Giving birth to a baby is a grueling ordeal. A fully grown baby passes out of the vagina with tremendous effort from the mother. Once the baby is out there is a sense of immediate relief and comparative ease for the mother as well as the joy of seeing her new born baby.
Though the most difficult part is over it will take more than 6 to 8 weeks for the body to fully recover from the changes that it has undergone through the nine months of pregnancy and the process of delivery.
First week pains:
In the first week after delivery, muscles, especially that of the abdomen, back, shoulders, even jaw and face will be sore and achy.
Bleeding and Discharge:
There is bleeding and discharge from the uterus, called lochia for a number of weeks after delivery. The body tries to rid itself of all remnants of the pregnancy and cleanse the uterus out. This discharge is usually bright red and heavy, requiring larger sized sanitary pads to soak up in the early days. The discharge will reduce and change colour from pink, to brown to yellow or white. It will also become watery.
Some after pains, in the lower abdomen, which are like menstrual cramps for the first few days after delivery. This is because the uterus is contracting to reduce bleeding and also to decrease in size eventually to return to its normal size.
Vaginal soreness and pain can be present, especially if an episiotomy is used for birth. The swelling and bruising in the perineal area can make the passing of urine or stools painful. There could also be a possibility of developing piles.
Faecal and Urine Incontinence :
There could be faecal incontinence or inability to control the bowel movement causing the inadvertent passing of stools. In a similar way, there could be leakage of urine. Doing Kiegel exercises will help strengthen the lax perineal area and prevent this from happening.
Now that the breasts are ready for feeding the baby, they may become swollen and engorged with milk at times. The mother may experience discomfort or pain in the breasts. The breasts will also be painful to touch. Engorgement can be relieved by feeding the baby, by expressing the milk manually or with a breast pump, or by placing cold packs on the breasts.
There will be some hair loss at this stage. During pregnancy the surge of hormones in the body caused a lushness of hair growth. However, with the drop in hormones now, the hair begins to fall all at once. This hair fall will continue for 6 months.
Post Pregnancy Depression:
The drop in hormones also cause what is called 'baby blues'. The mother could experience mood swings often feeling weepy for no reason, or getting irritable or anxious. These moods usually settle after about a week or two.
The stretch marks on the abdomen will not go away at once. However, they will gradually fade away, turning from blue or purple to white. Any skin darkening, such as the dark line running down the abdomen will also gradually fade away.
Stubborn Weight Gain:
The weight that has been put on during pregnancy will gradually decrease as the body begins to shed off extra tissues in the uterus and excess fluids. The mother can return to her pre-pregnancy weight by doing exercises and dieting but it could take from 6 to 18 months to get back into shape.
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