Congratulations! The labor and delivery were a success, and mama is healing nicely! The idea of going into labor can be an intimidating thing, but once parents see their little bundle of joy wrapped like a burrito in a blanket, all that hard work is suddenly worth it.
As many parents know, of course, now that the baby is safely here, this is when the work begins. Being a parent isn't just a title — it's a fulltime job. Not only does the baby need to get used to life outside of the womb, but mama needs to heal. Depending on whether a woman has a C-section or natural birth, she'll need help going to the restroom because she may not be strong enough to walk yet; her wounds will need to heal safely before doing any kind of hard physical labor; she may have to deal with night sweats due to the changes in estrogen levels; and she'll have to learn to grasp breastfeeding if she's not going the formula route.
Being a new mom or dad is stressful as it is, and while making sure that little baby is strong and reaching all of its milestones, parents also need to take care of themselves. It's a delicate balance, but knowing what to expect (or what to look out for) can make all the difference for both a new parent and baby.
Most women are over-prepared for what's going to happen to their bodies; meaning they overthink about all the things that could happen or go wrong once that little one comes out. A woman's "nether regions" are so sore because the perineum has been stretched (and sometimes even torn) during a natural birth. This area is especially sore if a woman needed to be snipped by the doctor to create more room for the baby to come out safely, according to the March of Dimes. As a woman is healing, the doctor will continue to check on a woman's perineum to make sure it's healing nicely.
This is one of those things that not many women talk about, but most doctors and nurses want to make sure mom can fart before she leaves the hospital room. Yep, you read that right! In most situations, it can be a little uncomfortable because the baby and your partner will be ready to leave the hospital and head home, but that can't be done until the staff is comfortable with the way mom's body is running. They will consistently ask if you passed gas before you leave the hospital. And this is one of those things you don't want to lie about... Be honest about it because it's in your favor.
I have met multiple mothers in all different positions where they've said, "I'm going to pee myself!" As a kid, I never understood why my mom would say it; I always thought it was an expression or maybe her just being dramatic. But it's actually very common in moms. According to Rose Pope, there are two forms of incontinence in postpartum moms: Stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is from things like "laughing, coughing, jumping, or running," while urge incontinence is "when you feel like you really need to pee way more often than normal, and sometimes you don’t even make it to the bathroom."
To help with incontinence, try doing pelvic floor exercises.
Women truly are superheroes. After she carries the baby for nine months, births the baby safely, she then has to raise and nurse the baby while also being in physical pain herself. On top of night sweats and the baby blues, she may also have something called "afterbirth pains," which is actually more technical than it sounds. March of Dimes explains it as "belly cramps you feel as your uterus (womb) shrinks back to its regular size after pregnancy." The cramps a woman feels are similar to menstrual cramps and should only last a couple of days. "Right after you give birth, your uterus is round and hard," but after around six weeks, it's almost back to its original size.
Emotions and hormones in every new mom vary. I've met women who can't stop crying while looking at their child or thinking about their future, and then there are others who just don't cry. Hey, some people aren't natural cryers. Mom.me explains that a new mom will cry for multiple reasons, no matter how big or small the issue is. It's the change in hormones that makes a woman more emotional than normal. From the good things, like seeing your baby feed, to the stressful things, like hearing your baby cry all night, it doesn't matter – be ready for tears. While your partner may not understand your sudden burst of tears, don't let anyone tell you that you're overreacting.
Thanks to endless books, influencers, forums, and the Internet, many moms are more prepared for birth these days than ever. Once the baby comes out, most moms know you need to sit in that uncomfortable position because a mom still needs to give birth to her placenta. Sometimes, though, the placenta just doesn't come out as easily, which is why some women are given Pitocin to help ease the placenta out. Today's Parent says "It helps your uterus contract and clamp down, preventing hemorrhaging. If you prefer to go [med] free, you can ask your doctor or midwife about opting out of the injection."
If anyone follows these popular IG influencer parenting accounts, they'll see a ton of moms talking about their pelvic floor. The Tot says your pelvic floor needs some much needed "attention" after birth. "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." To create a stronger pelvic floor, the site advises to stand more and sit less, buy sturdier shoes, but don't get too crazy at the gym; make sure you have your doctor's clearance before doing hard workouts.
An episiotomy is a small procedure made by the doctor if the baby cannot safely make it through naturally. The small tear is created so the baby has more room to comfortably come through the canal; however, an episiotomy is not a routine procedure, and a woman will need to heal from being stitched back up. If she did not have a child naturally, though, and had to have a C-section, then those stitches will be in place for at least five days, according to TheBump. It's even harder to have your body heal fully when you're tending to a newborn - and possibly other children - in the home!
Breastfeeding or not, a woman is bound to have chest engorgement during pregnancy and after birth. According to the Summit Medical Group, not only will a woman's chest get larger, but they'll also get firm and tender. SMG states, "Engorgement is normal. However, the swelling of your [chest] may make it hard for your baby to get milk. Your baby may not be able to latch on correctly and your nips may get sore." The cause of this, of course, is because of the change in hormones and your body getting ready to produce milk. A way to relieve an engorged chest is to milk often, use heat or cold to relieve the pain, or to pump. If you're not planning on breastfeeding, unfortunately, a new mom just needs to ride out the pain for a few days as the milk dissolves.
