So you’ve had a baby and you have that lovely new Mum glow about you (ok, actually you look exhausted) and you’re falling in love with your little one but then you realise that things are happening to your body that you didn’t expect.
You might get some of these or all of these, the only guarantee is that you won’t get away with none of them. The reality is that post-partum is not that pleasant but, like labour, it’s soon forgotten and well worth the prize that you have.
However, if we all knew about these little “surprises” beforehand they would be much less shocking to us so do womankind a favour and next time a friend asks you what it is really like after you’ve had the baby tell them. Better prepared than scared!
Most new mums expect some bleeding after giving birth but they’re often amazed at how much there is and how long it lasts. Known as lochia, post-partum bleeding lasts up to 6 weeks. It is extremely heavy for the first few days although is considerably lighter by the end. Use sanitary pads rather than tampons during this time and take things slowly as strenuous activity can increase the bleeding.
Post-partum incontinence doesn’t happen to everyone but it is normal and usually temporary. The nerves inside the vagina can be temporarily numbed during labour and don’t work as well they should in holding it in. In most cases it will fix itself within a few days or weeks and you will be back to normal. If it doesn’t you should see your doctor.
Some new mums experience edema, or swelling after delivery. The feet, and sometimes hands, increase in size when all the blood and fluid from your labour is pumped out of your uterus. The swelling usually goes down within 7-10 days although some people to actually find their shoe size is larger permanently after giving birth due to the loosened ligaments during pregnancy. They could also reduce again slowly to don’t give away your Jimmy Choo’s just yet.
A few days after the birth your milk will come in if you thought your breasts were big at the end of pregnancy than you might have a shock coming. When the milk comes in it brings increased blood flow to the area and to some women it can be very painful, ending up with rock hard breasts.
The best way to relieve it is for your baby to nurse properly, don’t be scared to ask for help with this. If you’re not breastfeeding use cold packs of chilled cabbage leaves (strange I know but they do work) to reduce the inflammation but don’t be tempted to empty the breasts as they will just fill up all over again. If the problem persists after a couple of days see your doctor to rule out an infection such as mastitis.
Even if you didn’t get hemmorhoids during your pregnancy you could well end up with a whole bunch (sorry bad grape pun but that’s what they look like) from your labour. Cold compresses and medicated wipes can help and hopefully they will go away in a week or two. If they don’t go away swallow your embarassment and go and see your doctor, they are very common and you don’t need to suffer with them.
Whilst your hair might feel full and luscious during pregnancy it might not continue after the birth. Often, around the 12 week mark, women notice larger amounts than usual of hair loss. This is due to a change in hormones. It does stop eventually and experts say that hair should return to its normal state within 12 months. However, many women disagree and report that their hair is still thinner years later.
Of course you will have a paunch to start with, you had a baby in there for 9 months so it’s going to take a while to go down. However even after a year or two of regular exercise some women still have it thanks to looser abdominal muscles and changed hormones. It’s one of these things you just need to accept, live healthy and wear control tights when necessary, it’s a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.
Looseness “down there”
It’s common after a vaginal delivery to feel like everything down there is falling apart. This is normal, you have just put those parts of your body under huge stress and like anything else, they take a while to recover. Kegel exercises can help and new mums should avoid heavy lifting and constipation to prevent additional strain on the muscles whilst they recover.
Don’t worry, all is not lost, these things do get better eventually and after all you have a beautiful baby to make up for it! There’s always a silver lining to every cloud! 🙂