Over the course of a pregnancy, your body changes a lot! But even after giving birth, your body will continue to change.

Here are a few changes you may notice:

  • Perineum soreness – There may be pain and soreness in the area between your vagina and rectum because this area can stretch, and sometimes tear, during labor and vaginal birth. Try placing a cold ice pack over the area, sitting on a pillow, or soaking in a warm bath.
  • After-birth cramps – This abdominal pain can be produced as the uterus shrinks back to its regular size. Speak with your provider about possible over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Vaginal discharge – Discharge may contain blood for a few days but it will thin and lighten as time passes. Wear sanitary pads until it fully resolves in a few weeks.
  • Breast tenderness and swelling – As the breasts fill with milk, they can engorge and harden. Some milk ducts may become obstructed. You may also experience nipple pain. It is important to speak with your provider and a lactation consultant about breastfeeding and breast changes. Try a warm bath or creams to improve breast tenderness and nipple pain.
  • Swelling – Both during and after pregnancy, your hands, feet, and face may swell. Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day and elevate your feet.
  • Hemorrhoids – These swollen veins around the anus can be painful. Try soaking in a warm bath, applying over-the-counter creams, eating high-fiber food, and drinking plenty of water. Try not to strain while using the bathroom.
  • Urinary changes – Women can experience a variety of changes including painful urination, difficulty urinating, and uncontrollable urination. Kegel exercises can be performed to strengthen the pelvic muscles for urination.
  • Constipation – It may take a few days to have a bowel movement due to weakened muscles or the use of pain medication. Eat plenty of high-fiber foods, drink plenty of water, engage in light exercise, or speak with your provider about trying a stool softener.
  • Stretch marks – While some stretch marks may not fully disappear, creams and lotions can help to reduce itching.
  • Thin hair – During pregnancy, hair often thickens. After pregnancy, hair can thin or even fall out. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and try a postnatal vitamin.
  • As your body continues to change and heal, it is recommended to wait 4-6 weeks before engaging in sexual intercourse. Speak with your provider about postpartum birth control options.
  • Slowly begin to incorporate exercise into your daily life. Light exercises, such as walking and swimming, are good to start with.
  • In addition to physical changes, you may experience emotional changes, such as stress, anxiety, or feeling down. It is important to seek out support from family and friends, to take time for yourself, and to get as much sleep as you can.

Speak with your provider before trying any over-the-counter medications or creams. It is recommended to schedule a postpartum checkup within the first 6 weeks of birth to ensure you are recovering well from labor and birth.

All information is provided by:

March of Dimes