You are probably expecting to be pretty tired and probably quite emotional following the birth of your baby. But, there are also some unexpected physical changes that occur that you should be aware of. Below are some conditions in which you may find yourself.
Jittery feelings, the chills, or shaking are very common during labor and/or immediately after delivery. These sensations are thought to be caused by the release of endorphins, changes in body temperature or a reaction to the anesthesia. Luckily they don’t tend to stick around and will more than likely disappear about half an hour after delivery.1
After delivery, your uterus also has to both expel the placenta and shrink from the size of a watermelon to the size of a cantaloupe. This is achieved through your uterus contracting, helped along by an injection of oxytocin. Your doctor, nurse, or midwife might try to help this process along by massaging your belly every 15 minutes after delivery for around 2 hours. This can be quite painful, especially if you haven’t received an epidural.1
You may also experience a complication called “primary postpartum hemorrhage”. This can occur if your womb doesn’t contract strongly enough after birth or if part of the placenta has been left inside the uterus. Luckily, this complication is very rare and the injection of oxytocin helps to prevent it from occurring.2
Minor tearing is very common during birth so, if this happens to you, you might need stiches. Another after-effect of the birth is swelling of your vaginal area, sometimes to quite a shocking degree – sometimes the labia can triple in size! This is more common in first-time moms and also in women who have been pushing for a long time. Ice packs are the best solution for this situation as they numb the discomfort and reduce the swelling.
Another swelling you might experience are piles (also called hemorrhoids). These are very common after birth but usually disappear after a few days. Eat plenty of food with fiber and drink lots of water to avoid straining as this will only make them worse. If the piles are very uncomfortable, your midwife or nurse might be able to give you some ointment to soothe them.3
After the birth, you will experience bleeding from your vagina and this can be quite heavy at first. So, you will need super-absorbent sanitary towels and these need to be regularly changed. Tampons can cause infection so it is best to avoid these until your six-week postnatal check up. Notify the nurse or midwife if you are regularly losing blood in large clots as this may require treatment.4
You might experience a night sweat within the first 24 hours of giving birth – these actually happen for the first few weeks after delivery and are due to the massive drop in estrogen level that occurs in your body, leading to changes in regulating your body temperature.1
In summary, your body goes through a lot of changes immediately after birth and not all of them are pleasant. However, eventually they resolve and you will have a body that is pretty much back to normal and a beautiful baby to cherish for the rest of your life!