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> Physical Effects after Delivery

Congratulations on your bundle of joy! The most challenging part of pregnancy is over. However, you’ll still have to go through the recovery process, which typically takes a month or so. You’ll also have to gradually settle into your new role as a mom. Here’s several of the physical effects that you can expect postpartum, and sure, some of it may be icky, painful, or simply unattractive, but it’s all temporary; besides, just one look at that tiny face, and you’ll know it’s all worth it.


Pregnancy Belly

Your smooth round belly may have been a source of pride when you were pregnant, and your spouse or kids may have secretly enjoyed caressing and listening to it! Once the baby is born, however, this rounded belly will not magically flatten to its original shape. How nice if it does, isn’t it? During the months leading up to labor, your uterus and the surrounding skin is stretched to make room for the growing baby, and elasticity isn’t exactly our skin’s strongest suit. You may find that the extra pounds you’ve put on during pregnancy won’t melt away immediately, but do not be alarmed, as this is nature’s way of providing energy for breastfeeding.


The good news is, there are things you can do to regain your pre-pregnancy figure. Some basic exercises that target the pelvic floor and stomach muscles are ideal, as well as aerobic workouts and a healthy diet. With time, your body and skin will gradually return to its pre-pregnancy state.


“After giving birth to Lydia, my stomach was still bulging, lumpy and squishy, and I would have to say hello to strong uterine contractions for the first few days. My belly only appeared flat 14 weeks after birth. Though it looked flat, I was left with the marks of motherhood, yeah, those stretch marks appearing on my belly” shared Vanessa Lim, 36, a medical practicioner.


Postpartum bleeding

Bleeding from the vagina is normal and expected after birth. If you’ve done a C-section, then you may experience a heavier level of postpartum bleeding as compared to mothers who delivered through natural birth. This discharge is called lochia, which is basically leftover blood, mucus, and sloughed-off tissue from the uterus lining. The thick lining that grew in the uterus to support your baby during pregnancy will have to be shed off over a period of time.


Bleeding is the heaviest during the first 10 days postpartum, and can feel like one of your heavier periods. This will gradually decrease over time, with the bleeding getting lighter in color and amount, lasting six weeks at maximum.


“I am wearing not one but two enormous maternity pads, inside granny panties, to try and contain the postpartum bleeding. Golf-ball sized blood clots kept coming out”, recounted Cynthia Lee, 35, a financial advisor and mother of two. 


Perineum Soreness

During natural birth, your pelvic floor was stretched to allow the baby to pass through, so you will experience some weakness and soreness around that area. The perineum, which is the region between the vagina and rectum, will be stretched, swollen, bruised and have some tears. However, they should heal quickly. If you underwent an episiotomy, then the healing period may be extended.


Apply a cloth covered ice pack on the area to reduce swelling, and soothe and clean the area by rinsing with warm water. If you do experience incontinence, do not worry, as this is temporary, and is caused by the nerves connected to your pelvic floor muscles being stretched during birth. Pelvic floor exercises can also help your pelvic floor regain its strength, so begin as soon as you’re able to.


Abdominal Cramps

You’ll feel some minor contractions in your uterus, so it contracts back to its pre-pregnancy shape and size. This is caused by the hormone oxytocin, which is also released during breastfeeding. Most of these pains are short-lived, and the noticeable contracts will subside within a week, with the most subtle of contractions disappearing entirely within six weeks.


Sensitive Breasts

It’ll take three to four days for your milk to come in after birth, and you’ll know this when your breasts start to feel full. Directly after birth, your breasts only contain a small amount of milk, known as colostrum. This milk contains antibodies, and will provide all the nourishment your baby needs at the moment. During this stage, your breasts will still be soft.


As your breasts begin to produce milk, they make become sensitive, especially around the nipple areas, and breastfeeding may feel uncomfortable to you. However, this gradually eases over the first few feedings. You could also experiment with different latching positions, which could help with the discomfort.


Baby blues/Mood Swings

After labor, some mothers will experience baby blues – a short-lived period of feeling sad, weepy, with occasional moodiness. This is triggered by the hormonal changes in your body after birth, which is entirely normal. However, there is a societal expectation of new mothers to feel happy and blissful, so many mothers who suffer from this condition do not voice it out.


Baby blues are characterized by increased levels of irritability, mood swings, sadness, anxiety, feelings of dependency, and a lack of concentration, which generally lasts for one to two weeks. If the symptoms persist, or you feel more severe feelings of guilt, helplessness, or the thought of hurting yourself or your baby, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. If so, do seek out your health care provider immediately.


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