What Happens to Your Body After Birth?
Pregnancy is a time of tremendous change for your body, but the changes don’t stop once you’ve delivered your Tot…
You’ve spent the last nine months growing a human inside you – it’s an incredible, transformative, awe-inspiring process (seriously: you grew a human with your own body!) and one that requires a lot of changes. Your baby needs to grow, so your stomach muscles stretch to allow it. Your baby needs to come out somehow, so your hips widen to accommodate it. Your baby needs to be nourished, so your body makes a placenta.
It’s all pretty amazing. The rapid changes of pregnancy certainly slow down after you have given birth, and your after baby body will eventually feel like it is back to “normal,” but for a little while there are a few more changes to come…
10 Things that will happen to your body after childbirth
It’s important to be prepared for your post pregnancy body changes. In this article I will discuss 10 things that will likely happen to your body after baby:
- Your breasts will enlarge.
- Your vagina will be swollen and bruised.
- You will lose weight in the first week.
- Your uterus will contract.
- You will experience vaginal bleeding.
- You will need to look after your pelvic floor.
- Your stomach will look saggy.
- Your hair will look dull.
- You will need to look after your stitches.
- You will be emotional.
Scroll down to read more…
1. YOUR BREASTS WILL ENLARGE
Your breasts will be larger than normal – even bigger than they were during pregnancy, most likely. After delivery, your hormones send a message to your breasts, indicating it’s time to start producing milk to feed your baby.
For the first few days, you’ll produce colostrum, an incredibly nutrient-dense substance that’s thicker than the milk that will come later, and yellow in color. Packed with essential antibodies and immunoglobulins, colostrum gives your baby the nutrition he or she needs straight after birth. It’s pretty amazing – colostrum protects against bacteria and viruses and also has a mild laxative effect, helping your baby pass their first stools.
After two or three days, your milk will “come in” and your breasts will become larger and very, very hard. It’s likely they will cause discomfort, but nursing your baby frequently is the best way to alleviate the pain. It will also allow your body to start regulating the amount of milk it produces. Cold packs can also provide relief from breast discomfort.
Two other products we recommend to help your postpartum breasts include:
- Kushies Organic Jersey Nursing Pads, which help protect against this leakage.
- A natural nipple balm like Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter, which nourishes sore nipples in those early days of feeding.
2. YOUR VAGINA WILL BE SWOLLEN & BRUISED
If you had a vaginal delivery, your vagina will be swollen and bruised for a few days (up to a week) after birth. It might look a little unusual but it’s perfectly normal – you can use cold packs to help decrease the inflammation. Wear organic underwear and organic pads when possible.
Lying down rather than sitting will help with the bruising and lying on your side rather than on your back will also relieve the pressure. You might find sitting on a cushion more comfortable than sitting on hard chairs.
3. YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT IN THE FIRST WEEK
Your weight will go down. During the first week after birth alone, you’re likely to lose between four and six pounds of pure water weight. This is the result of both increased urination and perspiration.
If you’re breastfeeding, you can expect to lose even more weight. Nursing burns 300-500 extra calories a day, and while you’ll likely be hungrier to compensate for the additional energy you’re burning, you’ll still probably lose weight as a result of breastfeeding.
4. YOUR UTERUS WILL CONTRACT
By the time you go into labor, your uterus is 15 times heavier than its pre-pregnancy size. And what goes up (in size) must come down. Your uterus will begin to contract after delivery (breastfeeding can help quicken the process) and sometimes, it can be painful (similar to heavy period pain).
Use warm packs to ease the discomfort, and ask your midwife about painkillers that are safe for breastfeeding (if you’re nursing). You may still look like you are five or six months pregnant for a while after giving birth – go easy on yourself and give your body time to adjust, after all it took your body nine months to grow! If you are breastfeeding, those extra fat stores you put down will come in handy when nourishing your baby.
5. YOU WILL BLEED
You’ll experience bleeding, whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section. After the birth, you’ll bleed quite heavily for about a week. This is your body’s way of shedding the lining of the uterus and any excess blood – in other words, it’s entirely normal.
