Real Talk: What to Expect After Giving Birth

November 8, 2018   Pregnancy & Postpartum

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You did it! You’ve spent months nurturing the tiny human growing inside your womb—and now it’s time! The clothes are washed and ready, the baby room is painted and decorated, and you’ve secured enough help to get you through the first couple of weeks. Now it’s time to prepare yourself for the normal physical side effects that you could experience after the baby is born.

We focus so much on the growing part that we sometimes overlook the changes a woman’s body endures after the baby is born. Let’s explore the common—and normal—challenges the body experiences and how you can manage those challenges as you adjust to your new life as a mom.

Continued bleeding

It is common to experience bleeding for up to 6 weeks after birth. This is not your menstrual cycle; in fact, it’s increased bleeding—in the days post-delivery it is likely you will pass blood clots. It’s important to monitor the size and frequency of the clots. For most moms, maxi pads provide enough protection to manage the bleeding. If the clots are bigger than a grapefruit or you are experiencing an excessive amount of blood loss, we recommend calling your provider or going to your closest emergency room.

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Difficult first bowel movement

After vaginally delivering your baby, your first bowel movement can be difficult and uncomfortable. Your bowels can be slow moving due to the stretched muscles and a general soreness. The good news is that there are things you can do to ease the first movement, such as eating high-fiber foods like prunes and dates or taking a stool softener or laxative.

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Possible stitches

While doctors will do everything they can to avoid using stitches, sometimes they are necessary. Minor vaginal tearing is common during birth. If you have an epidural, there is a good chance you won’t feel the stitches. If you’ve opted to have a natural birth, doctors will often numb the area before administering the stitches. These stitches should dissolve within 2-3 weeks. We recommend using a donut-shaped cushion and taking warm baths to ease discomfort.

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Swelling down under

Swelling and soreness are some of the most common side effects of vaginal delivery. Childbirth puts a significant strain on your vaginal tissue. The tissue has an excess of blood flow that often causes swelling. Simple steps such as using an ice pack on the area and sitz baths (in which you sit in water up to your hips) can reduce pain and swelling. This discomfort normally subsides between 4- and 6-weeks postpartum.

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Trouble regulating temperature

Let’s talk night sweats. You may experience excessive sweating in the weeks after delivering your baby. This is completely normal! Your body is experiencing a hormone level drop that often causes the body to have a difficult time regulating temperature. Not to worry; this will go back to normal as your hormone levels regulate.

Remember, all of these side effects are temporary and will subside in time. If you experience anything that you think is out of the ordinary, do not hesitate to contact your provider. In the end, as you watch your child grow and develop into their personality, every moment of hardship will be worth it.

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Kristin Yates, DO

There are so many physical, emotional and social changes in the immediate postpartum period. Never hesitate to call your obstetrician with questions or concerns. That’s why we’re here!

— Kristin Yates, D.O.

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