During the first few weeks, you will spend most of your time feeding, diapering and comforting your baby. You naturally develop an emotional bond with your child.
But at the same time, soon you will notice or experience new changes in your body, too. As your body starts to recover and adjust to its new role, many things happen to your body.
Here’s what’s happening to your body during that first month postpartum
1. Post-Labor Pains
With all the pushing and contortions of labor, it is very natural to feel washed out, tired and even painful. Pain can be felt in the ribs, abdomen and back as well as near your private parts.
After delivery, the uterus is shrinking back to its normal size and position, and this causes intense pain as it contracts down. After childbirth, the uterus is hard and weighs about 2½ pounds, but it goes down to just 2 ounces after about six weeks.
The pain feels like mild labor contractions, and often happens during breastfeeding. This is mainly due to the release of the hormone oxytocin, which encourages your uterus to contract.
The pain will be greater if you have given birth by cesarean, which is a serious, major surgery. Recovering from a cesarean takes more time.
The tearing during vaginal birth also will cause a lot of discomfort during the healing process.
The healing process varies from person to person, but in general, the pain or discomfort becomes more manageable about one to two weeks after giving birth. By six weeks, the pain will vanish completely.
To relieve pain and soreness:
- Lie down as much as you can, so that the pressure is taken off your bottom.
- Put a cold compress on your perineum to reduce pain.
- Rest whenever you feel the need, and give your body time to heal.
- Continue having a warm bath daily for at least a month.
- Start doing pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible.
If the cramping or pain persists, call your doctor immediately. It could be a sign of infection or another problem that requires medical attention.
2. Painful Breasts
Painful, large and swollen breasts are something that most new moms have to deal with.
Initially after childbirth, the breasts are soft as they contain a little colostrum, the rich, creamy first milk full of antibodies that help protect your baby from infection. However, after a few days as the breasts start making milk, they may feel hot, swollen and tender.
During this stage, the nipples become very sensitive and feeding may become extremely uncomfortable. This may even contribute to early weaning.
However, at this time, breast milk production tends to operate on a supply-and-demand system. So, try to breastfeed more and, with time, the discomfort and pain will be gone.
A 2015 study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal found that women who received intravenous fluids during labor had higher levels of breast edema postpartum and rated their breasts as firmer and more tender than women who did not receive intravenous fluids.
If you have a fever and your breasts are red and warm, don’t ignore it. This can be a sign of mastitis and breast abscess, both painful infections that need to be treated with antibiotics.