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Becoming a mother is one of the best feelings in the world. Giving birth to a child has to be the happiest moment for the parents and the entire family.
When we talk about pregnancy, there are a lot of difficulties and hardships that come along with the joy and excitement. Everyone gets worried about how to take care of the child or what to eat to provide complete nutrition to the child. Even when it comes to delivery, women get confused. Some prefer vaginal delivery, while some prefer cesarean delivery.
Irrespective of the method of giving birth, one common question that has been seen being asked frequently by most women is how long does it take to heal after giving birth? The postpartum healing process might take some time, though the period depends from person to person.
If you are worried about your postpartum recovery or healing process, then worry no more; you are at the right place.
How Long Does It Take To Heal After Giving Birth
Like pregnancy, the postpartum period can also be difficult for some women. It is completely dependent on the person. Whether you had an easy or complicated pregnancy, postpartum recovery might take a few weeks. It might be quicker for some women as compared to others.
While recovering, you might be the victim of some afterbirth symptoms like sore nipples, perineal pain, back pain, postpartum bleeding, and many other symptoms. Many women also face problems like leaky breasts and severe back pain. Apart from these, you can also feel pain in various parts of your body, but there is nothing to worry about. All these symptoms are normal and happen to most women after giving birth. Also, it is normal to be on pain relief medication after delivery.
In the case of vaginal birth, the healing process takes more time. If you did not tear, you might get healed within three weeks after giving birth. But this is not the same in the case of a perineal tear or episiotomy. In these cases, your body might take up to six weeks to heal after giving birth vaginally.
In the case of a C-section, you will have to spend your first week or at least three to four days of your postpartum period in the hospital. It takes around six weeks to get healed completely and return to life in the normal rhythm. The healing is completely based on whether or how long you pushed the baby. Some women also experience perineal pain.
How Much Bleeding To Expect After Giving Birth
Postpartum bleeding is one of the most common things after giving birth. You can face postpartum bleeding even up to six weeks after giving birth. The bleeding is generally caused by excess blood, tissue, and mucus that acts as a protective layer for the baby. It generally stays in the inner lining of the uterus.
Bleeding post-delivery is nothing but a very heavy period. You will experience heavy to medium flow during the first few days of the cycle. After the 10th day, the color of the blood will keep changing from red to pink. It will then turn brown and eventually turn yellowish-white.
Many women spot excessive blood clots in their blood, and some even bleed a pad every hour. If you must change more than one pad every hour, do not delay contacting your doctor. It is best to keep sanitary pads handy during this time as tampons, and menstrual cups will not be of great help.
Symptoms To Expect During Postpartum Recovery Timeline
After giving birth, it is very common that you will be indulged in keeping the baby happy and taking care of the child. But it is also very important to take care of your own body. Taking care of your postpartum body will help you heal faster.
Along with taking care of the new baby, make sure to eat food on time and get proper rest. You will also have to pay attention to your body during this time. It is normal to see unexpected changes in your body during this time, but there is nothing to worry about. You will have to look after your body’s changes during the postpartum recovery process.
Listed below are some of the symptoms you may notice during postpartum recovery.
1. Abdominal Pain
One of the most common symptoms that you will experience after giving birth is severe feelings of pain in the abdomen. When you are pregnant, your uterus expands to a great extent. When it tends to shrink back after giving birth to the child, women generally face this pain, also known as “afterpains’.
These pains tend to increase when your baby starts to have breast milk. It is so because when you start breastfeeding the baby, it stimulates a chemical in the body that helps in uterine contractions.
For many women, the abdominal pain decreases after heating pads or placing a hot water bottle on the area. Some also take pain relief medication to ease their pain. Even after trying these methods, if the pain remains the same, do not delay consulting a doctor.
2. Baby Blues
The feeling of giving birth is amazing. You feel excited, happy, and joyful to become a new mom. But due to hormonal shifts, many women tend to feel sad, confused, and irritated after a few days of the baby’s arrival. It is known as “baby blues.”
If it is neglected for quite some time, you might also be a victim of postpartum depression. In this case, confiding in a friend or family member is advised. They will help you to get over this symptom very easily.
Again one of the very common symptoms after giving birth is constipation. It happens in most women because of the continuous medication that they are provided. In some women, constipation occurs because of the fear they have consciously or unconsciously. Accidental bowel leakage is also very common during postpartum recovery.
Eating healthy and drinking lots of water can reduce constipation to a great extent. Make sure to eat fiber-rich food to get relief from constipation. You can also drink plenty of warm water to stabilize your bowel movements.
