The First Six Weeks After Childbirth
First of all, congratulations on your new, beautiful bundle of joy. Many mothers spend their fair share of time researching about labor and delivery. Your body goes through quite a lot after you’ve had the baby too, and not many new moms know what to expect post-delivery. So, if you find yourself wondering what’s next, then you’ve come to the right article. Here is what to expect over the six weeks post-delivery.
A post-baby belly
If you’re a first-time mom, you might notice that your belly still looks the same as it did when you were still carrying your child. This is absolutely normal and your belly will eventually shrink back down again. During pregnancy, your uterus, abdominal muscles, and skin become stretched! They have been stretched over a long, nine-month period. It can take weeks, sometimes even a little bit longer, for your tummy to shrink back down again. The swelling from a C-section can take a little bit longer to heal. In any case though, a post-baby belly is perfectly normal and natural. If you feel a little self-conscious about it though, you can always buy some tummy flattening wear. In fact, KeaBabies 3-in-1 Postpartum Belt is one of the best! It was made for amazing mommas, just like you, and you’ll love how comfortable and wonderful this product is. It won’t break the bank either!
Sorry momma, but those irritating contractions are going to last for a while, even after your baby comes. These cramps are caused by the uterus healing, tightening, and shrinking back down to its normal size. Thankfully, the contractions won’t be as difficult as the ones you have experienced during your actual labor. These cramps are often referred to as “after-pains” and most mothers tend to experience these pains during breastfeeding. Breastfeeding creates a hormone called oxytocin and that hormone can further induce the “after-pain” cramps. But the cramps can happen at any time. It’s just a part of the healing process and will subside after about a week or two. Just think of them as a sign that your body is healing and things are getting back to normal again.
Excess Water Weight
After giving birth, you are instantly going to lose about 10-13 pounds! This weight loss comes from the baby, the placenta, and the amniotic fluid that you lose. Your body will still retain water weight though, and you might notice it for the first 24-48 hours after giving birth. You might find yourself needing to pee a lot, or find that you’re having rather severe night sweats. Rest assured that this is completely normal though and just a part of the after-birth experience. You are likely to notice even more water weight if you had a C-section! Prepare for a lot of peeing and perspiring.
You’re going to notice that your breasts will look and feel rather engorged. This is just normal. Your breasts are going to feel heavy and they might even feel sensitive and sore. Depending on how your baby is latching on, you might also notice some nipple pain and sensitivity. You can always talk to a lactation consultant to ensure that your baby is latching properly and that your baby and you are both getting the best out of the breastfeeding experience.
It might be difficult and/or even daunting to go to the restroom after having a baby. A lot has happened to that general region of your body and it can be painful or uncomfortable even just to pee. Difficulty or pain with elimination is completely normal. You’re bruised, you’re sore, and if you had a C-section, the anesthesia might even be constipating you, making it even more difficult to eliminate. The best way to keep things going smoothly is to drink a lot of water and eat foods that are high in fiber. This will make eliminating easier. Every woman’s body and healing process is different, so there really is no telling how long eliminating may be uncomfortable. Typically, it’s only for the first week or two after delivery. If you feel like your elimination discomfort is too much, don’t be afraid to talk to your OB about it.
Whether you’ve had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, you will endure some bleeding afterward. This discharge is called lochia and it is comprised of left-over blood, mucus, and sloughed-off tissue from the uterus. For most women, this bleeding is quite heavy for the first 3-10 days post-partum. It will be even heavier than a standard period. You may have random bleeding even after the 3–10-day period. It might be spotty, might come in gushes, and you may even notice clotting too. Don’t worry though, it is all normal. The bleeding will eventually taper off over the coming weeks. During this time of bleeding, it is advised that you use pads instead of tampons. Using a tampon, during this time, might interfere with your body’s natural healing process. It also isn’t good to keep lochia inside of you. It is best to let it drain completely out, which is something tampons can’t do. Keeping this blood inside of you might slow down your healing process or even make you sick. If you feel like your bleeding has lasted for too long or if you feel like your bleeding is a little too excessive, speak to your OB about it.
Whether you’ve given birth vaginally or by C-section, you are bound to be quite sore afterward!
If you’ve delivered vaginally, you will notice that you’re going to bruised, tender, and possibly even torn. It may hurt to walk and especially sit down. You can ease the discomfort by placing an ice pack down there. It might also help to gently clean yourself up after using the bathroom. You can a squirt bottle, filled with warm water or you can take a sitz bath (soaking the area in warm water.)
If you delivered by C-section, then you will be quite sore around the incision area, you may experience nausea, and you’re likely to even feel exhausted. Your doctor should prescribe you some pain meds to help ease the discomfort. It may be difficult to get up and move for a while. If you notice any redness, swelling, or oozing around the incision, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Hormonal Roller Coaster
You are probably going to experience what can only be described as an emotional roller coaster! Becoming a new mother is beyond taxing! Your body is trying to heal, you’re happy and scared all at the same time, you’re learning to cope with your baby’s demands, adjusting to a new lack of sleep, and basically building a whole new life with this little bundle of joy! A new mother is dealing with a monumental amount of changes and you’re not always going to feel happy. In fact, it’s perfectly ok to feel completely cruddy. It’s ok to feel like you’re not doing enough. It’s ok to feel miserable. Many mothers often feel guilty about not being able to feel happy after they’ve given birth. It makes them believe that something is wrong with them! Most new mom’s fail to realize all that they are going through and all that their body is going through. You’re NOT a bad mother if you feel unhappy. You’re NOT a bad mother if you’re overwhelmed. You’re NOT a bad mother if you feel like you can’t handle this! Your world is upside down and you shouldn’t beat yourself for feeling all over the place. These feelings are normal and you’re doing just fine. Moms are tougher than they realize and YOU are no different! You don’t have to feel 100% all the time. Your hormones are all over the place and it’s perfectly ok to not feel ok. Most mothers struggle with this emotional roller coaster for 2-3 weeks after delivering.
Now, if you are struggling to care for your baby or if you are having thoughts of suicide, this could be a more severe issue called Postpartum depression. Don’t beat yourself up if you think you fall into this category. You’re going to be ok. Talk to your doctor about it and he/she will work with you and get you through it.
A lot of new moms wonder when it might be safe to have sex again after giving birth. Truthfully, every woman is different and it just depends on how you delivered and how your healing is going. Typically, though, doctors recommend waiting six weeks before doing any sort of sexual activity. Even if you’ve delivered via C-section! Your incision will need time to heal properly. So, it might be a bit of a bummer, but you’re gonna have to wait to enjoy some intimate time. Talk to your doctor after your six-week check-up. They will be able to give you the green light when you enjoy sexual activity again.
You’ve Got This
It’s a lot to contend with and can certainly be overwhelming at times, but you’ve got this, momma. You are a super-hero and don’t you ever forget it!
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Sara Gale
Sara loves traveling and exploring new places with her family. She is mom to 2 lovely children and loves bringing them out on adventures.