Postpartum Pain

While I’m snuggling my newborn, all sorts of birth and baby topics have come to mind!  With the help of a few reader questions (feel free to email more!) we’ll be tackling labor, delivery, mom and baby care over the next few weeks.  My experience isn’t everyone’s experience, so please chime in! 

Our first question comes from Emily:  One of my questions is about after having the baby. For some reason, that part scares me more (now)! What is the pain and bleeding like after birth? How long does it last?

As with everything else relating to childbirth, each person’s experience will vary, and even my own experiences varied from one baby to the next!  With my first three babies I had to be stitched up after delivery.  Those were all three natural deliveries with no medication, and my doctor always laughed at me because I hated the stitching worse than the delivery!  “Amy, you just had a baby without medication!” he’d say.  Yes, but I am DONE with the pain and DONE with all things “down there” after that baby comes out!  😉

I’d strongly recommend listening to the pushing advice of your doctor or midwife in an attempt to avoid any tearing.  A caring doctor will help you go slowly and “stretch” that area as much as possible.  (I loved my doctor with the first three, but I had NO patience with the stretching once it was push time.)

After delivery you’ll likely feel quite “traumatized” down under.  The contractions do not stop after delivery.  For me, they became more like menstrual cramps (strong ones!) and they were stronger and lasted longer with each baby.  Those after-pains also intensify when baby breastfeeds (breathe through them like you do contractions).  Ouch!  So worth it, though.  Your body is designed that way.  Baby helps getting the hormones going that shrink the uterus back to normal size.  It’s uncomfortable, but only for a few days.

I was surprised this time around to not have as much bleeding right after delivery (I think it was all that pregnancy tea I drank!).  The nurses come around every so often to “push on your belly.”  At first, blood comes gushing out when they do that.  (Which is why you’re still on large, disposable pads on the bed.)  It’s not fun, but I’ve always been holding my brand new baby during those pushes.  “Focus on the baby.  Focus on the baby.”  😉

I did accept the motrin they offered me after delivery.  It certainly doesn’t take away all the after-pains, but between that and the adrenaline (we just had a baby!!!) it was tolerable.

After my first baby I bled (like a period) for nearly 6 weeks.  Not sure why, because my bleeding with other babies has only been about 2-3 weeks.  The after-pains, especially when nursing, lasted around a week, I think.

Chime in, Mamas.  How was your pain and bleeding after delivery?  I’d like to hear from some c-section mamas, too, because I have zero experience with that. 

Next post:  Postpartum recovery:  feel better faster!

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  1. Oh Amy, I think I’m going to love this series. It’s so helpful to get info from other mamas instead of those silly pregnancy books.

  2. I only have one kid but I am happy to share what happened to me after birth. I pushed for 2 and a half hours and had second degree tearing with stitches when it was all said and done. Even though I had bad tearing the hemorrhoids from pushing for so long hurt much worse than the other area. I only bleed for about a week and a half. The tearing and stitches didn’t feel great but it was bearable. It was not as bad as I had imagined it to be and was well worth every second!

  3. I had one vaginal birth and 2 c-sections. And I know I am the odd-man-out, but my c-sections were much easier recovery. My first came with 32 stitches and a prolapse. It was 3 months before I could sit down without pain. I think I bled for about a 3-4 weeks with the 1st and about 2 weeks with the c-sections. The c-sections had incisional pain, but that was alleviated if I put a blanket, folded up, over my stomach. I was just glad I could go to the bathroom without any pain. It’s interesting how the human body works and adjusts!

  4. So glad you brought up this topic – as a new mom (15 yrs ago), this was something I knew nothing about!

    With our 1st, I don’t remember much (long story). With our second, definetly remember & was surprised! Up until that point, I knew nothing about after-birth pains. Mom to the rescue! She instructed me to breath through those after-birth pains, Lamaze style. Quite honestly, don’t remember much about my third. Think it was because I wasn’t surprised and was prepared. All three of mine were cessarian (not by choice, another long story!). I breastfed all three for a full year, last two a lil longer. Can definetly attest to the fact that the after-birth pains were stronger while nursing. I always looked at it as a work out – like Amy said, it’s the bodies way of naturally getting you back in shape!

