Your body after the birth
It takes about six to eight weeks for your uterus and lower abdomen to heal, and for the uterus to contract back to its normal size after the birth. The uterus starts to contract soon after the baby has been born, and from once being as big as a melon, it should eventually return to its normal size - as big as a small pear, and that takes some time. Breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract.
After-pains are often more severe for mothers who have had several children than for first-time mums. If you need it, you can ask your midwife to give you pain relief, but sometimes a wheat bag or hot water bottle will help. Some midwives can also give acupuncture to help with the after-pains.
The wound in the wall of the uterus, where the placenta was attached, will ooze a fluid known as lochia for the next three to four weeks. On the first day, and for up to a week after the birth, the lochia will be mixed with blood, but later on it turns into more of a brownish discharge. Remember that the amount of discharge may increase if you strain yourself, so make sure you don't lift anything that's too heavy! During this time you're particularly susceptible to infection and so you shouldn't have a bath or go for a swim.
If you've had stitches, it's common to experience pain in the lower abdomen for a few days. Pelvic floor exercises – Kegels - reduce the swelling and increase the flow of blood, which can also help ease haemorrhoids, so get exercising! Holding a little crushed ice in a tea towel against the wound can ease the pain and discomfort. Always sit on a soft cushion.
Going to the toilet after giving birth might seem a bit of an impossibility, particularly the first few times. When you bear down, it might feel as if "everything is falling out". Try "holding everything up" by holding a clean sanitary towel against the wound. Pouring water on your genitals at the same time can also help to ease discomfort.
Getting back your regular toilet habits after giving birth is a priority. So it's good if someone else can look after your baby so that you can take your time and not have to stress while you're sitting on the toilet.
At times you might feel as though your body will never be the same again, but it will over time. A little exercise and a few hundred Kegels and you’ll be as good as new!