Changes to Your Body After Birth
- After your baby is born you may feel painful contractions as your uterus goes back to its normal size. This is normal. Your health care provider will check to make sure that this is happening. You may feel these pains the most when you breastfeed because your baby’s sucking helps your uterus return to its normal size. Afterpains usually go away after a week. Call your health care provider if the afterpains do not go away or if they are very painful.
Bleeding from your Vagina
- You will have to bleed from your vagina for 2 to 6 weeks. At first, the bleeding will be heavy and dark red. In a few days, the bleeding will slow down. The color will change to brown, pink, and then to white. It is important to keep this area clean and to change your pad often. Do not use a tampon during this time. Call your health care provider if your flow is heavier than normal, is heavier than a period, smells bad, or has large clots.
- The area between your legs may be sore or swollen. If you had stitches you may feel more pain. Try freezing a damp maxi pad and putting it in your underwear. Try sitting in a warm bath. Also, keep the area very clean by pouring warm water on the area between your legs after you pass urine or have a bowel movement. You should also do the Kegel exercises (see page 36) you learned when you were pregnant. Call your health care provider if the stitches open or if you notice smelly fluid.
- You may find it hard to have a bowel movement after your baby is born. Eat foods high in fiber and drink lots of fluids to make the bowel movement softer and easier to pass. Call your healthcare provider if you are constipated for more than 3 days.
- Your breasts will get firmer and bigger. Your breastmilk will be yellow at first (colostrum). Colostrum provides everything your baby needs.
- Women can get hemorrhoids during pregnancy and after they have a baby. Eat foods high in fiber and drink lots of fluids to keep the bowel movement soft and easy to pass. Ask your health care provider about medicines that may help.
Hard to Pass Urine
- You may find it hard to pass urine for a couple of days after your baby is born. Drink lots of fluids and remind yourself to go to the toilet even if you do not feel like you have to go. If it burns or hurts when you pass urine or you really cannot pee, talk to your healthcare provider.
Getting your Period
- Many breastfeeding mothers find that their period does not come back until they begin giving their baby solid foods at 6 months. Some mothers find that their period does not return until after they stop breastfeeding. Mothers who do not breastfeed usually find that their period starts within 2 months after giving birth.
- It is safe to have sex when you feel ready. This can be after the bleeding from your vagina has stopped and the area between your legs has healed (tears or stitches have healed). The best thing is to talk to your partner about how you are feeling and what you would like. Choose activities that please both of you.
- You need to see your healthcare provider 6 weeks after your baby is born for your check-up. Ask about birth control methods. If you are breastfeeding be sure to let your healthcare provider know because some birth control methods can affect breastfeeding.
Postnatal Physical Activity
- Taking care of yourself helps you to take care of your baby. Being active after your baby is born will improve your blood flow and make you stronger. Ask your health care provider or public health nurse about activities to do after having your baby. If You had a Caesarean Birth If you had a cesarean birth, you will need to take extra care and will need extra rest. Ask for help. Talk to your healthcare provider.