'What happens the day after you give birth' is a question frequently typed into Google. The last time I checked, the search engine came up with 639,000,000 results. And it didn't come as a massive surprise to be honest. I know that, as a mom-to-be, I am madly curious about what is going to go on once baby is here.
I have been reading everything and anything to do with life postpartum, especially the day after the big event. And I have discovered that there is a lot going on mentally, physically and emotionally at this point, more than I - somewhat naively - expected, and with the baby too.
While your little one will go through rigorous testing to make sure everything is ok, you will be hurting all over, struggling to go to the bathroom and looking down at a baggy stomach. But you'll be a new mom, and you will bear with it.
If, like me, you're trying to prepare yourself as best you can for the birth, as well as your subsequent health, I really hope this list will equip you with much of the knowledge you'll need to be prepared for what is to come.
15 You Will Hurt All Over
The day after you have given birth, you are going to hurt. Even if you are lucky enough not to have endured a C-section, tears or a rough delivery. What you need to understand is that there is no need for you to act like a hero regarding the pain.
If you hurt, ask for pain relief, don't suffer through it because, momma, there is absolutely no need. The pain relief is on stand-by just waiting for you to ask for it. (Percocet and Ibuprofen are extremely effective and they are okay to use when you're breastfeeding.)
Asking for help means that you are taking care of yourself. Gritting your teeth and bearing it is no way to go, plus it will take away energy that could be better spent elsewhere, like getting to know your newborn.
14 It Might Hurt To Tinkle
Many moms dread going to the bathroom after giving birth because of how sore it is down there. And who can blame them? I know it is something that has crossed my mind, and I still have four and a bit months to go. I have already prepared myself to have to use a squirt bottle when I'm peeing.
Mea_S talks about her experience. "I never thought it burned, but it was uncomfortable (sort of the way it feels after you've waited WAY too long to pee). No stinging though. My issues were solely because I pushed for so freaking long everything was super swollen, so I had to use the squirt bottle every time I used the bathroom for quite a while."
If it is really difficult to pass urine, it's important to tell your midwife.
13 You'll Start To Make Milk
It will take a couple of days for your milk to come in. You will feel it in your boobs, as they will start to feel full. Though if it is your first baby, it might not take as long.
You might be thinking 'but I was leaking milk before I gave birth!' What you will have seen would have been the creamy first milk called colostrum. This is in your breasts from the middle of your pregnancy. In the days before you start producing milk, the colostrum is all your baby will need for nourishment.
It is your body's job to make milk automatically, even if your don't breastfeed. It does this in response to the hormones present in your bloodstream. If it takes longer than a few days for your milk to come through, it could be one of several things, including a stressful birth or diabetes.
12 Doctors Will Do Lots Of Tests On Your Baby
It will only feel like you have held your little one for five minutes, before they are being whisked away to undergo a range of tests. Be reassured though that the majority of babies pass their tests with flying colours.
Before you leave to go home from the hospital (if you had a hospital birth that is!) the medical staff will check your baby's hearing and do heart screenings. They will also draw blood for analysis. The doctor will be in touch if there is anything to be concerned about.
If you leave the hospital within 24 hours of giving birth, you will probably need to go back in a week or two to complete the necessary testing. The reason for this is because signs for some conditions do not actually show up until after your baby's second day out of the womb.
11 Your Mood May Be Up And Down
One thing that we need to get absolutely crystal clear is that, right after birth, there is no 'right' way to feel about your experience, your body or even your baby.
You might burst into tears every time you look at your little one because you love them so much. Or you might look at them and not be able to come to terms with the fact that you are now a mom. You might be preoccupied with the pain that you are in, or with your baggy stomach.
It is vital that you cut yourself some slack and remember that your hormones are going to be all over the shop. They will calm down and normalize again. Having frightening thoughts or feeling like you can't do this motherhood thing right after giving birth, doesn't necessarily mean that you are suffering with postpartum depression.
10 Baggy Stomach
I am starting to get used to this round, tight, taught stomach of mine, though I have also been putting quite a bit of thought into what it is going to look like once little one is out.
Apparently, after having given birth, your abdomen is quite baggy. Though despite delivering your baby, the placenta and tons of fluid, you will find that you'll still be a fair bit larger than your were before you became pregnant. This is partly due to the fact that your muscles have stretched.
The best remedy will be a balanced diet and exercise, though some moms do find that they struggle to lose the sagginess even with regular exercise and a balanced diet. Though from what I have read, many moms embrace their new priorities, and believe having a healthy, happy child is vastly more important than a flat stomach.
9 Postpartum Drainage
After you have given birth, you need to be prepared for the longest period you have ever had. This postpartum bleeding is called lochia, and it consists of blood, mucus and placental tissue and it last for ages. Usually about 4 to 6 weeks. It does have the tendency to stop and start.
The first few days after birth, the stuff will be bright red, then at some point it will turn pink or brown. Eventually it will start looking like white or yellow mucus. Nice. The hospital will provide you with a variety of pads in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
This lochia shouldn't smell any different than what your normal period smells like. If you happen to notice a weird odor coming from it, or if you catch sight of a greeny gunk, get checked out straight away as you may have an infection.
