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February 7, 2017 | OB/GYN
For many women, pregnancy and childbirth are some of the most significant life events they ever experience, and the female body undergoes a lot of changes to accommodate for this process.
While changes during pregnancy are often more noticeable to friends and family, the changes a mother experiences after pregnancy are significant too. The body makes several adjustments to support the new baby and help it recover from delivery. Here’s a look at common changes women experience postpartum (after pregnancy).
Women may experience pain in the days or weeks after delivering a baby, including contractions and muscle pain:
Many women experience difficulty urinating for a few days after delivery, and often experience constipation or painful bowel movements. In these cases, doctors recommend water and juice to help ease constipation. After the first several days, you may also start to urinate more frequently, or sweat more than normal as your body gets rid of the fluids it no longer needs.
After delivery, you will have a bloody discharge from your vagina called lochia. The discharge will fade to pink, then yellow within a couple weeks. Lochia may last as long as two months, though it may be sporadic for a few weeks.
Use pads instead of tampons during this process as your body heals, and don’t worry if you pass blood clots every now and then.
Within a few days of delivery, your breasts will fill with milk. This may be painful at first, and your nipples will be tender as your baby breastfeeds. Most women use some combination of heat and cold to limit pain and tenderness – ice packs are great, and some women enjoy hot showers. Soreness usually goes away in a few weeks once your body gets used to the breastfeeding process.
About one in eight women experience postpartum depression, a response from the body to the emotions of pregnancy. The signs and symptoms of postpartum depression vary, and having a baby also triggers a number of hormones that regulate mood and happiness.
Many women experience “baby blues”, which are mild symptoms of depression that often go away in a few days or weeks. Postpartum depression, however, involves moderate to severe symptoms lasting for long periods of time, and is often mistaken for “baby blues”. These symptoms can interfere with parenting and other responsibilities.
Postpartum psychosis, though rare, is a severe condition that some women might experience as well, and can be dangerous to the baby and the mother. If you are feeling any symptoms of depression, never hesitate to speak to a doctor.
“Physical Changes After Delivery (Postpartum Period).” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/baby/physical-changes-after-delivery-postpartum-period
“Postpartum depression.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/symptoms/con-20029130
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.