In case of severe constipation, please consult a doctor.
Postpartum hemorrhoids are when the mother experiences swollen veins in the rectum during pregnancy. Women who don’t develop this condition during the pregnancy period might develop it during the time of normal delivery.
The main problems of this condition are that you might experience bleeding and pain in the rectum during bowel movement. The area might also get itchy at times. In case of difficulty in bowel movement, you can consult a doctor and opt for a stool softener.
For getting relief from the pain, try applying witch hazel. The witch hazel will help in shrinking the hemorrhoids over time. It is most effective when it is used cold.
5. Hormonal Changes
It is very natural to experience hormonal changes after giving birth. Many women experience abnormal mood swings in the weeks after delivery. Some also suffer from excessive sweating. Always remember to check if the sweating is accompanied by a fever or not. If it is accompanied by fever, it indicates infection.
New moms also experience postpartum hair loss due to heavy hormonal changes. But there is nothing to worry about because this is temporary. You will gain back your hair once your estrogen level increases.
6. Perineum Soreness
The perineum is referred to as the place that lies between the vagina and the anus. Most of the time, the perineum tears during childbirth. In other cases, the doctor might sometimes make a small cut in this area to widen the vaginal opening. You might still experience perineum soreness if both did not occur after vaginal birth.
The perineal pain and discomfort may last for several weeks after giving birth. It recovers with time when you sit on an ice pack for 10 minutes at various intervals of the day. After using the washroom, you can use a squirt bottle to rinse the perineum with warm water. Continue this process until you notice a relief in that area.
It is best to consult a doctor in case of any infection in the perineum region or if no improvement is noticed over days.
7. Sore Breats And Sore Nipple
Sore nipples and sore breasts are among the most common issues after breastfeeding. If your baby is not latching properly, you might experience soreness for more days. In this case, you can try changing positions while feeding your baby, or you can take the help of a lactation consultant known as a breastfeeding expert. Keep checking your nipples o see whether they have developed painful cracks. You should consult a breastfeeding expert soon in this case.
According to research, all newborn babies, other than exceptions, should be fed breast milk for the first six months. Later the baby should feed other complementary foods along with the mother’s breastmilk.
If your baby is born by the cesarean method, commonly known as C-section, the healing of the stitches depends from person to person. The stitches in the skin should heal within 5-10 days, whereas the stitches in the underlying muscles will take longer to heal.
If you notice any infections on the outer stitches, make sure to consult a doctor at the earliest. The signs of infection can be itching, weeping pus, swelling, or even redness.
If you have a stitch in your perineum due to tearing or cutting, it might take 7-10 days to heal. It is very important to note that every time you use the toilet, wash the switched area of your perineum with warm water or take a warm bath and pat it dry immediately to avoid the build-up of germs and bacteria. Never rub or wipe the area with toilet paper or tissue, as this might irritate the skin.
9. Vaginal Bleeding And Vaginal Discharge
It is very common to experience vaginal bleeding and vaginal discharge after giving birth. Women who gave birth through C-sections also face this problem, along with the ones who gave birth vaginally.
The blood flow will be like the regular periods, only much heavier. For the first 10 days, the flow is going to remain heavy. It will slowly decrease, but you can still experience spotting and light bleeding for the next six weeks postpartum. You might also experience losing clots of blood during this period. If the clot is more than a quarter, do not delay consulting your doctor.
Postpartum bleeding is when the body eliminates the extra blood and tissues to keep the baby nourished and safe. Using sanitary napkins during this time is advised, as using a tampon might irritate the vagina and cause infections.
10. Water Retention
Some women desire to get rid of the swelling as soon as the baby is born. It does not happen that way. The body retains the water for quite some time, even after delivery. The increased progesterone count in the body keeps the hands, legs, feet and some other parts swelled up for a week after delivering the child. You may experience aches and pains in those body parts during postpartum edema (swelling).
11. Weight Loss
Weight loss is dependent on the amount of weight that you have gained during pregnancy. It is also dependent from person to person. Losing weight immediately after giving birth to the baby is not possible.
Some women experience weight loss by breastfeeding their baby, though it does not apply to all. Returning to exercising and yoga will help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy. The only thing to remember during this time is to be patient, as it might take some time.
Speed Up The Postpartum Recovery Process
You can speed up the recovery process after you have given birth to your child. You can follow the advice mentioned below to accelerate the postpartum recovery process.
