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Why Your Recovery Time After Childbirth May Be Longer Than Expected

You are overcome with joy as you have just given birth. It is a momentous day that you will always remember. It may have been the most challenging part of your pregnancy. However, your journey isn’t over yet. You are now about to experience the after birth. The recovery stage of pregnancy may be just as challenging as the birth in that it affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The recovery stage isn’t as obvious as the other stages of pregnancy. During pregnancy, the attention is on the mother and how she is coping with the effects of childbearing. Once the baby is born, the focus is shifted to the baby, which is highly understandable. Your vulnerable newborn should receive all the tenderness, love, and care it possibly can.

What isn’t commonly spoken about is the recovery stage. As family and friends (and yourself) become taken with the baby, very rarely do they take notice of your recovery unless it’s completely obvious. It is very likely that most women prefer it that way. The changes and challenges that you may face in the days and weeks after birth may have you feeling embarrassed and not relatable.

Keep in mind that you are not the only one going through these challenges. Every mother out there has gone through the same ordeal of recovering from childbirth. However, the length and intensity of recovery may be different for each woman. Here is a list of reasons why your recovery time may be longer than expected:

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7 You Will See Changes In Your Breasts

You are probably well aware that your breasts have changed in the course of pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body is producing hormones that prepare your breasts for breastfeeding. You will indeed notice a change in size. It is very normal for them to become bigger to hold milk.

You will also notice that they feel different. As they become larger and full of nutrients, they will begin to feel sore and tender. Your breasts will not be able to recover to their normal size and feeling if lactation does not occur. Lactation occurs when a young is suckling at your breasts and the milk has been relieved from it.

It is a good idea to breastfeed as often as 12 times a day. If breastfeeding isn’t an option for you, be sure to invest in a breast pump. Pumping your milk will relieve the tension in your breasts. The lack of breastfeeding or pumping your breast milk will cause you to secrete milk during inconvenient times.

The expected time to be breastfeeding is approximately 7-9 months. However, the hormones that foster milk production, such as prolactin and oxytocin, may linger in your system past the expected time. This may be due to the act of your young one suckling. The production of those hormones will continue when if your baby suckles past the 9 months. Your hormones respond to the needs of your baby.

6 You Could Have Hemorrhoids

Similar to changes in your breasts, hemorrhoids may occur during your pregnancy as well. They are common in the days after birth, too, so do not be alarmed. Hemorrhoids occur when the blood vessels in your rectum become swollen. Hemorrhoids take on the shape of a lump and range from the size of a dime to the size of a quarter.

Hemorrhoids raise a lot of issues that may lead to the prolonging of your recovery from pregnancy. You get hemorrhoids during pregnancy due to the pressure that is put on your pelvic veins. Your uterus expands and carries the weight of your baby, thus decreasing the flow of blood from the lower half of your body.

Your vena cava also undergoes pressure from your uterus. The vena cava is found on the right side of your body. Its function is to receive blood from the limbs on the lower part of your body. When hemorrhoids occur, you are more than likely to experience constipation.

Constipation is when you have difficulty passing stool due to the slowing down of your intestinal tract. Constipation will aggravate your hemorrhoids, and leave you feeling gassy, bloated, and tense. It is all very unpleasant. But, there are a few things that you can do to help this part of your recovery.

Here are a few tips to ease constipation:

  • Include more fiber in your diet (whole grains, fruits, vegetables)
  • Eat healthy portions. Overeating can cause your digestive tract to be backed up
  • Drink lots of water
  • Stay active. Exercise will get your bowels moving

5 You Might Feel The Wear And Tear

You wore your baby belly for 9 months, and then went through the challenging experience of labor and birth. Whether you had a c-section or vaginal birth, there is bound to be some tearing and some stitches. You can definitely count on there being some extreme stretching as well.

Your recovery may feel like it’s taking longer than expected because of the time it may take for your wounds to heal. During labor, it is common for tender spots of your vagina to tear. Even after the stitches have healed, you may experience some soreness in that area. The soreness can last up to several weeks.

Some difficulties you may face during this time includes tenderness when sitting, walking, and all around moving, and stinging and pain when urinating, To combat these difficulties, or at least reduce the pain, you can start by applying ice. Ice will take down any swelling and temporarily numb the soreness.