It’s a good idea to pack some organic sanitary pads when you go to the hospital as the bleeding will be intense for the first few days. Don’t use tampons until you get the go-ahead from your doctor (usually at your six-week check-up) – they can cause infections.
For the first week or so, the bleeding will be frequent and heavy, and bright red in color. After that, it’ll fade to a rusty brown color and become less heavy. If you notice any large clots (bigger than a quarter), call your doctor as you may be at risk of postpartum hemorrhage.
6. LOOK AFTER YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
Your pelvic floor may need some attention. Pregnancy and labor demand a lot from your pelvic floor. You might notice, after delivery, that you accidentally leak urine. It’s nothing to be embarrassed by, and will be helped with regular pelvic floor exercises.
Try and spend less time standing and more time sitting or even lying down (easier said than done, we know). Make sure to take your doctor’s advice before you hit the gym or put on your running shoes – being too ambitious with your exercise plans after childbirth can be counterproductive. See more on how to care for your pelvic floor after birth.
7. YOUR STOMACH WILL LOOK SAGGY
Your stomach may have stretch marks and will look quite saggy for the first two weeks after birth (and possibly longer), because it has expanded so much to accommodate the baby. Breastfeeding helps tighten this loose skin, and as your uterus contracts, your stomach will return to its old self. A healthy diet helps, and once you’ve gotten the OK from your physician, gentle exercise will get your muscles back to where they were.
Some women experience a common condition called Diastasis recti, which is essentially a splitting of the abdominal wall. See more about Diastasis recti and how to fix it.
8. YOU HAIR WILL LOOK DULL
Your hair may lose its luster. One of the nicer biological side effects of pregnancy is thicker, fuller hair. But generally, this bonus only lasts for the term of the pregnancy itself, and you may find your hair falling out in the months after your baby is born. Don’t worry, you aren’t going bald – eventually the thinning will slow and your hair will return to normal.
Remember to always use organic hair and skincare products when pregnant and nursing – the ingredients can pass into the bloodstream and into your developing or newborn baby.
9. LOOK AFTER YOUR STITCHES
If you had perineal stitches, keep them clean by bathing them in warm salt or plain water – don’t use bath products at all, these may cause infection. You might choose to not wear underwear at home, to reduce discomfort. These days, most perineal stitches are soluble, so you won’t need to have them taken out.
Sex after stitches may be a little painful or uncomfortable. Go slowly, use a lot of water-based lubricant, and if you don’t want to become pregnant again, consider your contraceptive choices (it’s a myth that breastfeeding is a contraceptive – you can definitely still get pregnant while nursing!
If you’ve had a C-section, your scar will be puffy, slightly raised and a little darker than the skin around it. Watch for any signs of infection – such as red, inflamed skin – and clean the wound with warm water and plain soap. Allow it to air dry to avoid infection.
10. YOU WILL BE EMOTIONAL
Your emotions may be fragile in the weeks after birth. Studies estimate that up to 80 percent of new mamas feel weepy and irritable after giving birth. And it’s understandable – your body, your home, and your life have undergone radical changes in a really rapid time frame. For most women, this feeling subsides significantly by the ten-day mark. If these feelings persist for you, see your doctor as soon as you can.
You might also feel scatter-brained and forgetful – again, this is entirely normal. In fact, scientists at the Australian Catholic University have confirmed that pregnancy does actually cause slight memory loss! Then there’s the lack of sleep, multi-tasking and general busyness of having a newborn, all of which can lead to forgetfulness. With more rest, you’ll be back to normal very soon.
EMBRACING YOUR AFTER BABY BODY
- Remember that body changes after birth are a normal and natural part of the process. The best thing you can do during this time is to focus on taking care of your body in a healthy, nourishing way. Read our self-care tips for new moms.
- If you’re breastfeeding, we encourage you to shop our nursing equipment, accessories, pillows and covers to ensure you’re prepared and comfortable.