After a baby, a woman’s body changes whilst it recovers from birth and prepares for the mother load. Here is what you can expect from your body after birth.
One of the most noticeable changes after birth is to the breasts. After birth, your baby attaches to the breast which stimulates milk supply. To maintain the supply in the first 6 weeks, babies will usually need to attach every 2 to 4 hours.
After the colostrum of the first few days, milk comes in, then breasts will engorge. Engorgement can be painful, and around this time the baby may also start to cluster feed every hour. Engorgement pain can be relieved with medication but also chilled cabbage leaves too!
Sometimes nipples can become sore or cracked. Nipple care includes attaching the baby correctly, nipple cream, or temporarily sparing the nipple using a shield or expressing. When not breastfeeding, the breasts can still leak milk, so nipple pads are commonly used to stop the milk wetting through. Breasts can also leak milk on hearing a baby cry, or during sex.
Interestingly, many women notice after they have finished breastfeeding, they have a different bra size.
All women have vaginal blood loss after childbirth. This is called lochia. At first lochia can be heavy and may include small clots. Lochia changes from bright red blood, to a brown loss after a week or two, and then eventually to a clear loss. Bleeding is heavy if saturating through more than a pad every two hours.
After-birth pains can be more noticeable after each subsequent birth. These come in small waves and can be exacerbated when breastfeeding.
After vaginal birth, the perineum can be bruised and tender. This pain can be relieved with ice packs and medication. Make sure to change pads regularly after childbirth and keep the area clean with a water wash only.
After a Caesarean, women also experience wound pain. Most pain and vaginal bleeding should have resolved by the time you see your GP or obstetrician for the 6 week check.
Increasing or continuous pains or bleeding, or fever after childbirth, is not normal, and a woman should see her doctor.
Pregnancy… yes it can happen and as soon as three weeks after birth. Breastfeeding is not a perfect contraceptive, but there are lots of contraception options available. Sex after childbirth is an individual choice when to resume, although the first six weeks is usually advised against.
Gradual Weight Loss
Six months is a good time to be at pre-pregnancy weight and have resumed all pre-pregnancy exercise and activities.
A gradual build up from walking, to swimming and running, and then, weight bearing exercise can occur over the first 3 months. The first six months after birth is a high risk time for iron deficiency as well, so consider a multivitamin and a well-balanced diet too!
To, to all new and expecting mums out there, just remember body change is normal. Regardless of shape or size, after birth, the most important things are to take care of yourself and to love and get to know your baby.