1. Heal Your Perineum Faster
You can heal your perineum faster by applying an ice pad every couple of hours in the first 24 hours after giving birth. Do not forget to wash the area with hot water before to after peeing. It will ensure that the skin doesn’t get irritated by the pee. You can also go for a sitz bath to help ease the pain greatly.
2. Take Care Of The C-Section Scar
You can take proper care of your C-section scar by gently cleaning it with soap and water every day. After cleaning it, dry it with a clean and dry towel, and then go for an antiseptic ointment.
Ask your doctor whether to keep the scar open or expose it to air. Until recovered, avoid carrying heavy objects and also avoid exercising.
3. Take Care Of The Aches And Pains
Weeks postpartum can be stressful as women generally suffer from severe aches and pains. If you feel pain after pushing the baby out, try taking acetaminophen.
You can also opt for a warm bath and full body massages to relax and relieve the pain.
4. Maintain A Proper Diet
You might face some problems with bowel movements after pregnancy. Please do not force the bowel movement as it can cause pain and make you feel uneasy. The biggest advice for you to follow is to let things be as it is.
Rather, maintain a proper diet to stay regular. You can include fiber-rich food in your diet to help you in this process. If nothing works, then you can go for a mild stool softener.
5. Do Not Forget To Do Your Kegels
If you want to maintain a healthy sex life with your partner after pregnancy, do not forget to do your kegel exercises. It is commonly known as the pelvic floor exercises that help relax and contract the pelvic muscles.
It also helps in resolving postpartum urinary incontinence.
6. Be Gentle With Your Breasts
You might feel discomfort in your breast once you start breastfeeding your kids. If your breasts get achy over time, you can apply ice packs, use a warm compress or go for a gentle massage.
Wear comfortable nursing bras and let your breasts air after every breastfeeding session. You can also apply a lanolin cream as it helps in treating cracked nipples.
7. Go For Regular Doctor Checkups
Even when you have delivered the baby, it is important to keep in regular contact with your doctor. They will guide you through many things apart from physical problems. You can also consult your doctor on how to be a good new mom.
A postpartum checkup is necessary as it helps recover at a higher rate. In case of any difficulty breathing, fever, or infection, do not delay contacting your doctor, as he is the best person to guide you through this.
Postpartum Recovery Checklist
Even when you have given birth to your baby, there are certain things that you should keep handy. Keeping these things ready will help you heal faster and cause less pain and discomfort.
Following is a checklist of all the items you should keep ready for a speedy postpartum recovery.
Acetaminophen – It helps ease perineal pain and other aches in the body.
Ice pack helps to soothe the perineum region and provide a calm sensation.
Maxi pads – Best pads to use during postpartum blood loss.
Witch hazel pads – Often used with ice packs to help in reducing the pain.
Cotton underpants – These provide comfort during heavy bleeding days.
Squirt bottle – It is one of the most important things to keep handy after pregnancy. It is used to wash the perineum region before and after peeing to prevent infection and bacteria.
Sitz bath – It is specially designed so women can sit and ease the perineal pain.
Nursing pads – These help in preventing leaky breasts from breastfeeding.
Lanolin – Prevents rough and cracked nipples.
Heating pad – It helps reduce the pain and aches in various body parts after delivery.
All About Postpartum Depression
No doubt giving birth is the best feeling for new moms. You cannot describe the feeling of raising a human inside you and bringing the baby into this world. Amid all the happiness, some women face postpartum depression because of the hormonal changes during this time. Some common symptoms are feeling sad, lacking energy, feeling worthless, anxious, and alone.
Experiencing these symptoms for some time after the delivery is normal, but if you tend to experience them for a few weeks after delivery, it is also suggested to consult the doctor.
The postpartum period is exciting as well as challenging. Please do not feel overwhelmed or ashamed during this time, as it is normal. But if you take care of your physical and mental health, you are going to overcome postpartum depression at a faster rate.
Take proper rest, eat good food, take care of your baby, play with your baby and keep the negative thoughts aside.
How long it takes to heal after giving birth is one of the most common questions that several women ask. Though the healing process completely depends upon the mode of delivery, it also depends from person to person.
The time required to heal from a C-section delivery differs from the time required to heal from vaginal birth. In both cases, you will have to take proper care of your body to make the healing process accelerate.
Happy motherhood! Do not get overwhelmed with negative thoughts; try spending quality time with your kid and your family. Do not forget to take care of yourself along with taking care of the baby during this time.