8 It Might Be A Bit Of A Mess 'Down There'
If you have had a 'straightforward' birth, your lady parts will look and feel a bit different. Though be assured that with time and pelvic floor exercises, it will go back to looking something like it did before. (Scared now? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't...)
Veronica commenting on BabyCenter.com said, "I used to look like a perfect closed baby pea pod down there. Now I look like purple cauliflower!"
It is common for women to have a small tear after giving birth, but in most cases it will heal well. Severe tears - or as they're also known third or fourth degree tears - are another matter. They take longer to heal and need specialist attention. Thankfully, it is rare for tears of this severity to happen.
7 Painful Tips
One thing I am most definitely not looking forward to about breastfeeding is the painful nipples. But I am going to need to think of myself as a warrior mom, and grit my teeth through the pain, like all of the other billions of moms who came before me did.
If you do decide to breastfeed, you might find, in the first few days, that you have pain in and around your nipples. It will be especially sore if they happen to crack. To manage the pain, use a special cream on them. It is also a good idea to let them air dry.
Much of the time, sore nipples are caused by problems with your baby latching on. Though it could also be thrush, a bacterial infection or Raynaud's syndrome, a condition where the nipple turns white after feeding and hurts as the blood flows back in.
6 Swelling In Odd Places
If you thought that after the birth you would be done with being all swollen up, you are, sadly, going to need to think again. As well as swollen private parts (it will be especially bruised and swollen if you had to push for a long time) you may experience swollen hands and feet.
When you are pregnant, you retain a colossal amount of fluid, and it takes a while for it to exit the body. IV fluids can also worsen the fluid retention and increase the swelling. But don't panic! The swelling will go down quickly, usually within a week or so. Ice packs are great to use to help ease the pain. Elevating your feet and walking can also ease your symptoms.
5 You Might Be Stuck In Bed
All mom wants to do after giving birth, is take baby home. But sometimes, new moms stay longer in their hospital bed than expected. If you need to have a c-section, you will have to stay there for at least 12-14 hours, as the epidural makes you too weak to walk. Though it's not rare for moms to spend up to ten days in bed after a c-section.
Staying in bed might not be all that bad a thing though. Actress Tahandi Newton spent over a week in bed after giving birth and cherished the experience. "Life changed profoundly after the birth of my children. If I hadn't been there to sense it in those tiny movements, noises and touch of my baby, perhaps I wouldn't have adapted. Those 10 days allowed for another gestation – from woman to mother."
4 So Much Sweating
You thought the sweating would cease once baby was born? Sadly, it doesn't. You will probably find that you sweat a hell of a lot during those first few weeks. Especially at night.
It happens because your body's estrogen levels will drop — and the change in hormones will really mess around with your body’s temperature regulation. It also has to do with the emotional stress of being a new mom. In addition, sweating is your body's way of getting rid of all that water you retained during your pregnancy. But try not to stress. You should only have to endure it for a month or two.
Postpartum sweating is absolutely normal, but, if you find that you have a fever too, contact your healthcare provider as you may be suffering with an infection.
3 'After Pains'
'After pains' are cramps that you will experience as your uterus shrinks back to its regular size. Believe it or not, but right after you have given birth, your uterus is round, hard and weighing in at 2 1/2 pounds. Six weeks later though, it will weigh a tiny 2 ounces. The cramps should go away after a few days, but if not, get your over-the-counter medicine for the pain.
One mom was frustrated when she wasn't warned about the pains: "After birth, there are sometimes ‘after pains’ for a few hours or even a day or two - no one warns you about these but after my second baby (they are most common after second or subsequent babies), I was mightily annoyed that after all of the hard work of labour was over, I continued to experience pain that felt like contractions, for about 24 hours."
2 Persistent Constipation
Going to the bathroom after giving birth is not an easy task for many women. Especially for those who had a c-section. Some have said it's 'like scaling Mt Everest.' It's common for women to think that by going to the bathroom, they will pop the stitches in their abdomen or private parts. Ironically, pain medication can make it even more difficult to go. As can supplements like iron.
The best way forward is to drink lots of fluids (between 8 and 10 glasses a day) and eat plenty of fiber. This helps make the process smoother. Stool softener can be a good idea too. Though remember that it is normal for a new mom not to go to the toilet for a bowel movement for a few days after she has given birth.
1 You'll Start To Lose Weight
To end, I have some good news! You will lose some of your pregnancy weight even before you leave the hospital with your little one. How? Well, you now have your 7-8 pound baby in your arms instead of your stomach, plus you have 'gotten ride of' at least 2 pounds of blood and amniotic fluid. This pretty much assures you a 10 pound weight loss before you are out of your hospital room.
Lisa Druxman, a San Diego-based fitness trainer and author of Lean Mommy says ,"In the first week you will probably lose another three to five pounds of water weight. However, it will take time until you return to your pre-pregnancy weight. It took nine months for you to put the weight on, so you should give yourself at least that to take it off."
Sources: BabyCenter.com, AlphaMom.com, PregnancyBirthBaby.com, PregnantChicken.com, MarchOfDimes.com, TheBump.com, FitnessMagazine.com