I went into labor in the middle of the night. So on my baby’s first day in this world I was running on zero sleep and pure adrenaline. Most of the days immediately following her birth are a blur. Your body goes into this strange state of jubilance.
Everyone will obviously have a little bit difference of experiences, but let me share with you from my experience what you may expect in your first few days postpartum.
Vaginal Bleeding (for those of you that will deliver vaginally)
We are all familiar with this when we get our menstrual cycle each month, but the bleeding associated with being postpartum is like your period on steroids. You will need large pads and a lot of them. Hospitals often give you an abundant amount of these, but you will definitely need more once you go home. Do NOT use tampons until you are cleared by your OBGYN.
Perineal swelling and pain
Consider the size of what is to come out of your body (your baby) relative to the size of the port of exit (your vagina).
There is going to be a lot of pain and swelling of your lady parts. You can use ice packs to help as well as ibuprofen. The swelling will take several days to go down, and the tenderness can last for weeks. Especially if you have tearing that requires stitches. I know I was surprised at just how swollen my perineum was. It felt like I had something artificial attached to me.
In other words, you may not be able to hold your urine or bowels. Your pelvic floor muscles just did the workout of their life. They need a break after the intense act of pushing a baby out of your body and so they will take it. Leaving you with an impaired ability to hold it in if you really need to go to the bathroom. This will get better after the first several weeks. Kegel exercises can help strengthen your muscles again, but do give your body time to heal before you start doing this.
You will need to ensure you keep your perineal area clean. This is especially important if you had tearing that required stitches. Typically the hospital will give you a squirt bottle that you will fill with lukewarm water. You should be doing this every time you use the bathroom.
You may experience shivering and feeling very cold after delivery. This may be caused by hormonal shifts or fluid level changes within your body. It should subside within an hour or so. It can be worrisome if accompanied with high fever and severe sudden chest pain or shortness of breath.
Your uterus does not just go back to normal immediately following delivery. It takes about 6-8 weeks to return to non-pregnant size. In order to do this, you will experience cramping. Have you heard of fundal massage? It is something that your nurses will do periodically to help reduce the incidence of severe hemorrhaging (bleeding). It is not comfortable, but it is necessary.
You will have many people coming in and out during your hospital stay. Doctors, nurses, lab technicians, lactation consultants, the lunch lady… it is a hectic time. There is a lot of information given to you during this time, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed.
Take a deep breathe, mama.
Once you get home and start to get into the flow of things- everything will fall into place.
Congratulations on your sweet new arrival!
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