Giving birth is an overwhelming experience and an amazing achievement, and you’ll respond in your own way when you meet your baby for the first time.
Depending on how the birth went, you may feel bruised, exhausted, and disappointed. Or you may feel alert, happy and relaxed.
If you had a tear or cut to the area between your vagina and anus (perineum), you’ll be sore.
If you’ve given birth by cesarean, you won’t be able to drive or carry heavy items or move around easily, but you should take moderate pain relief to ease your discomfort.
You can take pain analgesia to reduce any pain and swelling. If you had a perineum tear, small should heal quickly.Stitches may be painful for a few days or even weeks.
If you had an episiotomy or more severe tear (third-degree or fourth-degree tear), it will take longer to heal. depending on severity, Applying a cold compress or pack to your perineum will also help to ease aches and pains. You can make your own cold pack by leaving maternity pads in the freezer before you use them. It’s normal to feel bruised and washed out after having your baby.
Be kind to yourself and your body, and allow yourself time to get your strength back. With plenty of rest and support, you should recover quickly.
Your body has spent months nurturing and growing your baby. Now, all the changes that helped to bring your baby into the world go into reverse.
You will have some bloody discharge, called lochia. This is the vaginal discharge after giving birth, containing blood, mucus, and uterine tissue. . The lochia is red at first, then brownish, and finally yellowish. For about 10 days it will be like a heavy period. It can take up to six weeks to tail off. The more you rest, the lighter the lochia will be.
Afterpains feel like mild labour contractions and often happen while you are breastfeeding.
This is because the hormone oxytocin, which encourages your womb to contract, is released while you’re breastfeeding.
If you need pain relief for afterpains, ibuprofen works better than paracetamol. Ibuprofen is safe to take while you’re breastfeeding but make sure to check with the doctor.
Your pelvic floor, though stretched, should firm up, as long as you do your pelvic floor exercises (Kegels).
You can start doing the exercises as soon as possible after your baby’s birth.
Exercising your pelvic floor helps to reduce swelling and speed up healing around your perineum. The exercises also protect you against leaking wee (stress incontinence), which affects many new mums.
Exercising your pelvic floor will also tone up your vagina, and make sex more satisfying – when you’re ready to go there again!.
Pelvic Floor exercise
You can do these exercises lying down, sitting or standing. With practice, they can be done anywhere and at any time:
If you’re worried about how you are healing or feeling pain seek medical advice. It’s important to keep breathing normally while you do these exercises. Make sure you don’t pull in your stomach when you squeeze.
After birth, your breasts will be fairly soft, as they contain colostrum, the first milk your body makes for your baby. A little colostrum goes a long way because it’s protein-rich and creamy. It’s also full of antibodies that help to protect your baby from infection.
After a few days, your breasts will begin to make milk and may feel swollen and tender. It’s your body’s way of making sure there’s plenty of milk for your newborn. Any engorgement will ease as your baby feeds and your breasts adjust to her needs.
At first, your nipples may feel sensitive, with the first 10 or so seconds of each feed feeling uncomfortable.
This usually eases after a few days as your nipples adjust. If it doesn’t, ask a midwife to check how well your baby is latching on to your breast. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, ask your midwife to refer you to a lactation consultant. If you choose to bottle feed, you still have to keep on eye on how your breast feels to avoid problems like-engorgement,block duct or a very painful mastitis.
When you’re feeling tired, being active may seem like the last thing you want to do.
But regular activity can relax you, keep you fit and help you feel more energetic.
It can also help your body recover after childbirth and may help prevent postnatal depression.
Don’t be disappointed if your body doesn’t snap back to its pre-pregnancy shape soon after you’ve had your baby. Your body has been through the major process of pregnancy and labour, and will need time to recover. If you had a straightforward birth, you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel up to it. This could include walking, gentle stretches, pelvic floor, and tummy exercises.
It’s usually a good idea to wait until after your 6-week postnatal check before you start any high-impact exercise, such as aerobics or running.
If you exercised regularly before giving birth and you feel fit and well, you may be able to start earlier.
If you had a more complicated delivery or a caesarean, your recovery time will be longer. Seek medical advice if unsure.
The extra fat your body stored in pregnancy is used as energy to help with breastfeeding. Although breastfeeding can help you to lose weight, especially if you breastfeed for six months or more, much of your weight loss also depends on your diet and how active you are every day.
It’s normal for your tummy to be a bit flabby and wrinkly after birth. But there are things you can do to help. Remember, It took you nine months of pregnancy to get to where you are, so your body will need about the same amount of time to recover
Exercise ideas for new mums
Build activity into your day. Use the stairs instead of the lift or, for short journeys, walk instead of taking the car.
You should be offered a postnatal check-up with your doctor about six weeks after you’ve had your baby.
Some surgeries combine this check-up with an appointment for your baby’s first vaccinations at about eight weeks. If you don’t feel this allows enough time for you to talk to your doctor, make another appointment.
You can talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling physically and emotionally. If you have any problems, such as anxiety, soreness from stitches, or ongoing stress incontinence, don’t suffer in silence. Ask your doctor for help.
You’ll give your baby the best start in life if you breastfeed her for at least six months. Once you stop breastfeeding, your breasts will return to almost their pre-pregnancy shape and size.
If you are formula-feeding your baby, your breasts may be uncomfortably full until the levels of the milk-producing hormone, prolactin, fall. This will send the message to your body to stop making milk and your breasts will, over several months, more or less go back to their pre-pregnancy size.
Your body will have changed after pregnancy and childbirth, but try to be proud of it. It’s done an amazing job of bringing your baby into the world.