Physical Changes to Expect After the Birth of Your Baby

Congratulations on the birth of your baby! We know that the birth of your child is one of the most important experiences of your life. While there are many lists that include all the newborn essentials, this post focuses on what to expect and some essentials for new moms.

Mom and baby

Vaginal bleeding: For the first three days after delivery, you may experience a bloody discharge of leftover blood, mucus and tissue from your uterus. This discharge, called lochia, is generally as heavy or heavier than a menstrual period and may contain several clots. The discharge will turn pink, then brown and finally a yellowish-white as it decreases in quantity. The bright red flow may resume when you are breastfeeding or during periods of increased activity. Normally, this will stop completely within four to six weeks.

Things to help: Sanitary pads

What to watch for: Saturating more than one pad an hour for more than a few hours or discharge that has a bad odor


Abdominal cramps (afterbirth pains): Abdominal cramps, or “afterbirth pains,” are caused by contractions of the uterus as it returns to normal. They may be more obvious while you are nursing and will gradually subside within a week.

Things to help: Change positions, empty your bladder, take Tylenol® or Motrin® (Ibuprofen)

What to watch for: Severe abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting


Perineal discomfort: The stretching and bruising of the perineum during delivery can cause discomfort, pain and numbness. If your perineum was torn or if you had an episiotomy, you will have stitches. In most cases, this area will be very tender and sore for three to four days following delivery. Your stitches will dissolve in about 15 days, but tenderness may last several weeks.

Things to help: Warm sitz baths, witch hazel soaked in gauze pads or Tucks®, local anesthetic spray, Tylenol®

What to watch for: Increasing pain, swelling or discharge


Cesarean incisional pain: If you delivered by cesarean birth, your wound will be painful and you may experience numbness or a tingling sensation when the anesthesia wears off. Medication to relieve your pain will generally be ordered by your physician. Avoid lifting anything other than your baby, and try to keep stair climbing to a minimum.

What to watch for: Fever, increasing pain or drainage from your incision site


Constipation: Your first bowel movement after childbirth may be difficult.

Things to help: Fiber (whole grains, fresh and dried fruit), drinking water, Colace®, Milk of Magnesia® or Dulcolax® tablets


Hemorrhoids: If you have hemorrhoids, they can become swollen and painful and protrude after delivery.

Things to help: Laxatives, Anusol® or Preparation H®


Infant feeding: If you are bottle-feeding, remember to wear a well-fitting bra and avoid breast stimulation. Breast engorgement will generally improve two to four days following delivery.

If you are breastfeeding, you may not produce milk for three to four days after delivery. When your baby nurses, he or she will receive a clear liquid, called colostrum. This fluid contains important antibodies. When your milk finally begins to come in, your breasts may become enlarged, tender or unusually firm.

Things to help: Nurse your baby more frequently, apply warm compresses to your breasts or take a warm shower.

What to watch for: Body aches, chills and a fever of 101⁰ or 102⁰ as these can be signs of a breast infection called mastitis. With mastitis, one breast may become extremely firm, red hot and tender.


As always, you are welcome to call our office at 804.288.4084 with any questions or concerns you may have. If you experience any of the following symptoms, please call us immediately.

  • Elevated fever over 100.4
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Painful urination, burning and urgency
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Pain, swelling and tenderness in the legs
  • Chest pain or cough
  • Hot, tender breasts
  • Persistent pain in the perineum with increasing tenderness
  • Vaginal discharge with a bad odor
  • Feelings of hopelessness that last more than 10 days after the delivery

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About Virginia Women’s Center
Our care team – comprised of OB-GYNs, high-risk pregnancy specialists, nurse practitioners, ultrasound technologists, psychologists and a genetic counselor – are experienced in all aspects of pregnancy and welcome the opportunity to provide care that revolves around you. We have added all of these services and specialists to our practice not only for your convenience, but also because we believe that you will benefit from a coordinated and comprehensive approach to your pregnancy care. For more information, visit, or find us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.