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After the birth - what to expect in the puerperium

Why didn’t anyone tell me it’s so hard? Every young mother would have had this thought after she came home from the hospital and was faced with the task of caring for a newborn baby and getting on her feet at the same time. Childbirth - whether natural or by caesarean section - is physically and emotionally exhausting. The fact that this is followed immediately by nights without much sleep and extremely strenuous days can quickly push a young mother to her limits.

ALSO READ: 8 Tips for New Mothers: How to Survive the First Weeks with the Baby

Many mothers wonder how long it takes to get back on their feet after giving birth and they find that we don't talk enough about what happens to the mother's body after giving birth. We would like to break the silence here and tell you what to expect after the birth - and that all these uncontrolled emotional outbursts, aching breasts and huge maxi pads are completely normal. You can do it, mom.

Self-care is not a luxury, it is essential.

What really happens after the birth ...

... and how to survive these first days:

Be prepared. If possible, stock up on essentials before you go to the hospital. It's not quite as fun as buying your first baby outfit or that cute silk robe for the birth, but you'll be grateful for it later. Large night pads, witch hazel pads or spray, a soothing aloe vera gel, a small spray bottle and completely covering, soft cotton underwear will be your loyal companions in the coming days and weeks. If you can't do it yourself, send your partner or someone else you trust to a pharmacy to get these items, or use one of these super-fast shipping websites.

ALSO READ: The First Week After Birth: 9 Proven Tips

Muchbleeding is normal.Weekly flowis the traditional expression for bleeding after childbirth, which can initially appear like a particularly heavy period. Two to three days after birth, the blood can be bright red and flowing very freely. Over the next four to six weeks, the blood should become lighter (pink, brown, and cream tones are normal) and less intense. Change your pad every time you go to the bathroom or feel that it is necessary. If the bleeding gets worse instead of subsiding, soaking your sanitary napkin or smelling bad in less than an hour, see your gynecologist or midwife. These could be signs of a complication.

After giving birth, your body can be pretty amazing.

Was that a contraction right now?You may think that postpartum labor is definitely over, but it is normal to still feel mild cramps and contractions as the uterus contracts to its pre-pregnancy size. The after-pains usually go away in a few days, but the entire regression process takes about four weeks. After giving birth, your body can be pretty amazing, right?

Keep the pain under control. Make sure you have appropriate pain relievers around the house before you go to the hospital, either over-the-counter or those that require a prescription. And take a pain pill in good time - keeping your pain under control is very important for your postpartum recovery. The pain prevents you from moving comfortably and breastfeeding, so you should fight it. Your doctor or midwife can advise you on appropriate pain relievers and dosages, or offer you a non-drug option if you prefer.

ALSO READ: What to AVOID after giving birth

Take care of your breasts. Three to five days after you are born, the milk comes in and your breasts can feel sore, puffy, and even hot to the touch. Hot and cold gel pads from the pharmacy can relieve such pain. You will appreciate a well-fitting bra without underwire, whether you are breastfeeding or not. And if your nipples are sore from breastfeeding, lanolin cream or nipple shields can help.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful, natural way to feed your baby, but it can also be challenging, so take the time to adjust and be patient. And don't worry - many possible inconveniences will go away once you and your baby have settled in and your body has adjusted accordingly.

READ MORE: 7 breastfeeding tips for new mothers

Maybe you hardly thought about pooping before giving birth?

Think about the poop. Chances are, you hardly thought about pooping before giving birth. This will change now. The first bowel movement after giving birth can be downright scary because you've been ripped or stitched, but the sooner you do it, the better. Get up and exercise as soon as your doctor or midwife allows, drink plenty of water and eat a high-fiber diet.

Then, when you need to go to the bathroom, take enough time to do it and try to relax. If you're still struggling and your doctor or midwife agrees, take an over-the-counter laxative. And remember, the thought of going to the bathroom for the first time is often worse than the actual process. After peeing or pooping, clean yourself up with a spray bottle of water and dry yourself gently with toilet paper.

Maintain this point. Vaginal pain is normal after birth. During childbirth, you may experience cracks in the vagina or a sore perineum (the area between your vagina and anus). Cold packs relieve the pain. Bring home a good supply of these from the hospital. When you get home, you can make your own cooling pads by putting aloe vera gel and witch hazel spray on maxi pads, wrapping them in plastic bags, and putting them in the freezer. And no sex, tampons or other things in your vagina until your doctor or midwife gives you the green light.

Take care of your seams. If you've had a caesarean section, follow your doctor's or midwife's directions so your cut can heal without infection. Take it easy. Short walks and not lifting anything heavier than your baby - that's enough for this point in time. If you sustained vaginal tears in a natural birth, clean the area with a spray bottle and pat it dry. Avoid baths until your doctor or midwife allows you to do so, but a warm shower is fine.

Let the tears run when they come. Postpartum recovery is not just about physical recovery. The postpartum hormones can make your emotions go on a roller coaster. Add to this the lack of sleep and the feeling of having become a completely different person, which can cause fear. Remember that it's perfectly normal to be thin and tired and that it will get better over time.

Postpartum recovery is not just about physical recovery.

Talk to a friend or relative about how you are feeling, and always remember that it's okay to feel overwhelmed. But if you are constantly angry, irritable, or anxious, or if your feelings could be putting yourself or your baby at risk, seek help as soon as possible. Many women experience postpartum depression, but doctors and midwives are available to help you.

ALSO READ: Postpartum depression creeps up on you

Do what is good for you. Yes, it's true: your life has changed radically, but you are still yourself. It may be hard to think about when you look into that exhausted face looking at you from the bathroom mirror. Whenever possible, however, ask someone to look after your baby and take some time for the little rituals that will calm you down: take a shower, read a book, have a cup of coffee, blow dry your hair, yourself a little apply make-up or get a manicure or pedicure.

Self-care is not a luxury, it is essential. Take care of yourself - and be honest with yourself if you need help. That way, you will be the best mom your little one can get.

Kaelyn Forde

Kaelyn Forde is a mother, journalist and yoga teacher. She writes about motherhood and teaches yoga for new mothers and their babies in New Jersey.