The First 6 weeks After Delivery; What to Expect Postpartum

 

Giving birth is a beautiful process with a long and sometimes difficult recovery. There are many aspects of the recovery process that aren't openly discussed, and this leaves many women in the dark. It can be incredibly stressful not knowing if the symptoms you are experiencing are normal or not.

This blog is dedicated to highlighting some of the possible symptoms that you can expect within the first 6 weeks after delivery. 

PHOTO: RENEE BERGERON OF LITTLE EARTHLING PHOTOGRAPHY

Placenta wound healing after birth 


Whether you had a vaginal or c-section delivery, your placenta will leave an 8.5-inch incision in your uterus that will take time to heal. You will experience bleeding or bloody discharge after birth, and the cause is primarily from the wound left behind from where your placenta was attached to your uterus. 


During this period, you have to remember to be gentle with yourself. The fact is, the placenta is technically an organ that you have just expelled during birth. Additionally, your uterus is trying to heal from that organ no longer being there. Take the time needed to recover and give your body time to heal properly. 

 


Your uterus shrinking back to its original size 


During pregnancy, your uterus will grow to accommodate the size of your baby. Each week, you will reach a new milestone with the size. At the end of your first trimester, your uterus will be about the size of a small grapefruit. By the end of your second trimester, it will be the size of a papaya. And finally, at the end of your third trimester, your uterus will grow to the size of a watermelon. 


However, just as your uterus did not swell to the size of a watermelon overnight, it will take some time to shrink back to its usual size after you've given birth. It will gradually deflate, a process known as involution. It usually takes about 6 weeks for this process to be completed. 

What to expect with stitches 


Not all mothers need stitches after birth. If you’ve had a perineal tear during vaginal delivery, you will likely need stitches to help heal the wound properly. The number of stitches you receive will depend on how severe the tear was. A small tear may not need stitches and may be left on its own to heal.


The sutures normally disintegrate in 1-2 weeks and do not need to be removed. During this time, you may notice pieces of stitches in your sanitary napkin, which is completely normal. 

A C-Section is a major surgery and will require stitches for healing to take place.


Recovery from a perineal tear and C-Section requires special care, time and patience. Recovery can be uncomfortable and hard, but each day should be better than the one before. 


Here are a few tips that can be applied to both times of stitches and help with recovery:


  • Get lots of rest. Sleep when you are tired. This will help greatly with your recovery.
  • Try to walk daily. Walking increases oxygen and blood flow and prevents infection and constipation. 
  • Avoid strenuous activities and heavy exercise until you’ve cleared it with your doctor or midwife. 
  • Wear loose cotton clothing for comfort. This will allow the wound to breathe (if you’ve had a C-section).
  • Take painkillers if you feel sore, but stick to paracetamol, especially if breastfeeding. 
  • Keep the wound clean and as dry as possible.
  • Watch for signs of infection - pus or oozing in the wound, fever, or chills.
  • Contact your doctor if something doesn’t feel right. 

Every postpartum journey is unique, but it’s always best to trust your instincts. Take gentle care of yourself during this time, and get your postpartum essentials for an even smoother recovery. 



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