It will take about six weeks for your body to recover from childbirth and return to its normal shape. It is important to focus on rest and a healthy diet during this time.
Regular exercise can help with your recovery, making you feel stronger and improving your mood. However, it is usually best to wait until after your two-week check to start anything too strenuous.
Vaginal discharge is the fluid made by glands inside your cervix and vagina. It serves an important housekeeping function, carrying away old cells and bacteria to keep the area clean. It can vary in amount, odor and color (from clear to milky white-ish), depending on the time of your menstrual cycle, when you’re ovulating or breastfeeding, and when you’re sexually aroused.
If you had a C-section, you might bleed for several weeks following your delivery. It’s also normal to have vaginal bleeding after a natural birth. This is called postpartum bleeding or lochia, and it consists of blood and tissue that lined your uterus during pregnancy. It’s usually heavy and bright red at first, then gets lighter in flow and color and stops after several weeks.
A change in your vaginal discharge can also be a sign of infection, like yeast or bacterial vaginosis. This is common for new moms and can be treated with antibiotics. If your discharge is yellow, green or clumpy, has a bad odor, or you’re experiencing pelvic pain, contact your healthcare provider immediately. They may want to swab your vagina or cervix and send it for testing to find the cause of the problem. They can prescribe you the proper treatment based on the results of your tests. They’ll likely recommend you rest and take it easy until your discharge stops.
Swelling is something most women don’t expect, but it can be a sign that your body is recovering. It may take a few weeks for this to go away, as your body eliminates the extra fluid through urine and sweat. To help reduce swelling, try to rest with your legs raised whenever you can and drink plenty of water.
It’s also common for your breasts to swell as they start producing colostrum – the first milk for your baby. This can feel tight and uncomfortable, but it’s harmless. You can help reduce swollen breasts by wearing loose clothing, eating a healthy diet and drinking lots of water.
If you had a C-section, your doctor or midwife will talk to you about how to manage swelling in the area of your incision. It is important to follow their advice to make sure the scar heals correctly and that there is no infection.
Having a baby is full of changes to your body and emotions. Don’t worry if some aspects of your recovery take longer than others, but be sure to contact your health care provider or call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 if you have any concerns, especially thoughts of harming yourself or the baby. If this happens, please get in touch with a counsellor or call Lifeline on 13 11 14. You can find a list of support services in our factsheets.
Your lower gastrointestinal tract — including your colon and rectum — absorbs water to change digested food into stool. Sometimes, the body absorbs too much, which can make stool hard, dry and difficult to pass. Constipation can also be a sign that the intestines are not working correctly, such as after a c-section or if you have a bowel condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It’s normal for the frequency of bowel movements to vary. Some people poop daily, while others only have one or two bowel movements a week. Your doctor can determine if your constipation is due to a medical problem by asking about your health history and doing a physical exam. He or she will check your abdomen for swelling and tenderness, as well as the anal sphincters to see if you have pain when you poop. They may also perform a digital rectal exam to see if the area is soft or blocked and may order an abdominal x-ray, as well.
For babies, your provider will likely prescribe a laxative to help with constipation. Some laxatives work by drawing fluid into the bowel, while others stimulate contractions in your colon. Your provider may recommend senna or bisacodyl, as they are safe for use in infants. Unless your health care provider says to stop, your child should continue taking these medications until toilet training is complete and they are asymptomatic for an additional month.
Pain or burning when you urinate
Your body goes through a lot during pregnancy and childbirth. This can cause some discomfort and your pelvic floor muscles to weaken. This can lead to leaking urine or bowel movements and can be a sign of a urinary tract infection. Talk to your healthcare provider about using a squirt bottle of warm water (usually provided at the hospital) on your perineum after peeing and during bowel movements. This can help relieve this pain and prevent further irritation.
This urinating issue may go away as your pelvic floor heals. If it persists, speak to your healthcare provider about exercises or Kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. They may also recommend pelvic floor physical therapy.
Infections after birth are rare, but you should be aware of the symptoms so you can seek medical attention if necessary. If you have a fever, foul-smelling discharge or are feeling generally unwell, get in touch with your GP or midwife immediately as this could be a sign of sepsis, which is a serious life-threatening condition.
If you have a Cesarean section, you will likely be given antibiotics before your operation to reduce your risk of developing an infection after surgery. To prevent infections, make sure you use a sanitary towel and change it often, wash your hands regularly especially after going to the toilet and before eating and drink plenty of fluids. Postnatal recovery