Every birth is different, as is the recovery and healing of every mother. It’s important to remember that, while you’re doing everything to look after this new precious life in your arms, you need to take some time to nurture yourself postpartum.
While there is no set time frame to recover from childbirth, the nature of your delivery will often depend on your recovery time. A C-section usually takes longer to heal than a vaginal birth, and some vaginal births where an episiotomy was needed may take a week to 10 days to heal.
Here’s what to expect with regards to your recovery postpartum:
You will experience bleeding, known as lochia, for up to six weeks postpartum. It can vary in volume and colour. Often, just when you think it has resolved, it returns.
Your breast may swell and can become quite engorged with the production of breast milk. It usually takes a week or two for your body to adjust. This can be quite uncomfortable. Regular feeding and warm compressions will relieve this.
If you had a C-section, your wound will take about two weeks, but this varies from woman to woman. Try not to over-exert yourself. Your doctor will advise you on how to care for the wound. The stitches are usually under the skin with a simple dressing covering it. This is usually removed a few days after birth at a follow-up appointment with your doctor. If you had a vaginal birth, you may have a tear or episiotomy wound that needs to heal. This usually takes around a week to 10 days. Ice packs and sitz baths can help to relieve any discomfort.
Your temperature regulation may be out of control as your hormone levels adjust to your postpartum body. Night sweats and flushes are common in the days following delivery. This passes as your body adjusts to your hormones.
“Preggy” brain may have been tough, but sleep deprivation isn’t much better. You may find yourself a little forgetful and distracted in the immediate postpartum period as you adjust to motherhood and lack of sleep.
Some women experience a dip in their mood after having a baby. It’s often a result of hormonal changes and can lead to postpartum depression. It’s important to get help as soon as possible when you notice any of the signs of postnatal depression. Many new moms find it hard to think of anything other than their new baby and this can become all consuming.
It’s advisable to wait six weeks before having sex. It‘s normal to feel a little apprehensive, but this will pass. Take it easy on your postpartum body, as things will eventually go back to normal.
Pippa is a Registered Professional Nurse and trained as a Registered Midwife at Chris Hani Baragwanth Hospital. She has extensive experience in all things baby related with a special interest in preparing couples for the exciting journey of parenthood as well as supporting them in the weeks that follow the birth. She and her husband Richard are the proud parents of Becca age 6 and Tom age 4. Pippa has a comprehensive private clinic service that includes Childbirth Education classes, a Well Baby Clinic including Immunization as well as Post Natal and Lactation support. With over 5 years of running a private clinic facility and raising 2 children Pippa comes with a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience of parenthood.