Life After Delivery

Written by Tracy Stickler | Published on December 17, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, FACP on December 17, 2014

Symptoms and Complications

The transition from pregnancy to parenthood is a big adjustment. Not only is there an infant to care for, there’s a whole new set of physical and emotional symptoms to deal with. Depending on the length and type of delivery you had, your body will be going through extreme changes.

Some of the symptoms you might experience after childbirth include:

  • bloody discharge
  • abdominal cramps
  • pain and discomfort around the vagina
  • pain around the incision if you had a cesarean
  • difficulty urinating
  • sweating
  • breast engorgement
  • constipation

Complications after childbirth are rare. But it’s important to be aware of your symptoms and to call your doctor if you experience anything unusual. Some symptoms that may indicate a problem include:

  • heavy bleeding that lasts for more than a few hours
  • large blood clots
  • pain in the lower abdomen after the first few days following delivery
  • fever
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sharp chest pain

Hospital Stay

You and your doctor will decide what is best for you and make sure that it works with your insurance. If there is a medical reason for you to stay in the hospital, your health insurance should allow it. Many insurance companies encourage women to leave the hospital 24 hours after delivery. For some women, this is safe and appropriate. You may need to stay in the hospital for longer if you’ve had a C-section or if you’ve had a particularly difficult labor and delivery.

Baby’s Health

After a baby is born, an APGAR test is done and the score is used to quickly determine the health of a newborn. Things that will be assessed include:

  • appearance (color of the skin)
  • pulse
  • grimace (reflex)
  • activity
  • respiration

Breastfeeding

Doctors recommend that you breastfeed your baby for the first year of life. Women are encouraged to start feeding as soon as possible after delivery. Breast milk is the optimal food for your baby.

Some of the many benefits of breast milk include:

  • easily digestible
  • helps to prevent allergies
  • passes on mother’s infection-fighting antibodies, lowering the risk of certain  infections
  • it's free
  • strengthens the bond between mom and baby
  • decreases risk of breast and ovarian cancer
  • reduces a baby’s chance of becoming obese as they get older

If you are breastfeeding, you will need to increase your intake of calories and get plenty of calcium.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a form of clinical depression that usually affects women within the first few months after childbirth. While the fluctuations in hormone levels may be to blame for changes in mood and behavior after giving birth, there are also a set of non-hormonal factors that may contribute to depression.

Triggers may include:

  • disappointment in the birth
  • exhaustion
  • breastfeeding difficulties
  • relationship adjustments
  • other stressors related to having a new baby

If you are suffering from postpartum depression, talk to your doctor so that you can get the help you need.

Sex After Childbirth

Sex can typically be safely resumed about four to six weeks after childbirth. If healing is taking a bit more time, your doctor may recommend waiting longer. Sex can sometimes be painful the first time after delivering a baby, particularly if you’ve had an episiotomy or a tear.

Women who are breastfeeding have lower estrogen levels, which may affect lubrication and make the vagina feel dry and raw. Be sure to use a lubricant when you restart sexual activity. If the lubrication does not alleviate the pain, then check with your doctor to make sure you are healing as expected.

Was this article helpful? Yes No

Thank you.

Your message has been sent.

We're sorry, an error occurred.

We are unable to collect your feedback at this time. However, your feedback is important to us. Please try again later.


Show Sources

Trending Now

Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
Migraine vs. Chronic Migraine: What Are the Differences?
There is not just one type of migraine. Chronic migraine is one subtype of migraine. Understand what sets these two conditions apart.
Numbness, Muscle Pain and Other RA Symptoms
Numbness, Muscle Pain and Other RA Symptoms
The symptoms of RA are more than just joint pain and stiffness. Common symptoms include loss of feeling, muscle pain, and more. Learn more in this slideshow.
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Common Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid Them
Learn about some of the most common triggers for asthma, as well as measures you can take to minimize your risk of exposure, symptoms, and flares.
Famous Athletes with Asthma
Famous Athletes with Asthma
Asthma shouldn’t be a barrier to staying active and fit. Learn about famous athletes who didn’t let asthma stop them from achieving their goals.
Beyond Back Pain: 5 Warning Signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Beyond Back Pain: 5 Warning Signs of Ankylosing Spondylitis
There are a number of potential causes of back pain, but one you might not know about is ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Find out five warning signs of AS in this slideshow.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement