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What to Expect After Giving Birth

A women’s body goes through full-body changes and adaptations when growing a little one. From hair and skin to hormones and pain, each mom has a different experience, but one thing remains true, the body goes through a lot.

Giving birth is another major hurdle the body goes through. Immediately after delivery and into the post-partum months, there are changes to get the body regulated and back to pre-baby normalcy. Keep reading to learn what to expect from right after birth to ongoing post-partum recovery.

What to Expect After Giving Birth

Transitioning from pregnant to post-partum is more than adding a newborn to the mix. Moms experience body changes physically, emotionally, and mentally.

While many uncomfortable symptoms are expected, keep in mind these symptoms should be discussed with a doctor or may require emergency attention.

Keep these warning signs in mind: 

  • Chest pains
  • Trouble breathing
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Severe headache
  • Extreme pain

Aside from severe conditions that should be checked out, there are several symptoms that are normal.

New moms can expect to see or feel the following after giving birth:

  • 3-10 days of bleeding
  • Backache
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Pain in the perineum
  • Trouble urinating
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Puffy or bloodshot eyes
  • Aches and pains throughout the body
  • Tender, swollen, sore, and/or hard breasts

After a C-Section, symptoms vary, and there are additional signs to look out for. Along with the above usual symptoms, moms can expect pain or numbness at the C-section incision.

If any of these symptoms increase in pain or become severe, contact your doctor. 

Postpartum Recovery Timeline

Bringing a new life into the world is a beautiful time but should also be relaxation and self-care for the new mom. Moms not only deserve but need time to recover and may be dealing with many symptoms over the months following childbirth. 

Weeks 1-6

This is your basic recovery window, where all moms are told to be careful, rest, and expect various symptoms.

Initial symptoms, followed by symptoms that can be present into week 6:

  • Changes in hormone levels (affecting emotions, hair loss, etc.)
  • Exhaustion
  • Breastmilk coming in
  • Bleeding
  • “Baby blues” including crying, overwhelm and may become more severe, including anxiety and depression symptoms.
  • Vaginal disfunction
  • Uterus contracting
  • At week 6, most are cleared for sexual activity and exercise
  • Difficulty controlling bladder 
  • C-section scar may be itchy

Month 2-6

  • Hormones should be settling back to pre-pregnancy levels
  • Bladder control should be back to normal 
  • Milk drying up
  • Period coming back around six months
  • Lingering signs of postpartum mental issues like postpartum depression

6 Months - 1 Year

From 6 months to one year, new moms can expect the above symptoms to continue regulating. If you are concerned about anything, it is best to contact your doctor and discuss your thoughts with them.

Symptoms common within six months to one-year postpartum:

  • Mostly back to yourself
  • The body may be different with weight settling in some areas
  • C-section scar should be completely healed, and numbness should wear off by the one-year mark.

10 Tips to Speed Up Post-Partum Recovery Time 

  1. Prepare during pregnancy for postpartum. While your little one needs attention, moms also need time to recover. Planning doctor’s appointments and even therapy appointments ahead of time for postpartum, as well as identifying family or friends who are available to help, are great ways to prepare.
  2. Have formula you can trust stocked if you’re planning to breastfeed or not. Some moms may need to switch to formula entirely or may use a formula to supplement.
  3. Use ice on the vagina after vaginal birth.
  4. Keep hydrated to avoid constipation.
  5. C-section scars should be clean and dry with plenty of fresh air.
  6. Take your temperature several times a day, especially immediately after childbirth, to catch the infection early.
  7. Once cleared by your doctor, try to move around during the day.
  8. Be open and honest with your partner and/or doctor(s) about mental health concerns. It is okay to feel symptoms of anxiety and depression, and professionals can help you.
  9. Move slowly into exercise, sexual intercourse, lifting, etc., once cleared.
  10. Ask for help and be gentle with yourself.

Recovering from Childbirth is Ongoing

While it may sound intimidating to count on so many postpartum symptoms, find comfort in the fact most moms slowly go back to themselves. Lean on those around you, and don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor whenever you have concerns.