    Something else I experienced with each of mine was painful bowel movements (gas & #2s moving through), for at least that 1st month after. Same thing, would have to stop and breath through these. Don’t know if that’s something those with natural births have experienced or not…

  5. I come from two perspectives–a c/s mom of 3 and as an RN.

    The reason why the nurses push on your belly is to help your uterus contract down and stimulate the shrinking of it back down to normal. The more pregnancies/babies you have, the less muscle tone your uterus tends to have (we call it a “boggy” uterus) and the pushing on the belly (albeit painful) is effective in making sure things go back to where they’re supposed to–and the great thing, is that the contractions help control the bleeding!

    Now from a personal standpoint, I thought c/s recovery was a breeze. Sure, the first time you stand up it feels like all your insides are falling out, but after that the best thing you can do is be active! The best part about a c/s is that you don’t bleed too much afterwards, because the doctors are able to use surgical tools to vaccuum out your uterus during delivery for the most part!

  6. lI was totally freaked about the after pains childbirth would bring. In fact, I feared them more than the actual delivery. I delivered vaginally after a 14 hour induced labour (not bad!). I needed 2 stitches for tearing, which was miraculous considering I was epiduraled to the eyeballs and couldn’t feel a thing down there! My doctor did a good job of minimizing my tearing by coaching me on when to ease up on pushing Anyway, I was shocked to find how little discomfort I had “down there” after the first couple days. No donut pillows, no hemmroids, nada. Frankly, and sorry to go here but it’s a fact of life, the scariest and most umcomfortable thing was the first bowel movement after the birth. I was sure I was going to be back in the maternity ward getting re-stiched! Gross, I know. I ended up unscathed, but you have to make sure you are drinking LOTS of water, getting fibre, and using a stool softener if you think you need to.

  7. Kathleen you’re not the only one – if I had to choose between my first vaginal birth and my 2nd child’s c-section, I would go section every time!! I think I had a good section experience, so I know not everyone would have the same result. But I had to push for three hours with my first child, which did lots of crazy stuff to all my muscles, so I HATED recovery from that. I didn’t mind the cramping and stuff, it was the incontinence issues that took a long time to resolve. So that’s really what I was worried about the 2nd time around, but we had to do a c-section, so I didn’t have any of that. And I don’t remember much of the post pain (selective memory!) I did have the continued contractions after both, but they clean you out pretty well after the c-section so I don’t remember as much bleeding and stuff afterwards.

  8. I love this topic!

    My #1 tip- take a stool softener the day after giving birth. Going #2 is painful, but if you don’t go it’s worse because it puts pressure on you “down there”.

    I had a homebirth in Hungary and actually had to assist with the stitching process! While my midwife was stitching away I had to pour the anti-septic on. Don’t worry. It wasn’t as bad as it seems! I bled for 5.5 weeks. You can hear more about it on my blog.

  9. I just had my first child 5 months ago. I went completely natural and honestly felt a little traumatized by the entire process. I wasn’t prepared for all of the fluids that come out during labor, delivery, and after the baby is born.

    I bleed heavily for 1-2 days after delivery. Those HUGE pads that the hospital provides were wonderful.

    After that I had light bleeding for about a month. I did have to be sewn up after delivery.

    The thing I was most shocked by was having blood/pain with bowel movements for months afterwards. I eventually used hemorrhoid cream/hydrocortisone and that helped. I think I dealt with that issue for 3 months after delivery.

    I’m still breast feeding my baby. I am amazed that I still get waves of nausea and mild cramping while breast feeding even 5 months later.

