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How does your body feel after giving birth?

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Wondering how you may feel postpartum?

Here are all the common side effects and postpartum body changes women experience after giving birth.

As a first time mom, you may experience some or all of these physical and mental discomforts.

But, don’t worry!

We’ll walk through each of these changes and how to deal with them.

While this may seem like a long and scary list, most of these symptoms are temporary and can be easily managed!

Woman holds baby in hospital gown after giving birth.

Physical Changes

Your body has been through a lot by this point. You’ve carried and delivered your baby, and now you’re likely still in pain.

On top of pain and discomfort, you will probably have extreme exhaustion and feel overwhelmed with your new duties as a mother.

You can use several newborn baby hacks and a newborn sleep schedule to make your life a little easier during this time of recovery and healing.

Abdominal Discomfort

It’s normal to feel continued abdominal discomfort after delivering your baby. These symptoms should subside after a few weeks.

For general abdominal pain, be sure to take doctor-approved medications, use the postpartum care items you received in the hospital and take things slow.

Afterpains

Many women continue to experience contractions or “afterpains” after giving birth. These are most often experienced while nursing your baby. These contractions, while painful, serve a very important purpose.

Your expanded uterus has to contract to its normal size and these contractions help that process along.

Constipation

You may experience some constipation after birth, which can be brought on by your pain medication and not wanting to push too hard down there.

Your doctor will most likely prescribe you a stool softener, so start taking it right away! You can also ask for prune juice in the hospital to get things moving.

When you get home, continue to eat foods that are high in fiber, take your stool softener, and be sure to drink lots of water.

Vaginal And Urinary Changes

Perineum Soreness

The perineum is the area of the body between the vagina and rectum. You will have a fair bit of soreness and swelling in this area from delivering your baby and any stitches that need to heal.

You can use a cold pack to help treat the pain or take lots of warm baths if approved by your doctor. You can also ease discomfort by using a donut cushion when you sit.

While in the hospital, your nurses will provide ice packs (sometimes a medical glove filled with ice!). You can also ask if they have any inflatable donuts you can use and take home with you.

Bleeding and Discharge

Your body will rid itself of lots of fluids and blood during this time. This can mean a heavy flow for several days or weeks.

While this process takes place, many women choose to wear adult diapers that you can buy at the store. You can also stock up on the free ultra maxi pads and mesh underwear they give you in the hospital and take them home!

Urinary Issues

You’ll likely feel some burning and stinging when you pee for the first little while.

Your pelvic muscles may also function improperly for a bit which can cause an inability to pee when you want to or the loss of control over your bladder.

To treat urinary pain, you should use lots of medicated cooling wipes, a perineal spray, and a peri bottle with warm water to help cleanse those tender areas while you heal.

(All of those items will be provided to you if you deliver at a hospital.)

When you use toilet paper to dry the area, be sure to only pat gently and not wipe until any incisions are healed.

To treat urinary dysfunction, you can try doing kegel exercises to strengthen your muscles and encourage healing.

Hemorrhoids

You may get hemorrhoids from pregnancy or during labor. The strain on your body can actually cause swollen and inflamed veins in your rectum that hang down and cause discomfort.

You can use hemorrhoid creams to treat this condition, which should go away overtime.

If these do not improve, you should see your doctor as it may be different type of hemorrhoid which requires surgical treatment.

Breasts Changes

If your breastfeeding, you’ll experience a wide range of physical changes to that area.

You’ll want to know these important things to know about breastfeeding, like leaking and engorgement and how to avoid infection.

If you’re not breastfeeding, you may notice that your breasts are smaller than they were before you got pregnant, and they may be more loose and saggy.

Skin and Hair

Hair loss

You may experience hair loss and thinning hair. For many women this is temporary.

You can help remedy this by eating a healthy balanced diet, drinking lots of water and continuing to take a prenatal vitamin.

Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are a common occurrence throughout and after pregnancy. You may find stretch marks on your stomach thighs, breasts, and even your arms and legs.

Think of them as a badge of honor!

If they bother you, try minimizing the appearance of stretch marks with stretch mark body creams.

You can also take collagen supplements and Vitamin E. Just be sure to check with your doctor first.

Emotional Changes

We don’t always think of our mind as being part of our body, but you may also experience mild or intense emotional changes as result of birth.

These changes care often caused by hormonal imbalances and may require medication.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, stressed and even a little depressed as a new mother.

But, if your mild depression symptoms don’t improve over time or you feel extreme sadness, disconnection, loneliness, hopelessness, anger or rage, you should seek treatment from your doctor right away.

You may have postpartum depression (PPD). This is a very common experience for women in postpartum and can vary from pregnancy to pregnancy.

Don’t ever feel embarrassed or ashamed if you experience these feelings. The best thing you can do for yourself and for your baby is to tell someone you trust and seek help.

Many women find that medication and therapy give them the ability to function and feel somewhat normal so they can care for their baby and enjoy life.

Here are even more helpful tips for the first time mom, from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond.

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