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Recovering From Delivery


Your baby's finally here, and you're thrilled - but you're also exhausted, uncomfortable, on an emotional roller coaster, and wondering whether you'll ever fit into your jeans again. Childbirth classes helped prepare you for giving birth, but not for this.

What to Expect in the First Few Weeks

After your baby arrives, you'll notice some changes - both physical and emotional.

Physically, you might experience:

* Sore breasts. Your breasts may be painfully engorged when your milk comes in and your nipples may be sore.
* Constipation. The first postpartum bowel movement is typically delayed to the third or fourth day after delivery, and sensitive hemorrhoids and sore muscles may make bowel movements painful.
* Episiotomy. If your perineum (the area of skin between the vagina and the anus) was cut by your doctor or if it was torn during the birth, the stitches may make it painful to sit or walk for a little while during healing.
* Hemorrhoids. Although common, hemorrhoids (swollen anal tissues) are frequently unexpected and initially unnoticed.
* Hot and cold flashes. Your body's adjustment to new hormone and blood flow levels can wreak havoc on your internal thermostat.
* Urinary or fecal incontinence. The stretching of your muscles during delivery can cause you to inadvertently pass urine when you cough, laugh, or strain or may make it difficult to control your bowel movements, especially if a lengthy labor preceded a vaginal delivery.
* "After pains." The shrinking of your uterus can cause contractions that worsen when your baby nurses or when you take medication to reduce bleeding.
* Vaginal discharge (lochia). Heavier than your period and often containing clots (sometimes golf-ball sized), vaginal discharge gradually fades to white or yellow and stops within 2 months.
* Weight. Your postpartum weight will probably be about 10 pounds (the weight of the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid) below your full-term weight, before additional water weight drops off within the first week as your body regains its sodium balance.
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