Postpartum

Physical Changes after Delivery

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December 5, 2022

The following are a few bodily modifications you might anticipate: 

Lochia (vaginal discharge) 

The vaginal discharge after giving a vaginal birth is called lochia. Lochia is mixed up with blood, tissues, and mucus that you might experience for up to 14 days after your delivery. The initial 3 days following your delivery, lochia is in a dark red color and in the form of clots. Slowly it starts to water down and become pink. By the time you have reached your second-week mark since the delivery, the lochia should’ve turned more yellowish. 

If you had a C-section birth, you might experience less amount of Lochia. In extreme cases, it might last up to a maximum of 5 weeks after delivery. The amount of discharge increases with physical movement. Use pads to absorb the bleeding and discharge. Do Not use tampons as they can cause infections and are also uncomfortable after delivery.

Breast milk

In the initial few days after your delivery, you will produce a thick, tiny amount of breast milk which is known as colostrum. After about 3 to 5 days, you can expect to start producing normal breastmilk to support your baby’s increasing demands. If you nurse often with a quick interval, you will produce more milk. 

Sometimes your body might produce a little more than your baby needs, in that case, you might need to use pads inside the bra to keep your clothes dry. You could also start using a breast pump or manually expressing your breast milk to drain all the milk out. 

Breast engorgement

If you don’t drain all of the milk out after feeding your child, the milk might start to collect inside your nipples and stop the milk from coming out. Once the milk doesn’t get through, your breasts will start to swell and become hard which is called breast engorgement.

It can be very painful for mothers and can also cause severe issues if not treated soon. One way you can prevent it is by breastfeeding more. Do the following to prevent it:

  • Alternate between breasts during breastfeeding sessions. 
  • Feed in regular intervals.
  • Express or pump all the milk out after completing your breastfeeding session. 
  • Make sure that your baby is latching on to your milk properly.

If you are already having issues and suffering from it, use the following tips to help with the discomfort:

  • Apply ice packs to reduce pain or soreness. 
  • Use some pressure to let out the milk while breastfeeding.
  • Take painkillers as recommended by doctors to relieve the pain.
  • Wear a supportive bra.
  • Apply a warm cloth and take a warm shower.
  • If the problem persists contact your doctor or your lactation consultant for further help. This can also lead to serious infections so contact your doctor immediately if the pain continues for a long time. 

Uterine contractions

As soon as you deliver the baby, your uterus starts to reduce in size causing you cramps and pain. From about 1 kg in weight after a week to 50 gms by the time you have reached 6 weeks, your uterus will contract and tone. In six weeks, your uterus will revert back to how big it used to be before you were pregnant. 

In the few hours after the delivery when your uterus contracts rapidly, it also helps to stop your bleeding. These contractions will cause you to cramp time and again.  These tips might help you feel more comfortable when you are having abdominal cramps:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Get a prescription for pain medication from your doctor.
  • Lie in a sitz bath.
  • Apply a heating pad to your abdomen.

Urination contractions and incontinence

For some time after giving birth, it is normal to have some abdominal cramps while urinating. However, it should be bearable and get better with time. Communicate with your doctor if it isn’t getting better.

The vaginal muscles and bladder have also taken a hit during the delivery. You might not be able to hold your urine for the same duration of time that you used to. Due to the strain during delivery, the muscles on your pelvic floor might have become strained and cause urinary incontinence.

You might experience leakage while you sneeze or perform any physical exercise initially. One way you can help it is by performing Kegel exercises which will help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. 

 Constipation

You will be constipated immediately following your postpartum which might take about 4 days to start to clear. During your postpartum, you will continue to have periods of constipation. The bowel movements will become more consistent as you heal. Sometimes the tear during the delivery could also cause you difficulty when you have to pass a bowel. Try to get some movements to help with digestion. 

Drink a lot of fluids to make your bowel movements easier. Eating healthy food items like green vegetables, whole grains, and fruits will help your digestive tracts to clear more easily. You can also get recommended laxatives and fiber supplements if you don’t feel better. 

Perspiration

If you are experiencing increased sweating postpartum, it is a common experience after delivery. Your body is releasing the extra water retained inside your body during pregnancy. 

In addition to perspiration, your body might also release the extra retained water through urine. Expect to experience night sweats for a couple of weeks.

Menstruation

If you are wondering when your period might return after the delivery, it might not return until the time you stop breastfeeding. If you decide not to breastfeed, you might get it after about 8 weeks of delivery. You should keep in mind that even if you don’t get your period back soon, you still could get pregnant during that time. The first few periods could be inconsistent. 

When to call your healthcare provider after delivery

Call your healthcare provider if you have:

  • If you have severe chills or a fever of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • When your lochia starts to smell extremely foul.
  • The initial bright red lochia bleeding lasts for longer than 4 days. 
  • You are experiencing large blood clots passing which are larger than a plum.
  • In the case of C-section delivery, you start to experience increasing pain and discomfort or see signs of infection. 
  • Experience breast engorgement for a long time and see signs of infection. 
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Continuous aches, burning, or difficulty while urinating.
  • Your bleeding has increased and you have to go through an abnormal amount of pads. 
  • You have blurry vision, headaches, and dizziness. 
  • Signs of postpartum blues, depression, and suicidal thoughts. 

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