  10. My first, I had an epidural, pushed for 1 1/2 hours, & had a 2nd degree tear. The contractions after were not much fun, but I was able to deal with them without pain meds. The worst was definitely the nurses pushing on my stomach. I think I bled for 3 weeks, but I think going #2 was the worst. My 2nd, i’m in a hurry to be born, child was born within an hour of checking into the hospital. So, I did this one naturally. I only pushed 3 times with her and had a 2nd degree tear. I think because everything happened so quickly this time, that the contractions afterward weren’t bad at all & I didn’t bleed very long. The worst was the hemrroids & going #2.

  11. If you decide to write a book to prep new moms I have two words, TUCKS PADS these little devils are wonderful for the entire bottom especially the anal area if there are hemmorroids. They are so soothing and make sitting down alot easier. I had 3 naturally (back in the 70’s when it was hard to find a hospital that allowed natural birth) no one told me about the after pains. I went home after the 2nd birth and thought I was in labor again!! But all the memories are good memories and I would do it all again, even tho I saw my grandchild born by epidural and her mom did crosswords puzzle until time to push!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. My post partum pain got worse with each child, Wyatt being the worst. I had stiches with Madeline (number 1) and no stitches with any others but the cramps were more painful each time. I also breasfed each baby which made the pains worse. With the first I needed only motrin to get through the pain. But with Ben and Wyatt (3 and 4) I came home with the higher dose pain meds and used them for several days afterward. But I also tend to ignore the doctors orders and do things with my older kids (like carry them) when I shouldn’t. I know I shouldn’t lift the 2 year old, but when he is crying for mommy I just can’t ignore it. And thus the cycle of me being in pain and needing medication for longer.
    It was totally worth the baby, but I do think that the after pains are worse than the birth. At least the birth has an immediate gratification. The after pains, not so much.
    And for me delivering the placenta with Ben and Wyatt was worse the the non-medicated birth.

  13. My actual pain was worse after each delivery, but I felt like my overall recovery was easier with #2 and #3 (natural delievery) than it was with #1 (epidural).

    The cramping during nursing definitely got worse each time, and this time around with #3 my stitches hurt like crazy! I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I tore terribly this time around (she just came so fast! Born in the van en route to the hospital!) and I had an episiotomy the first two times.

    I do agree with Melinda, that having older kids is hard. You really want to pick them up and be with them, and sometimes you just have to do what’s best for you. I think that might be why my stitches hurt so much this time around with #3….I had a 3yo and a 2yo who needed my attention as well.

    For me I feel like delivering the afterbirth is the most painful part. Delivering the baby has a purpose….after that I want to be done!

    And I am a huge component of natural birth…having that epidural placed (with #1) during a contraction was worse than anything!

  14. MaryEllen@ImperfectHomemaker says:

    It’s a good thing Emily even thought to ask this question! I was not prepared for the pain, tearing, bleeding, and general yuckiness post-delivery with my first. If you know what to expect it won’t be as miserable! I didn’t mind all of it so much with my second and third because I was prepared for it. So, while it’s not exactly fun, just realize it comes with the territory and enjoy your little blessing! It will all be over with soon enough and that baby will be having their first birthday before you know it!

  15. My after birth experience was difficult. I bled for what seemed forever which turned into about 11 weeks of on and off again and two periods! It was awful. I bled really bad for the first 6 weeks then it slowed down until my past period and just stoped after that (11 weeks worth of bleeding and spotting. I remember the cramping after having her was pretty bad for the week or so after having her but I remember sitting on the floor was unbearable for weeks! But my daughter will be 3 months old next week and everything is all better 🙂 FINALLY! hehe

  16. The whole post-pregnancy experience was pretty yucky for me, but nothing I couldn’t handle as I kept my eye on the prize: my gorgeous son. I was a little horrified by the ginormous, ice-pack style pads the nurse assured me would help. I took care of myself the way the nurses told me that I should, and I think I had a pretty smooth healing process despite tearing, an episiotomy, and my first ever hemorrhoids!

  17. I’d always heard that the after-pains get worse with each kid – definitely true! But it’s just your body being more effective, right?

