My Mummy's Milk

BODY CHANGES AFTER BIRTH

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Body changes after birth


Life with a new baby can be hectic.  You will be very busy getting to know and looking after your baby – but it is also important to make time to think about yourself – and get plenty of rest !  Your body changes after birth and it is crucial that you recognise these changes and manage them effectively.
mum kissing baby

 
Afterpains

Almost as soon as you have given birth, your uterus will begin to shrink. As it contracts you could feel a cramp-like pain, which may be worse while breastfeeding, as the uterus is responding to oxytocin released during this time.  Although it takes up to six weeks to return to its normal size, pain intensity should decrease after a day or two.

 

Baby Blues

Around half of mothers experience the ‘baby blues’ after giving birth.  It is normal to feel weepy and anxious, but this mild depression usually lasts only a few days, or even hours.  You may find it helpful to discuss these feelings with someone close to you, who can reassure you that this is common, and will not last.


Postnatal Depression

However, if you still feel the same after a few days, you must see a doctor.  One in ten mothers suffers from postnatal depression, and it is vital to understand that it is not a failing on your part, but an illness.  Many sufferers feel guilty that they do not seem to be coping, and hope that the feeling will ‘go away’ – but postnatal depression needs to be treated so as not to harm the relationship between you and your baby and partner. 


pelvic floor Exercises

During the latter stages of pregnancy your pelvic floor will have been under huge strain.  You will also find that your muscles feel numb for a few days, as they will have stretched during the birth.  It is important to practice pelvic floor exercises (your midwife should explain how to do these), to promote healing of damaged soft tissue and to help with perineal pain.


Fluid retention

You may also find that you are weeing more than normal, as the extra fluid your body stored while you were pregnant is no longer needed.  You may sweat a little more, too, for the same reason.  For a short period of time, your ankles and feet may appear swollen, perhaps more than when pregnant.  This is completely normal but, even though your body is working hard to get rid of excess fluid, it is still important to drink lots of water to maintain a healthy bladder.
Further information:
The Association for Postnatal Illness: www.apni.org