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What to Expect the First Few Days After Giving Birth

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Your baby is finally here! You’re excited for the new addition to the family and can’t wait to start the next chapter of your life as a new mom. But, wait, nobody said you would be feelings this exhausted and perhaps emotionally out of whack. Don’t worry, all of these changes are normal!

In this Baby Care Weekly article, we’ll help you know the different physical and emotional changes you go through during the first few weeks after giving birth to your baby.

Physical Changes

Expect a lot of changes to happen to your body especially during the first few weeks following delivery. The following are some common physical changes and tips for managing any pain and discomfort that may accompany them:

Breast soreness

Your breasts will start to look full and swollen as they begin to fill with milk. They may feel painfully engorged for several days and your nipples will also feel sensitive and sore. The pain will usually go away when you begin breastfeeding your newborn.

Here’s a useful infographic with tips on how to treat breast engorgement:

Contractions

Your uterus will be experiencing contractions (also known as afterpains) in the few days after you give birth. You might notice painful sensations whenever your breastfeed your baby similar to menstrual cramps. These contractions are your body’s way of preventing excessive bleeding by compressing blood vessels in your uterus.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your contractions are particularly painful. He may prescribe medication to help you manage pain.
  • You have a fever or your abdomen feels extra sensitive and tender. This could be signs of a uterine infection.

Constipation

Your first bowel movement may occur a few days after delivery. It may be extra painful or difficult especially with your sore muscles, healing episotomies and possible hemorrhoids.

Follow these tips for treating constipation:

  • Eat fiber-rich foods like broccoli, all bran cereal, lima beans, strawberries, raspberries and dry oats.
  • Drink enough water every day.

Contact your healthcare provider if your bowel movement does not improve after several days or if you need medication.

Vaginal soreness

If you had a vaginal tear or an episiotomy when you gave birth, you’ll experience pain in the wounded area for a couple of weeks. Your body will naturally heal and the pain will gradually go away when this happens. Until this happens, though, you may feel pain and discomfort when you sit, walk, sneeze or cough.

Here are some ways to help you manage pain:

  • Slowly pour warm water over your vulva when urinating to relieve pain
  • During a bowel movement, gently press a clean washcloth against the wound
  • Gently press an ice pack on the wound
  • Sit on a soft pillow
  • Ask your doctor for medication for pain relief or for help with bowel movement

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • The pain intensifies or does not go away after several weeks
  • The wound looks irritated, swollen or has a pus-like discharge

Vaginal discharge

Expect to have vaginal discharge or lochia in the first few weeks after giving birth. The flow will be heavier than your usual period and may have clots. On the first couple of days expect the discharge to be bright red and heavy but it will gradually lighten as the weeks go by, changing in color from red or brown to yellow or white.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a a fever of 38C or higher
  • The discharge has a foul odor
  • The flow becomes extremely heavy

Hemorrhoids

You may have hemorrhoids if you experience when moving your bowels or notice swelling in the area near your anus. Applying chilled with hazel pads on the affected area can be a remedy for hemorrhoids. Your doctor may also prescribe a topical treatment or medication.

Weight loss

After giving birth, many women lose 10 pounds which includes your baby’s weight, placenta and amniotic fluid. Expect additional weight loss in the coming days as your body loses additional fluids.

Don’t worry if you feel out of shape during this time because your body is still recovering. With a healthy diet and light exercise you’ll be able to get back in shape.

Emotional Changes

What to Expect the First Few Days After Giving Birth | Baby Care Weekly

image via mass.gov

The first few weeks following childbirth can feel like an emotional roller coaster especially for first time moms. You may experience the following:

Mood Changes

Giving birth is a major life experience that can trigger many powerful emotions, some of these emotions may not be so pleasant. You might find yourself feeling irritable, moody, sad and anxious. Some first time moms also experience a mild depression known as baby blues. These feelings are normal and will usually subside as you ease your way into this new chapter in your life.

Here are some tips to help you manage stress and the baby blues:

  • Communicate your needs and concerns with your partner
  • Surround yourself with a support group that can help you in different ways (be it for emotional support or with chores at home)
  • Connect with fellow moms who can give you support, advice and encouragement

Contact your healthcare provider if you feel extremely depressed or hopeless.

Postpartum Depression

An estimated 10% to 15% of new moms experience postpartum depression (PPD). This condition is more serious and more long lasting than the baby blues.

PPD can be diagnosed up to a year after childbirth. Some women have a higher risk of having PPD. These risk factors include:

  • Being younger than 20 years old
  • Having major depression or other mood disorders in the past
  • Having a family history of depression
  • Experiencing highly stressful events in your life

Symptoms of PPD include the following:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Inability or problems bonding with your baby
  • Avoiding or withdrawing from your social circle like family and friends
  • Disrupted sleeping habits (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Extreme fatigue or loss of energy
  • Extreme anxiety or panic attacks
  • Difficulty thinking, focusing or making decisions
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • Intense anger
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame or guilt

PPD needs to be Contact your healthcare provider if you feel that you may have PPD.

Childbirth is a wonderful, life-changing experience filled with many new changes. Some of these changes may seem overwhelming to you and your partner especially if you are a first time mom or dad. Embrace all the changes taking place and take comfort in the fact that help is available when you need it.