It's always been confusing to us why some people call C-section births the "easy" way out. There is no easy way out when it comes to labor and delivery; labor is hard on every woman! Similar to how those who had natural births, those who had C-sections will obviously struggle with aches. The incision, for example, could easily get infected, so a mama needs to make sure the area is clean and she's taking it easy. And since positioning can be uncomfortable for a mom with a C-section incision, finding comfortable ways to breastfeed and sleep can be suggested by your nurse or doctor.
I don't know about you, but when I think of night sweats I think about when a person has night terrors or when a woman goes through menopause. However, women who have recently given birth may experience night sweats, as well. Medical News Today explains that a woman goes through night sweats because "the levels of hormones, including estrogen, change as the woman's body adjusts to not being pregnant anymore." The changes in mama's hormones will ultimately affect her temperature, which is why she'' may sweat a bit at night. But that's not all, a woman's body is also trying to get "rid of excess fluid," sending her body into overdrive.
One of the best parts about being pregnant is having that pregnancy glow and that thick head of hair. When my best friend was pregnant, her hair was so thick and shiny — she was dreading the day it would all leave! A woman's hair is so luscious during pregnancy because of the difference in hormone levels. However, as March of Dimes points out, as soon as the baby comes and postpartum life kicks in, a woman will most likely lose her hair. "Hair loss usually stops within six months after you give birth. Your hair should regain its normal fullness within a year."
Different form postpartum depression, the baby blues is a feeling of sadness or moodiness once the baby arrives. Unlike postpartum depression, which can last months, the baby blues can last up to a week or two after birth. As March of Dimes notes, "Baby blues can happen two to three days after you have your baby and can last up to two weeks. They usually go away on their own, and you don’t need any treatment." If those supposed baby blues last longer than two weeks, a mom could have postpartum depression, which is when she should reach out to friends or a medical professional for help (or any time if in doubt).
Afterbirth pains can be intense for some women. After all, her uterus was carrying a bowling ball-sized baby for nine months, so her body is going to need some time to heal. On top of afterbirth pains, though, a woman may also experience something called "the shakes." And yes, it's exactly what it sounds. Dr. Michele Hakakha, M.D., FACOG, an OB/GYN in Beverly Hills, California, stated: "Most women will experience full-body shaking after delivery." Furthermore, these shakes "occur from the immediate hormonal shifts that occur after delivery." As The Bump explains, these shakes should only last a couple of hours.
This can't be a surprise to new moms, right? Obviously, their lady parts and the lower half of their body is going to be in pain for a few weeks. Everything needs to heal — from the outside to the inside. The Bump explains how some women may be nervous by their swollen area because it can be "triple the size." However, this is extremely normal. A great way a woman can stay cool down there—and soothe swelling—is by making DIY cooling pads to wear during the day. If you're not the DIY type, though, you can always grab an ice pack and keep it close by!
One thing that a lot of women aren't prepared for after birth is what comes out of them after delivery... After all, now that your body has cooked this baby, it needs to get rid of excess liquids that it no longer needs. Instead of sharing nutrients and minerals, all those go to mama now. "After your baby is born, your body gets rid of the [plasma] and tissue that was inside your uterus," the March of Dimes says. The discharge may be "heavy" for moms a few hours or days after birth, but "over time, the flow gets less and lighter in color." This kind of thing can happen for a month or more after the baby arrives.
While many moms think the baby blues and postpartum depression are the same, they're actually different; and postpartum can happen to anyone — no matter how strongwilled a mother may believe she is. As the Mayo Clinic reminds us, "Postpartum depression may be mistaken for baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, and may eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks." Some symptoms may be nonstop crying, a loss of energy, loss of appetite, restlessness, anxiety, panic attacks, and more. As always, if you feel that you may be in a depressed state, contact your doctor.
There are a few women who believe they won't get hemorrhoids after birth because they've never had them before — even before baby. But that doesn't cancel out the experience once the baby comes. In fact, a woman is more prone to get hemorrhoids after birth because of all the pushing and pressure a woman goes through in her lower regions. According to Healthline, these swollen veins occur form "increased pressure" in your bum.
These small annoyances typically go away on their own, but depending on the size and the severity, it may take weeks. If a mom is feeling any kind of discomfort, contact a professional for assistance.
After going through the labor and delivery process, a woman will notice going number two may seem harder than they expected. After the meds ware off and the body heals, forcing your body to push more may seem like too much work for your little body; this is why constipation postpartum is so common. As the Medical Center at the University of Rochester says, a woman should have normal bowel movements a few days after birth. To help make it easier on yourself, try drinking "eight to 10 large glasses of fluid a day," eat prunes, and drink warm beverages first thing in the morning to see improvement.
You're a lucky gal if you've never struggled with a urinary tract infection (UTI) before, but for a majority of us, they're quite common. And yes, they're incredibly uncomfortable and can only be resolved by meds. What many women are unaware of though, is that women are more prone to UTI's after delivering their baby. "In the first few days after giving birth, you may feel pain or burning when you urinate (pee)," the March of Dimes explains. "Sometimes you may not be able to stop urinating. This is called incontinence. It usually goes away as your pelvic muscles become stronger again," but it's definitely a condition that requires the attention of a professional.
Sources: TheBump, Healthy Mummy, Today's Parent, March of Dimes, Medical News Today, March of Dimes, Mayo Clinic, TheBump, TheBump, Summit Medical Group, Healthline, URMC Rochester, Rosie Pope, Mom.me