Know the changes as your body recovers after delivery.

The first few days with your newborn can be an emotional time for you and your partner. You may feel excitement but also very tired as your body recovers. Make sure you get plenty of rest. Even just walking and moving about can seem like hard work.

Giving birth is an emotional and tiring experience. Your hormones change dramatically in the first few days. Some women get the baby blues and feel weepy around three to five days after giving birth.

Changes in your body

Your body will have seen some significant changes over the past few days.

Watch this video created by Ottawa Public Health and the Monarch Centre that shares some of the physical and emotional changes after giving birth and some tips on what you can do about it.

Your breasts

On the third or fourth day, your breasts may be tender because milk production is increasing. Your breasts will continue to change shape until breastfeeding is established. Learn more about how to manage sore breasts.

Your abdomen

As your uterus (womb) continues to return to its pre-pregnancy size, you may sometimes feel a painful twinge or period-like pain in your stomach. This can also occur when you are breastfeeding your baby. These will lessen as the days go by.

Your bladder

At first, it may be difficult to pee or tell when your bladder is full. Pee regularly to prevent your bladder from becoming too full.

If you find that it stings when you pee, pour warm water over your perineum or pee in the shower or bath.

It's quite common after having a baby to leak urine accidentally if you laugh, cough or move suddenly. Kegel exercises (see page 23 of linked PDF) can help prevent this.

If you feel a burning when peeing OR you feel like peeing often but you can only pee a little you may be experiencing a urinary tract infection. Seek medical attention if you think you are experiencing a urinary tract infection.

Your vagina

The area between your legs (perineum) may be sore, bruised and swollen. If you have stitches, you may feel more pain.

Ice packs to place on the perineum are available at the hospital. Your nurse may also provide you with a sitz bath or suggest you purchase one from the drug store to soothe pain in your perineum from any tears or stitches. Find more ways to ease your vaginal discomfort (see pages 45 and 46 on linked PDF).

You will find heavy bleeding and discharge which gradually lessens. Use pads only. Not tampons.

Your bowels

At first, your bowels may seem sluggish. You may not have a bowel movement until the third or fourth day after your delivery. To avoid constipation eat fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and drink plenty of water.

Your rectum and anus

Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in or around the rectum and anus. They are common after delivery and can be painful and itchy. They often go away in a few weeks after birth.

To treat hemorrhoids:

  • Try not to stand for long periods.
  • Lie down to take pressure off your bottom.
  • Keep bowel movements soft and regular to avoid straining when going to the bathroom. Drink lots of water and eat plenty of fibres (whole grains, fruits and vegetables).
  • After passing a stool, use moist toilet paper rather than dry toilet paper to clean your bottom.
  • Sit or soak in a warm bath to bring relief.
  • Ask your nurse for hemorrhoid cream and/or pads soaked in witchhazel (Tucks) to help reduce pain and swelling.

After cesarean birth (C-section)

If you had a C-section, you will need to take extra precautions to ensure your body heals. Learn more about the importance of modifying your activity and diet, caring for your incision (see page 44 in linked PDF) and when to seek medical attention.

When to seek medical attention

Learn more about your first days at home and when to seek medical attention.


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