Keeping the area clean is also a great way to help the healing process. Before and after urinating, be sure to clean the area. You don’t have to use soap. In fact, it may be better to only wash using soap down there twice a day to prevent drying and itching. A little bit of water will do. 

4 You Could Experience Contractions

After you give birth, your uterus does not simply shrink back to its regular size - at least not right away. It may take up to two months for it to get back to normal. You will experience evidence of your uterus shrinking through some cramping and contractions. The intensity of the contractions tends to be the most painful during the first couple of days.

You will notice cramping the most as you breastfeed. During the first trimester of your pregnancy, your body produces hormones that bring forth milk for breastfeeding. These same hormones are released as your baby engages in breastfeeding. The hormones are what causes the contractions to occur.

As time goes on the cramping will ease in strength. It will still feel uncomfortable, but will be more tolerable. However, the pain differs from woman to woman. Women who have given birth for the first time tend to feel the cramps less than those who have given birth several times. As you give birth more often, the muscles of your uterus become weaker and unable to hold a contraction.

If you are experiencing painful after birth contractions and cramping, there are a few things that you can do to ease the pain:

  • Gently massaging the area to ease cramps
  • Applying pressure by laying down on a pillow with your lower stomach
  • Applying a hot compress on the area of the cramps
  • Drinking warm liquids to relieve tension
  • Taking a pain killer medication like Tylenol 

3 It May Be Hard To Regain Tummy Muscles

You might wonder why your baby bump hasn’t gone away yet. A lot of it has to do with the fact that your uterus needs to shrink, which takes time. The muscles in your stomach have gone through a lot. Your stomach has been stretched in every way to accommodate your baby.

Other factors that may contribute to a slow process of recovering from the baby bump is the amount of weight you have gained during pregnancy and whether or not you are breastfeeding. It is not advisable to start heavily exercising for the purpose of losing weight during recovery.

There are few things that you can do to help gain a better recovery in the area of your tummy. Breastfeeding allows for the consumption of calories from mother to baby. If you are not breastfeeding, consider using a breast pump to extract the extra calories from you.

As you are still recovering, light exercises will help you lose your excess baby belly overtime. It is a good idea to regain those tummy muscles first. You want to make sure that you aren’t doing anything too strenuous. Pushing yourself too hard can also set back your recovery time.

Before beginning light techniques for regaining muscles in your stomach, check first to see if you have diastasis. Diastasis occurs when the rectus abdominis separates and, in turn, creates a bulge in the belly. Seeing a doctor to determine if you have diastasis first, before proceeding with exercise will help in your recovery time. 

2 Your Tailbone May Be Injured

During the birthing process, you may feel soreness in your tailbone area. In some cases, women may feel a break in their tailbone. The tailbone area does not allow for flexible movement in the birthing process. If your baby is large in size or is positioned awkwardly, it may cause strain.

Your recovery time may take longer than expected because your tailbone may be injured or even broken. You may notice signs of injury, such as soreness when you sit, and during bowel movements. The tailbone area will be extremely tender and painful if you have broken it or fractured it.

The best way to find out if it is broken is to see a doctor.

Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor may advise you to wear cushioned underwear to soften any impact to that area. You may need to simply apply ice packs to that area to stop the swelling.

1 It Is Likely You Are Not Getting Enough Rest

One of the most popular reasons for experiencing a longer recovery time is the mere lack of rest that you are either unable to give yourself or have not given yourself. Tending to the needs of a newborn is challenging and time consuming. However, when you have your baby, the rest of your life doesn’t stop. There are other obligations in your life that need your time and energy, such as family, household chores, and social networks.

Now that you are no longer pregnant, you may feel eager to get back to things that you have put off due to your pregnancy. You may feel conflicted as you are also experiencing the usual symptoms of recovery, such as fatigue and pains.

Rest assured that you will have plenty of time to get back to your activities and lifestyle. As for other daily tasks that need to be done, be sure to utilize resources in your life, such as your partner, friends, and family. Your top priority in your recovery is to ensure that you are getting the rest that you need. 

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