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Your Body after Baby: What to Expect & When

Katlyn Joy |14, January 2013


Everything during pregnancy is geared to the big D day of delivery. What you eat, how you exercise, sleeping, and even hobbies are affected by this. Now you wake up and are looking in the mirror and see a stranger. So you wonder... will I get back to who I was -- ever?

Well, nothing will change overnight. And some changes will be permanent. However, which ones will depend on a number of factors such as genetics and your particular pregnancy.

While lots of articles, books and television programs will feature all the changes that occur during pregnancy, not many give you the lowdown on changes post-pregnancy. So here's the real scoop on what to expect after labor and delivery.

The Yucky Stuff

First of all, that heavy discharge that became bloody show before birth will be back with a vengeance after birth. Lochia will begin as a bright red and probably pretty heavy discharge but over time will become lighter, and the color will from red to pink to brown to yellow to white till it disappears altogether usually by your six week checkup. If you overdo it, you'll know because the lochia will get redder or heavier. If that happens, rest and relax and remember to give yourself some more time to recover.

Your perineum, or the area between your vagina and anus, will be sore after birth and if you required an episiotomy the healing required will be extended for those stitches to absorb and get back to normal. Your doctor will advise you to not wipe but use the handy-dandy squeeze bottle of warm water and learn to pat. Also you may find anesthetic spray or hemorrhoid pads most comforting for the first few weeks home after birth.

When you cough, sneeze, laugh or just wait you may find you are a bit like a nervous chihuahua; a piddler. You will experience this temporary incontinence for only a short time while things are healing and shrinking and generally getting back to normal.

And while talking bathroom topics, you will probably need a bit of help to get things moving after birth. Constipation after birth is quite common and you can help things along by drinking plenty of water, eating high fiber foods and taking a stool softener. Don't strain because the odds of getting hemorrhoids is increased now.

The Surprising Stuff

A few days after birth your milk will come in. You have probably heard about this but until you experience it, it's not to be adequately described. You will go to sleep with somewhat enlarged breasts thinking, "This must be it." Then you will wake to find jumbo stripper-sized breasts sitting where yours used to be. And they will have roughly the texture and consistency of boulders. To make things more fun, they will act like leaky faucets. You will randomly find milk dripping down your shirt, but usually at the most inopportune times like lunch with childless friends or your first day back to work. To help with engorgement pain, use supportive bras, cold compresses and pain reliever that is OK'd by your physician. To help with leaking, wear breast pads regularly until your milk flow and schedule is established.

You may actually need some relaxation techniques and medication even after delivery to cope with afterbirth pains. These pains mean your uterus is shrinking so be thankful for that. To allay them, use heat, pain relievers, and ask your doctor what else may help.

You may find out just how much fluid you're losing because you find yourself sweating excessively in the first several days. To deal, just change clothing, wear layers that are loose and made of breathable fabrics and grab a shower when you can. This won't last too long.

Your Figure

Ever seen stars or lucky neighbors even who get in their skinny jeans a week after birth? Forget about those anomalies you're a real woman with a real life. So truth be told, your weight can eventually get back to pre-pregnancy weight with time, patience and yes, work. Give yourself the same amount of time it took to put it on to take it off. Your shape may be a little more womanly especially if you were slightly slender or uncurvy before. Embrace your new figure and your new role.

Your breasts may change and depending on whether you nurse and for how long, you may need to wait to see what those changes are. Some people insist their breasts got bigger after baby while others say they lose a size with each baby.

Your shoe size may go up while pregnant and your feet may not return to your pre-pregnancy size. The upside is simple; shoe shopping.

Related Articles

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Opinion: Post-Baby Body Bragging

What to Expect Postpartum: Your Period

Postpartum Care: What to Expect and When to Call the Doctor

Reclaiming your Sex Life After Baby


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