For the first few weeks after delivery, try to sleep whenever you can. Don’t be tempted to use your spare time to catch up on all the things you haven’t had time to do; you need as much rest as possible. You may be at first dismayed to see your body after birth.
Your familiar bump will be gone though; your tummy won’t be completely flat yet. Your breasts will be large, and the tops of your legs will feel heavy. But if you practice your postnatal exercises from the first day after birth, building up gradually, you should soon look and feel better.
After Pains: You may feel cramping pains in your stomach, especially when breast feeding, as the womb contracts back to its pre-pregnant size. This is a good sign that your body is returning to normal. The pain may last several days. What you can do is, if contractions are severe, a mild pain killer such as paracetamol may ease them.
Bladder: It’s normal to pass more water in the first days, as the body looses the extra fluid gained during pregnancy.
What you can do: Urinating may be difficult at first because of soreness, but try to do so as soon as possible after the birth. If you have stitches, try pouring warm water over them as you pass urine to stop your skin stinging.
Bleeding: You may have vaginal bleeding for anything from two to six weeks. This usually stops more quickly if you are breast feeding. The bright -red discharge is heavy at first, but over the next few days it gets less, and gradually becomes brownish. Often the discharge continues until the first menstrual period.
What to do: wear sanitary pads to catch the flow; don’t use internal tampons, they can cause infection.
Bowels: You may not need to empty your bowels for a day or two after the birth.
What to do: Get up and mobile as soon as you can: start walking around; it will start your bowel movements. Drink plenty of water and eat high-fiber foods to stimulate your bowels. When you want to open your bowels, do so at once, but don’t strain or push. It’s most unlikely that any stitches will open when you move your bowel.
Stitches: These may be very sore for a day or two. Most dissolve in about a week, external ones may fall out.
What to do: The following suggestions will help:
1. Practice pelvic floor exercises as soon as possible after birth to speed up healing.
2. Keep stitches clean by relaxing in a warm bath. Dry the area thoroughly afterwards.
3. Soothe soreness by applying an ice-pack to the area.