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Your body after the birth


WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

It is normal to feel sore after giving birth as well as some other changes.

Is it normal to bleed after the birth?

Yes. This discharge of bright red blood, mucus and tissue, known as lochia, is from your healing uterus. It can be heavier than a period for a few days and becomes brownish as it eases off. You may bleed for up to six weeks after the birth or it might stop much sooner. Don't use tampons because you may still be very sore.

If you notice any large clots, feel unwell or feverish, are soaking through more than one maternity pad an hour, or the flow has turned smelly, seek medical advice straight away.

How can I soothe the pain from my episiotomy?

Your stitches should heal in about 10 to 14 days. To speed up the healing process, wash yourself with warm water twice a day and pat dry with a clean towel or thick kitchen roll.

Painkillers will ease your discomfort – check these are safe to take if breast-feeding - and a warm bath can be soothing. You may find sitting on a pillow more comfortable, but tighten your buttocks as you sit down.

It's agony when I pass water. Any tips?

Minor tears and grazes are usually left to heal by themselves. Try trickling cool (or warm) water from a clean bottle between your legs as you pass water, or even go in the shower. The warm water will dilute the urine so it doesn't sting, as will drinking plenty of water every day to keep your urine dilute.

When will my afterpains stop?

Afterpains feel a bit like mild contractions or crampy period pains, and are caused by your womb shrinking back to its pre- pregnancy size. Every woman gets them during the first few days after the birth and they're more noticeable when you're breastfeeding.

Afterpains get stronger with each pregnancy because your womb muscles have been stretched and have to work harder to contract. Ask your midwife, pharmacist or doctor about a suitable painkiller.

My breasts feel heavy and hard. What can I do?

Feeding frequently helps when the milk comes in, three or four days after the birth. If your breasts are so engorged your baby can't latch on, try expressing just enough milk to make it easier, perhaps after a warm bath.

Some women find it helps to place gel pads or even chilled or warmed cabbage leaves inside their bra. If you're not breastfeeding, wear a good support bra and your body will reabsorb the milk.

Is there anything I can do to help my Caesarean scar to heal?

Bathe it daily, gently cleaning the area and drying it well. Wear big, waist-high cotton pants to avoid chafing the scar, and avoid tight clothes. Allowing air to circulate around the stitches will help, so remove your underwear while you're resting.

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