Rest is considered as the 4th trimester of pregnancy. After you give birth, you will experience a lot of physical and emotional change. It is important to allow your body to rest, get as much sleep as you can, and to spend time with your newborn. It is important to ask for help when you need it. Asking your partner or family and friends to help with the housework, or cook meals can help you get the rest you need.
In the first few days after you give birth, you can expect to bleed from your vagina. This blood is called ‘lochia’, is bright red and heavy, sometimes with clots, and eventually becomes lighter, reddish-brown or pink. Some women also experience pains from their uterus contracting. You may experience these same pains when breastfeeding as your body produces the hormones that make your uterus contract. If you are experiencing anything unusual after giving birth, such as severe headaches, blurred vision, leg swelling, heavy vaginal bleeding, passing clots bigger than a 50-cent piece, severe pain or other signs of being unwell such as fever, consult your midwife or doctor.
If you have had a caesarean section
If you have had a caesarean section, it is important to not lift anything heavier than your baby after birth. You will have a scar, however most c-section scars heal well, and leave only a faint line just above your pubic hair line (most c-sections are now performed horizontally and are less visible once healed). Whilst the incision on the uterus is always closed with dissolvable stitches, the incision on your skin may be closed with staples, stitches, or glue. To help you scar heal, it is important to keep it clean, air it out, avoid itching, keep any follow-up appointments, and ask your doctor about what ointments you can use. 2 weeks after birth, your scar should look and feel better, however it takes about 6 weeks to be considered healed, and at least a year for the scar to settle into how it will permanently look. Keep an eye on any signs of infection, and see your doctor if you experience redness, warmth or swelling of the incision or skin surrounding it, fever, oozing, foul smell, increasing pain or hardness around the wound, pain in a specific spot (generalised pain is normal), or if the incision splits open.
You might find that you experience emotional changes after giving birth, such as feely teary, irritable, or more emotionally sensitive. This is normal, however if you don’t feel better after 2 weeks, it could be a sign of postnatal depression. Help is available, and you can read a bit more about this in Mental Health Support.
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby’s video call service allows you to speak face-to-face with a maternal child health nurse. Video call is a free service and is available from 7am to midnight, 7 days a week (including public holidays). Video or phone call link is available at the bottom of home page here