Many changes occur after delivery. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and frustrating. Not to mention some of the changes no one ever tells you about. There is plenty of information out there about the changes that occur during pregnancy but there are not many resources to help you discern normal changes that occur during the postpartum period. Almost as if with the snap of a finger everything is supposed to go right back to normal after baby.
Here are five normal changes that occur postpartum that may not feel so normal.
These are very common for the first week or two after delivery. Postpartum hot flashes and night sweats occur because of the rapidly changing hormone levels in your body after delivery. Don’t worry, this annoyance will resolve as your hormones return to a more normal level.
2. Breast swelling and pain.
Most women will notice that within 2-5 days after delivery their breasts will swell and become firm and tender to the touch. This is known as breast engorgement. It is the result of milk production. It won’t last forever, but in the moment it feels like it will. To alleviate the discomfort, you can use warm compresses, warm showers, gentle massage and manual expression of the milk. If you are breast-feeding, make sure to feed or pump every 2-3 hours throughout the day will to help to relieve the discomfort.
3. Leaking urine.
Leaking urine especially when you cough/laugh or sneeze is very normal after a delivery, particularly a vaginal delivery but can also occur after a cesarean section. The tissue sustains some damage during a vaginal delivery. In addition, there is a change in the dynamics of the pelvic floor, bladder and urethra during and after pregnancy. Be sure to schedule frequent bathroom breaks to avoid having a full bladder, which will exacerbate the leaking. Start doing Kegel exercises as soon as possible by tightening your pelvic floor muscles as if you were attempting to stop your urine stream. Just like weight lifting, in order to build your muscle back and improve control, you must perform this exercise often. It is recommended at least 75-100 times a day, daily. The great thing is you can do them anytime, anywhere and no one knows you are doing them. If your symptoms don’t improve in 6-8 weeks then seek the advice of your physician.
4. Mood swings.
Mood swings are very common after delivery, and it is very normal. You may be elated one minute and sobbing the next and you are not even sure why. This is multi-factorial. Fatigue, rapidly changing hormones and the stress of caring for a new life all contribute to the roller coaster of emotions. Keep your lines of communication open and find friends or family that will listen and support you. If your symptoms are so extreme that they are taking over your ability to care for yourself or your new baby or if your symptoms last longer than 1-2 weeks after delivery then you need to see your physician.
5. Vaginal Odor.
Most women will experience a vaginal odor for the first few weeks after delivery. The odor is usually described as a metallic smell. It is a result of old blood being expelled from the uterus, which collects in the vagina and mixes with vaginal secretions. This is very normal and will subside once your bleeding has completely resolved usually within 3-4 weeks after delivery. Avoid douching or using fragrance-containing products, as these can be very irritating to the vagina and perineum. Water is the best way to stay clean down there. The vagina is like a self-cleaning oven, you really need not do anything more. If however, you are noticing a greenish discharge or the odor is more “fishy” smelling then you should be evaluated by your physician.