What to expect after the birth
Aside from the euphoria of finally seeing your baby and holding him/her in your arms for the first time and enjoying the special moment and memories, your body has just gone through a lot!
The period after your baby is born is where your uterus contracts, (returning to its normal size) and is called the puerperium. After the birth you will experience after pains, a result of your uterus contracting. These pains will feel like period pains or Braxton Hicks' Contractions. To relieve pain you may want to have a bath or use a hot water bottle.
After the birth of your baby, your midwife (or care giver) will check your blood pressure, pulse, uterus and vaginal bleeding (lochia). Your body and hormones have just gone through a huge change in a very short amount of time. Naturally you are likely to be very tired and will probably want to make the most of resting and relaxing while you are in hospital (if you have chosen home birth make sure you can relax and let your family look after you).
After delivery you will have a vaginal discharge called Lochia. Lochia is the vaginal discharge from your healing uterus. This usually lasts on average 21 days or can persist up to 6 weeks. Breastfeeding can help reduce the duration of lochia because the hormone oxytoxin released when breastfeeding causes the uterus to contract also.
Lochia discharges have three distinct phases. The first stage, about 4 days after birth is bright red and may be as heavy as or heavier than a period. Discharge then gradually reduces and colour changes to a pink or brownish colour as the lining of your uterus is shed. In the last stage, discharge will be yellowish/white. If you are still experiencing heavy bleeding after two weeks see your doctor.
Cervix and Vagina
Your cervix and vagina will have stretched a lot during the birth of your baby and will be tender and slack (this will not be permanent). While your cervix will return it's shape after about a week. To help your vagina return to shape continue to practice your pelvic floor exercises.
After having a caesarean wound you need to relax and not put strain on your stomach muscles to aid in your recovery. Avoid lifting heavy objects, climbing stairs and be careful how you get up out of chairs and bed, as your stomach muscles are used a lot.
Because an episiotomy wound is in a very moist area it can often be quite painful and tender while it is healing. Stitches will dissolve after about 5 days. Going to the lavatory may be quite painful, particularly if you sit on the seat. You might want to try standing so that urine (which is acidic and aggravates the wound) does not touch the wound, or pour warm water over yourself as you pass urine. Keep this area as clean as possible.
Your body will now be starting to recover and get back to normal. You may experience bladder (See Stress Incontinence - in Mum section) and bowel discomforts so try to drink plenty of fluids and maintain a healthy diet - to fuel both you and your breast feeding baby.
Following the birth of your baby you will experience some heavy bleeding for the first few days. This is the time that you'll need to use a pad that is longer than usual, like Libra Maternity. They are super absorbent, but ultra thin and extra long with wings, for extra protection and comfort. You're probably going to need about 2-3 packs of Libra Maternity for the first week. At this exciting and busy time, the last thing you need to worry about is a leaking pad. Libra Maternity pads help you feel comfortable and protected, without the bulk.
Libra have also added a drop of nature to our pads. Aloe Vera is known for its soothing properties and after the birth you will need all the soothing you can get!!
After the initial heavy flow you can move from this longer maternity pad to a regular pad. Libra Invisible BodyFit is perfect for this next stage.
It's back! Well it may take between 6 to 18 weeks, but if you resume having a sex life you will still need to take precautions. Although you may not have your period yet ovulation occurs before pregnancy.
The length of time you spend in hospital after birth really depends on the type of delivery you have. If all things went well with no complications you're likely to be discharged within a couple of days. If you had a caesarean section or your baby has complications you may have to stay up to 5 days or more.
When you leave the hospital don't be afraid that you'll be left on your own. Your midwife will continue to look after you for about the first 6 weeks after having your baby, helping you get into the swing of things. Mothers who have already had children will know what to expect.