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Things You Don't Expect After Giving Birth

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When you are expecting, you often plan for the time leading up to the birth – who your doctor will be, your birth plan, even getting the nursery ready. But what about after giving birth? We often don't talk about what to expect in the days, weeks or even months after giving birth. Here are 15 things you might not expect after giving birth:

  1. It is common to experience vaginal tearing – First-time moms who give birth vaginally have a 95 percent chance of experiencing some form of tearing during delivery. Stitches will take seven to 10 days to heal, and you may continue to experience soreness for a few months afterward. It may also be challenging to sit cross-legged.
  2. Scar pain from C-sections is normal – If you have a C-section, you may experience scar pain for months after birth. It will be very tender, and you will want to avoid anything touching it. Compression bands can help with stability. Cleaning your incision/scar is also very important so that it does not become infected.
  3. You will bleed after giving birth – Whether you have a vaginal birth or a C-section, you will experience vaginal bleeding, which typically lasts four to six weeks. It is completely normal for it to look like large blood clots. Disposable underwear or pads will be your friend because you cannot use tampons during this time.
  4. You will experience after-birth contractions – After birth, your uterus will contract back to its original size. This is often called "afterpains," but they feel very much like contractions. They typically occur when you are breastfeeding your baby.
  5. You may pee yourself – After giving birth, your pelvic floor may not be a strong as it was before, so if you cough or sneeze, you may pee yourself a little. Start doing pelvic floor exercises to build up your muscles again.
  6. Going to the bathroom will be difficult – In the weeks following the birth, whether vaginal or C-section, it may be hard to poop because of the added pressure and strain. Take stool softeners to help with strain, and make sure you are staying well hydrated to help with constipation.
  7. Your hair will fall out – It is normal for your hair to thin in the first two to six months after giving birth. During pregnancy, your body creates higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can cause hair to remain in an ongoing stage of growth. When you give birth, these hormone levels even out, which causes your hair to thin. You may see larger clumps come out, especially while showering, but most women see their hair return to its normal fullness by their child's first birthday.
  8. Your breasts will leak – Once your milk comes in, be prepared to experience some leakage. There is a reason you put the bra pads on your baby registry; you will use them even if you don't breastfeed.
  9. Your breasts may feel sore – If you skip feeding or are delayed in pumping, your breast will fill with milk and become enlarged and hard. This can also make them feel sore and be uncomfortable.
  10. You are constantly thirsty – Because your body is producing milk, you will often feel thirsty. It is important to stay well hydrated to ensure you are producing enough milk.
  11. Clothes will not magically fit – Don't stress about fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes after delivering. Give yourself some grace!
  12. It is normal to cry – your emotions may be hypersensitive after birth, and it is completely normal for you to cry. Many women will also experience baby blues. However, if these feelings of sadness don't dissipate after two weeks, you should talk to your OB/GYN.
  13. You may develop hemorrhoids – A lot of women get them during pregnancy, but they can also develop from the strain and pushing during delivery. Hemorrhoids can cause pain and bleed after a bowel movement, and they also itch. Hemorrhoids should shrink over time, but if not, contact your doctor.
  14. Babies can make strange noises – After becoming a mom, you will be hyper-aware of every noise or movement your baby makes. You may spend the first few weeks jumping up, making sure that they are fine, but rest assured, these are often just tiny noises they make.
  15. Sex may be uncomfortable – It is recommended to wait a minimum of four to six weeks after giving birth to have sex again to give your body time to heal. But the exact timing is completely up to you and when you are comfortable. Hormonal changes might leave your vagina dry and tender, and you might experience some pain during sex if you're healing from an episiotomy or vaginal tears.

You can expect to have some discomfort after pregnancy. But you know your body best. When you are recovering from delivery, if you feel that something is not right with you or with your baby, reach out to your OB/GYN.

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