Your Body After The Birth
Many women look in the mirror when they get home and compare their body with a half-deflated balloon, so you are not alone! Do not expect to be able to squeeze yourself into your pre-pregnancy jeans yet. Not only have your muscles and skin been stretched, but you may also be retaining quite a lot of fluid (oedema). Your body also needs time to recover after the birth.
Once you are home, you may find that your feet and legs become swollen, in which case raise your feet when resting, or sleep with a pillow under your feet. You will gradually lose the excess fluid as you pass urine.
Any stitches given after a vaginal delivery will dissolve, so they do not have to be removed. However, you need to keep the area clean and dry. A daily soak in the bath can make a big difference to how you feel. Adding four drops of lavender oil to the bathwater may help and you may prefer to sit on a rubber ring. If you have had a tear or a cut (an episiotomy), your midwife will check that the area is healing and that there are no signs of infection. A caesarean section involves different types of stitches: some dissolve but others have to be removed by the midwife on about the fifth day after delivery. Most women do not find this painful because the area often still feels numb. If you are worried, you can always take a couple of painkillers beforehand.
After the birth you will have a blood loss - called lochia - which is similar to a heavy period. This can last for up to 6 weeks, even after a caesarean. However, the flow should become a lot less after the first week and will become more of a brownish discharge, gradually becoming lighter. Use sanitory towels, not tampons because these can cause infection.
If you notice any clots on your sanitary towel, show them to your midwife. She can examine them to make sure that it is only blood. Very occasionally, the clots contain a piece of placenta, which means that not all of the placenta has been expelled. If the blood loss is heavy, or smells bad, tell your midwife because this could indicate an infection and you may need some antibiotics.
Once you have given birth, your uterus shrinks, taking about 6 weeks to return to pre-pregnancy size. As it contracts in the first few days, you may feel 'after pains', which are similar to period pains. These pains are stronger with a second or subseguent baby and are more noticeable when you are breast-feeding. Any pains should respond to mild painkillers, a soak in a warm bath or a hot-water bottle held against your stomach. Your midwife will check your uterus by gently pressing on your abdomen.
Bladder and bowels
Your bladder should return to normal after the birth of your baby, but you may feel bruised from the delivery. Passing urine may sting, especially if you have had a tear. If this is a problem, try passing urine in a warm bath or pour a jug of lukewarm water between your legs while you are sitting on the toilet. Drink plenty of fluids and resist the temptation to hold the urine for as long as possible because this will make you more likely to get an infection. It may be a few days before you open your bowels again. You may find being in hospital inhibiting and want to take your time in the toilet and you may also be worried about the stitches. Drink plenty of water and eat fresh fruit, vegetables and other fibre-rich foods. Also, remember that any codeine-based painkillers can cause constipation. If you still have not opened your bowels a few days after returning home, your midwife can arrange for a mild laxative.
Around the third day your breasts will become large, hard and engorged with milk. This will happen even if you decide to bottle-feed, but nowadays you will rarely be given medication to prevent this happening. The milk will come in and the discomfort will go after a couple of days, so wear a good support bra in the meantime.
|How long will it take to lose the weight I put on?|
|A Women vary in the amount of weight they gain in pregnancy and in the time it takes to return to their pre-pregnancy shape. You'll lose some weight almost straight away after the birth, and more weight is lost as the uterus contracts to its normal size. It is important not to do too much when you are a new mother, so rather than aiming to return to your pre-pregnancy weight as fast as possible, try to relax, feel good about yourself, and be assured that widi all the exercise you get from looking after a new baby, you will soon lose the weight.|