Nothing in this world compares to the emotions you feel when you have finally given birth and you can hold your newborn, it’s a magical moment and one that you will cherish forever. Nevertheless, when you are not attending to the baby’s needs, your thoughts may wander to whether your body will ever feel the same again.
The after-birth process can be quite a physical and mental challenge and women are often not told truthfully what to expect. After-pains can feel worse than giving birth, a vagina may be so swollen that it resembles a baboon’s bottom and it can feel really, really scary going to the toilet for the first time.
1. Sore And Stretched
Regardless of your pregnancy fitness you can feel muscularly sore post birth. Giving birth is by no means an easy workout so you are bound to feel some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness- e.g. how you feel after a leg workout). I remember my triceps and abdominal muscles aching for a couple of days following birth, due to the many different laboring positions I tried including the 3-hour pushing ordeal.
Gentle effective stretches and movements can help you recover faster and feel much better.
2. After Pains
After-pains can get worse following each birth, your body is getting super-efficient and knows what to expect. Be prepared to take painkillers if necessary to help you cope. There is also an after-birth tincture you may like to try.
3. C-Section Scar
Most of the mums I have spoken to over the years have had minimal advice from their Obstetrician on how to look after their scars postpartum. Specific recovery binders and or shorts, oils and soft tissue massage should be advised as part of the immediate recovery process.
Read here for more advice on C-section recovery
4. Stretch Marks
For some women stretch marks generally appear during pregnancy. However, don’t be surprised if you end up with a couple of extra ones, especially on your boobs, as the swift increase in their size thanks to your breast-milk ‘coming in’ significantly stretches your breast tissue. Your breasts will also feel hot, engorged and you certainly won’t want them touched. Ensure you pack extra supportive breastfeeding tops in your hospital bag.
5. Sleep Deprivation
The wonderful postnatal hormones will help you to remain on a high for the first couple of days. Once these initial feel-good hormones have waned, it may take 2-3 months for your body to adapt to sleep deprivation.
Read here for more tips to help you cope with lack of sleep.
If you have pushed for more than a couple of hours or had medical intervention then I would advise you to see a Women’s Health physiotherapist as soon as possible. A WHP can give you an internal and/or ultrasound to check your internal organs and muscles, which will enable them to recommend appropriate treatment.
During the next 3 – 6 months if you experience further leaking issues and/or feel heaviness in your vagina see a WHP immediately.
Further information on Prolapse click here and our WHP Directory is here.
7. 6 Week Check Up
A checkup by your doctor after 6 weeks is not the go-ahead to get back into your pre-pregnancy workouts. Most doctors are not specialized in postpartum exercise and/or physical recovery. I don’t even remember my 6-week checkups, in fact I don’t even think I had more than one! The 6-week checkup by your doctor is more of a general assessment of both mum’s and baby’s health and well-being.
Generally, the lack of correct exercise advice, which can help mums recover better, is often poor or nonexistent.
9. Fluid And Weight Retention
Most women can expect a little fluid retention during pregnancy. Unfortunately, we think this will disappear the moment our baby is delivered! Your body cannot get rid of excess fluid immediately. What tends to happen is that you will be peeing this extra fluid out over the next few weeks, frequent trips to the bathroom are not over just yet!
10. Aches And Pains
Aches and pains can be quite common after birth, your body is trying to reset itself and recover. If you are not sure about ANY pain, increased pain and/or bleeding, always seek further medical advice as soon as possible, don’t wait!
11. Diastasis Recti
If Diastasis Recti is assessed at the hospital, it may be inaccurate as the uterus is trying to shrink back down and your stomach may feel too sore to be touched. I would advise Diastasis reassessment 2-3 weeks post for a more accurate reading. For self-assessment video see here.
Read here for more information on Diastasis Recti.
To help you heal your abdominal separation postnatal follow our Birth2Fitmum program
12. Body Shape
No matter how fast you heal post birth or how much exercise you have done during pregnancy, you probably won’t be walking out of the maternity suite in your pre-pregnancy jeans. Things have stretched and your pelvis has widened. It may be a good idea to wear your activewear leggings for the first few months and not bother trying to squeeze into your pre-pregnancy clothes.
Some or all of the above may apply but at least you are now more aware of what to expect during the early weeks after delivering your baby. What do you wish you had been told? Add your comments below.
Lorraine Scapens is the founder of Pregnancyexercise.co.nz and has more than 20+ years’ experience in the Fitness Industry. Mum to 3 girls, Lorraine knows exactly how hard it can be to juggle everything which is why she developed her popular online fit mum programs.
If you feel any pain or discomfort whilst exercising, stop. If pain continues consult your L.M.C or G.P. The information included in this article has been written by Lorraine Scapens: She is not able to provide you with medical advice, information is used as a guide. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.