Your Body After Baby: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

After labor, the pain is over, right? Not so fast. Your body still has a lot of work to do to get back to its pre-baby state. Certified Nurse-Midwife Bronwyn Fleming-Jones gave us tips for getting through post partum aftermath (aside from breathing deeply).

1.    You will continue to have contractions as your belly shrinks.

The contractions are your body’s way of stopping the bleeding and reducing your uterus to its pre-baby size. These can feel pretty uncomfortable for a few hours and may last a few days. Your uterus is above the belly button before you give birth, and it goes down about a finger-width each day until it’s completely contracted down. 

What to do: Take ibuprofen like you would for menstrual cramps to alleviate the pain and try to pee often (any pressure on the uterus keeps it from contracting fully).

2.    You will have to endure a post-labor belly massage by a nurse or midwife.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this will be relaxing. It will hurt like hell and may lead to you involuntarily smack the medical attendant (nurses are used to this). This is done to help your uterus contract more quickly and reduce blood loss after your placenta detaches. 

What to do: Breathe and endure (sorry, there’s not much more on this one).

3.    You will sweat like never before.

All of the fluid from pregnancy has to exit your system, and it will feel like you are waking up in a sauna for the first few weeks. Your body temperature will be out of whack as well, so you may feel like you are having cold sweats at night, and urinating may burn when your vagina is recuperating (fun times).

What to do: For the sweats, just try to regulate your temperature to stay as comfortable as possible. For the painful urination, use a squeeze bottle of water to rinse yourself and then drip dry, rather than irritating the area even more with dry toilet paper.

4.    You may experience back door woes.

Your mom friends will probably warn you about this. All that pushing and force on the pelvis creates some fairly unpleasant results for the rear. Hemorrhoids are very common and can mean really uncomfortable irritation or pain in your rectal area. Constipation is also a usual suspect and can make the first week after labor  

What to do: For hemorrhoids try Tuck’s pads, which are infused with witch hazel to limit circulation to the area and relieve some of the swelling. Preparation-H is also good to have on hand. For constipation, take a stool softener to get things moving, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

5.    Get ready to surf the crimson wave.

There will probably be a good amount of bleeding for a few days after you give birth. This is caused by open blood vessels from the placenta detaching, and is called “lochia.” It will start like a heavy period with dark red blood and will fade to pink then to a reddish brown color. Ultimately it can be a few weeks before you completely stop bleeding, less for those who have a C-section. Breastfeeding can increase the flow.

What to do: Just wait it out and take home plenty of the giant pads they have at the hospital (stash them in your bag!). Don’t try to use tampons due to the risk of infection. As long as there is not a strong odor or strange color, which could mean an infection, you shouldn’t be concerned, and the bleeding will subside over a few weeks.