You may experience a wide range of emotions during the postpartum period. You’ll feel joy and happiness that your little one has finally arrived. But many new moms experience the “baby blues.” You may cry more easily, be more irritable, and have feelings of sadness. This is most likely due to changes in hormones after delivery.
The baby blues usually peak 3-5 days after delivery and end by about the 10th day after your baby’s birth. If your symptoms do not go away or if they get worse, you may be experiencing postpartum depression. Make sure you talk to your health care provider.
Vaginal bleeding and discharge
After you give birth you will have vaginal bleeding and discharge. This is called lochia. After your baby is born, your body gets rid of the blood and tissue that was inside of the uterus. For the first four or five days, it’s heavy, bright red and will probably contain blood clots.
Over time, the amount of blood lessens and the color changes from bright red to pink to brown to yellow. It is normal to have discharge for up to 6 weeks after birth. You’ll experience this discharge even if you had a C-section. Use sanitary pads (not tampons) until the discharge stops.
You may be surprised (and disappointed) to learn that the weight you gained during pregnancy doesn’t magically disappear at birth. It takes a while for your uterus to shrink down after it expanded to accommodate your baby. So you may still look pregnant after you give birth. This is completely normal.
With your provider’s OK, you can start light exercises as soon as you feel up to it. Be patient and take things slowly. It can take several months or longer to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Walking is a great activity for new moms. You’ll also want to make sure you’re eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water. Both of these things will make you feel better overall and help your postpartum recovery.
Getting pregnant again
It is possible to conceive during the postpartum period. If you are not breastfeeding, your period may return 6-8 weeks after giving birth. If you are breastfeeding, it may take longer.
You may ovulate (release an egg) before you get your period. This means you could get pregnant, whether you’re breastfeeding or not. It’s best to wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again to give your body the time it needs to heal and recover. Getting pregnant again too soon increases your next baby’s chances of being born premature or at a low birthweight. Talk to your provider about when it is best for you to try to get pregnant again.
While most women are healthy after birth, some do experience complications. You can read about postpartum warning signs here. Trust your instincts—if you feel like something is wrong, call your provider. Most postpartum problems can be easily treated if identified early.
These are just a few of the changes that your body goes through after your baby is born. You can read more on our website.
Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.