giving birth are normal. But sometimes they’re signs or symptoms of a health problem that needs treatment. Go to all of your postpartum checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. At your checkups, your health care provider can help spot and treat health conditions.

What are afterbirth pains?


These are cramps that you feel as your uterus shrinks back to its normal size. Right after you give birth, your uterus is round and hard and weighs about 2 ½  pounds.  By about 6 weeks after birth, it weighs only 2 ounces. The cramps should go away in a few days.

Ask your provider about medicine you can take for pain.

What is perineum soreness?


The perineum is the area between your vagina and rectum. It stretches during labor and vaginal birth, and it may even tear. It often is sore after you give birth. You may be more sore if you had a cut made at the opening of the vagina to help the baby out.

Things you can do for perineum soreness are:

  • Do Kegel exercises. These make the muscles in your pelvic area stronger which helps the perineum heal. Squeeze the muscles that you use to stop yourself from urinating. Hold the muscles tight for 10 seconds and then release. Do this 10 to 20 times in a row at least three times a day.
  • Put a cold pack on your perineum. Or use ice wrapped in a towel.
  • Sit on a pillow.
  • Soak in a warm bath.
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom. This can help prevent infection as you heal.
  • Ask your provider about medicine to help ease the pain.

What happens to my body after a c-section?


A c-section is major surgery, so it may take some time for you to recover. You may be sore and tired after a c-section.

Things you can do while you recover are:

  • Keep your baby with you in your hospital room so you don’t have to move around a lot to get her.
  • Only take pain medicine that your health care provider says you can take. She can make sure it’s safe for your baby during breastfeeding.
  • Ask your partner, family and friends for help with the baby and around your home.

Will I notice changes in vaginal discharge?


After your baby is born, your body gets rid of the blood and tissue that was inside the uterus. This is called vaginal discharge or lochia. For the first few days, it’s heavy, bright red and may contain some blood clots. Over time, the flow gets less and lighter in color. You may have discharge for a few weeks, or even for a month or more.

Use sanitary pads until the vaginal discharge goes away.

What is breast engorgement?


This is when your breasts swell as they fill with milk. They may feel tender and sore. Most of the time the discomfort goes away once you start breastfeeding.

To help with discomfort of breast engorgement you can:

  • Try not to miss a feeding or go a long time between feedings. Don’t skip night feedings.
  • Remove a small amount of milk with a breast pump or by hand before breastfeeding.
  • Take a warm shower or lay warm towels on your breasts. If your engorgement is really painful, put cold packs on your breasts.
  • Tell your provider if your breasts stay swollen.

Will I experience nipple pain?


Many women have cracked, sore or painful nipples when they first start breastfeeding.

To help with nipple pain, you can:

  • Change the position you use to breastfeed.
  • Make sure your baby is fully latched on. If she’s not, remove her from your breast and try again.
  • After feeding, put some fresh breast milk on your nipples. Or ask your provider about a cream you can use.
  • Talk to your provider or lactation consultant if the pain doesn’t go away.

Will I experience swelling?


Lots of women have swelling in their hands, feet and face during pregnancy. It’s caused by extra fluids in your body that helped you get ready for labor and birth. It may take time for the swelling to go away after you have your baby.

Things you can do include:

  • Lie on your left side or put your feet up.
  • Try to stay cool and wear loose clothes.

What are hemorrhoids?


Hemorrhoids are painful, swollen veins in and around the anus. Lots of women get them during pregnancy. They may get worse after giving birth.

Things you can do to help include:

  • Soak in a warm bath.
  • Use an over-the-counter spray or cream to help relieve pain. Ask your provider which ones are OK to use.
  • Eat foods that are high in fiber, like fruits, vegetables and whole-grain breads and cereals.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Try not to strain when you’re having a bowel movement (pooping).

Will I experience constipation?


You may have painful gas or trouble having a bowel movement after you give birth.

To help with constipation you can:

  • Eat foods that are high in fiber.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Ask your provider about medicine to take.

Will I experience urinary problems?


You may feel pain or burning when you urinate (pee). Or you may try to urinate but find that you can’t.  Sometimes you may not be able to stop urinating. This is called incontinence.

What you can do for pain, burning or if you have trouble urinating:

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Run water in the sink when you go to the bathroom.
  • Soak in a warm bath.
  • If the pain continues, tell your provider.

What you can do for incontinence:

  • Do Kegel exercises to make your pelvic muscles stronger.


Will I have more sweating?


This happens a lot to new moms, often at night. It’s caused by all the hormones in your body after pregnancy.

To help with sweating you can:

  • Sleep on a towel to help keep your sheets and pillow dry.
  • Don’t use too many blankets or wear warm clothes to bed.

Will I feel more tired?  


You may have lost blood during labor and birth. And your baby probably doesn’t let you sleep all night. These things can make you feel really tired.

What you can do:

  • Sleep when your baby sleeps, even when he naps during the day.
  • Eat healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and pasta, lean meat and chicken and low-fat dairy products. Limit sweets and foods with a lot of fat.
  • Ask your partner, family and friends for help with the baby and around the house.

When will I get my period again?


If you’re not breastfeeding, your period may start again 6 to 8 weeks after giving birth. If you are breastfeeding, you may not get your period again for months. Some women don’t have a period again until they stop breastfeeding. Be careful — if you have sex, you can get pregnant even before your period starts again, breastfeeding or not.

Will there be changes in my weight?


Now’s a great time to get to a healthy weight, no matter how much you weighed before you got pregnant. When you’re at a healthy weight, you may feel better and have more energy. You’re also less likely to have health conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure. And if you get pregnant again, you’ll be at a healthy weight before your next pregnancy.

What you can do:

  • Talk to your provider about a healthy weight for you.
  • Eat healthy foods. Limit sweets and foods with a lot of fat.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Do something active every day. Walking and swimming are great activities for new moms.
  • Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding helps you burn calories. This can help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy faster than if you don’t breastfeed.
  • Don’t feel badly if you don’t lose pregnancy weight as quickly as you’d like. It takes time for your body to get back into shape.

How will my skin change?


You may have stretch marks on your belly, thighs, breasts and bottom where your skin stretched during pregnancy.

What you can do:

  • Use creams or lotions on your skin.
  • Ask your provider what to use.

How will my hair change?


Your hair may have seemed thicker and fuller during pregnancy. After your baby is born, your hair may thin out. You may even lose hair. Hair loss usually stops about 3 to 4 months after your baby’s birth.

Some things you can do to help with you hair are:

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. These may make your hair stronger and help it grow.
  • Be gentle with your hair. Don’t wear tight ponytails, braids or rollers. These can pull and stress your hair.
  • Use the cool setting on your hair dryer

 

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