Preparing yourself for post-birth changes
Being pregnant and giving birth can both have a huge impact on you physically and emotionally. It can take time for you to get your energy back and feel ‘normal’ again. To help you be more prepared, find out about some of the things you may experience.
Your breasts will feel soft to begin with because, during the first few days, your newborn only needs a little colostrum (the nutritious milk that’s full of important protective antibodies). Once your milk comes in, after three or four days, your breasts will feel firmer and may be hot and tender as they adjust to the new supply.
“During the first week or two, I was sore, tired and having trouble breastfeeding. Luckily, my husband and mum took care of all the chores and gave me time to rest.”
Your nether regions
Unsurprisingly, you may feel sore, bruised or swollen around your vagina after giving birth.
If you have had stitches, healing time can vary depending on the type of stitches. Perineal stitches can take between two and four weeks to heal, whereas caesarean stitches generally take around six weeks.
There will also be some discharge called lochia. It may start off blood-coloured, but becomes lighter and browner, slowly changing to pale pink over the following two to six weeks.
You may experience a weaker bladder too, so tone up your internal muscles with regular pelvic floor exercises.
Postnatal depression (PND) is thought to affect around 1 in 10 mums and it can take several months for symptoms to appear. It can be triggered by a traumatic birth, sleep deprivation or the sometimes overwhelming responsibilities of motherhood. Symptoms vary widely but include feeling very low, anxiety, panic attacks, irrational thoughts or feeling numb and empty. Talking therapy is usually the first form of treatment offered, but if you are given medication, you should still be able to breastfeed safely. If you have symptoms, seek support as soon as possible. Speak to your midwife. You are not alone and there’s plenty of help available.
If you do have any concerns or question, please consult your doctor for proper advice.
Stock up on paracetamol and ibuprofen
Cook and freeze a few days’ worth of nutritious meals
Get a ‘doughnut’ cushion, to help you sit more comfortably
Practice pelvic floor exercises
Buy comfortable sanitary towels
Your first trimester pregnancy is often spent getting used to the idea that you’re expecting a baby and reading up on all the changes that your body is going through and are yet to come.
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