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4 Ways Your Body Tells You It's Different After Giving Birth
PHOTO BY @tonefotografia/iStock
  • Every time someone asks me how childbirth went for me, I always say it felt like getting mauled by 6 strong men and being left for dead. I’m not exaggerating! After being in labor for 24 hours and not fully dilating, I had to be cut open still. When I woke up in the recovery room, I felt so sore all over I thought the bed was going to be my home for the next two weeks.

    Okay, maybe I just had a really low tolerance for pain. After being discharged from the hospital, I was looking forward to going home with my baby, thinking the hard part is over. It wasn’t. I had no idea that getting some semblance of normalcy was going to take much longer than I had expected.  

    Robert James Gallo, M.D., an ob-gyn at Hackensack University Medical Center told Fit Pregnancy, “Most women find that their postpartum complaints resolve within two to three months.”

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    What body changes do women who just gave birth have to deal with?

    You’re constipated / are afraid to poop

    Pregnancy signals your lifelong bond with poop: you become hyper-aware of it while you’re on the family way, dread doing it accidentally while you’re pushing the baby out, and will see lots (and all colors of it) as you raise your child. And now, as a woman who just gave birth, you can’t seem to “go” — either there’s no urge, or you don’t want to try because you’re afraid your CS stitches will pop. What to do?

    First, know that your body has been through a lot of changes, and it may take days after birth before you could actually move your bowels. With your ab muscles weakened and your body still recovering from medications, you’re going to have to be more patient. 

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    Give your system a boost by staying hydrated and getting your daily dose of fiber through your diet. And when you finally  feel like going, don’t let the stitches worry you. If needed, your doctor could prescribe a laxative to help bowel movement. 

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    You’re bleeding heavily postpartum

    And here you thought you won’t be getting your period until a few months after delivery! Well, technically, that is not yet your period. It’s lochia, which normally comes following childbirth, whether you had it vaginally or through Cesarean section. The bright red vaginal discharge is made up of blood, mucus, and tissue from your uterus.

    In a few weeks, the amount of discharge should lessen gradually, and the color should also change from red to pink or brown. If this bothers you, know that breastfeeding your baby will actually help. “Nursing helps the uterus contract, which, in turn, decreases the blood flow,” says Eileen Ehudin Beard, a nurse-midwife and family nurse in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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    Do tell your doctor if the color of your discharge becomes bright red again after it has changed to pink or brown, or if you experience abdominal pain, which could signal a problem. “It’s okay to pass small clots during the first week after delivery, but passing multiple big clots could be a sign that you’re hemorrhaging,” says Beard.

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    You can’t sit comfortably

    This is a problem especially for moms who gave birth vaginally and who have an episiotomy (a surgical cut between the anus and the vagina). Sitting down for long period of time understandably puts pressure on the sore part, so you want to avoid that, but at the same time you want to rest your legs. What to do?

    To reduce the inflammation, apply an ice pack (sit on it) for a few minutes a day. A donut pillow may help, too. And avoid anything that might cause constipation. 

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    You pee by accident, or when you sneeze

    Involuntary peeing during a sneeze, a cough, or from laughing is called urinary stress incontinence. This is quite normal, because the pelvic floor is put under too much stress and may weaken after pregnancy. To get your pelvic floor muscles back into shape, do these Kegel exercises: while peeing, use your pelvic muscles to stop the stream of urine midway and then start again. By doing this, you are training the relevant muscles to become stronger.

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