    I always find the aftermath to be worse than the birth. With my first I had an episiotomy and felt like the pain from that lasted a LOT longer than any actual birth issues.

    With my second, I had a natural birth and a baby with a GIANT head, not to mention he came out in about 5 pushes. I tore severely and had to be stitched up, and when you haven’t had an epidural you can feel most of the stitching, even with a local anesthetic. I HAAATED that and it took a LOOOONG time to heal. (Just keeping it real, folks.)

    I haven’t bled very long afterward with either of mine, but I basically live in the bathtub (no products, just water) for weeks afterward, when I’m not nursing.

    • It’s the body being effective, AND the body saying “hey there, your muscles are a little looser this time around” Lovely. 😉 The stitching is WAY worse than delivering a baby. Glad we can agree on that. Ha!

  18. My 1st (vaginal, unmedicated) was a complete and utter BREEZE compared to my 2 c-sections. And, really, that’s how it *should* be. (Though I’ve read the comments and certainly realize it’s not always the case.) Our bodies are designed to give birth! Major surgery throws a wrinkle in the plan. 😉 I did tear with my vaginal birth and that first bowel movement was scary. Still, I was able to move around, shower, walk stairs, and drive pretty much right away. And I didn’t need to be on pain medication. My c-section recoveries were much, much harder on me– though totally and completely worth it since they’re what ensured the safe delivery of my two daughters.

  19. Well, with the first baby (of 3), I bled/hemorrhaged to the point of needing a transfusion. The nurses tortured me with the uterus pushing for a few hours after birth and then every hour because it wouldn’t clamp back down. Surprisingly though, I didn’t have any of the after-pains, even while breastfeeding. I bled for about 2 weeks continuously, then for the next 3 weeks would have random gushes, usually about once a day. I finally went in early to my postpartum appt to check for leftover placenta (there wasn’t any). With baby 2, I had terrible after-pains until my milk came in. But since I hadn’t experienced them with the first, I had NO idea what was going on and called the nurse into my hospital room several times. I wanted to cry they were so bad. I only bled for a week and ended up calling the doctor because I felt like I didn’t bleed enough. With #3, the after-pains weren’t as bad, and since I knew they would go away when my milk came in, I didn’t worry about them too much. I did have similar bleeding like with my first- a steady amount for a few weeks, then daily gushes.
    For me, my contraction pain stops pretty much immediately after delivery. With my second (my boy), I felt immense relief after he came out. With my third, I was in such pain, the epidural was not working, all I wanted was for her to get out. As a result of serious pushing on my part, and her being 10 pounds, I had some serious tearing. But as soon as she was born, the pain went away and I felt this overwhelming sense of completion. Honestly, I don’t remember delivering the placenta with any of them. I know with my first, the doctor manually removed it (not my doc, an on-call because mine was in hawaii and “would never do that”). I did tear with all three, and had stitches with all three. The itching of the stitches as they heal and the hemmorroids/painful bowel movements are equally irritating in my book. But even with all the repairs, according to my ob at my last postpartum appt, no one would ever guess from looking at my lady bits that I had three kids. I guess that’s a compliment?

  20. My best hint for post c section is to wear an abdominal belt! I had one with my last two sections, but not my first, and I couldn’t believe how it aided me in recovery, especially getting up out of bed/out of a chair, etc. My section recoveries really weren’t bad overall, (my first birth was vaginal…although it probably should have been a c section, too). But the belt made things even better!

  21. Well, girl, you know my stories. 🙂 With my first (hospital birth) I had a 3rd degree tear and it took my doc an hour to stitch me up. Major ouch. It hurt to sit down for weeks and I didn’t feel “normal” down there for two years. I honestly don’t remember bad afterpains or even bleeding…I think because of the trauma and pain of the tear.

    With my second (unmedicated, midwife-assisted birth), my scar tissue tore ever so slightly, but I didn’t need stitches…which I probably would have refused anyway. But the afterpains were definitely there for 4 days…and the bleeding lasted 3 weeks.

    I felt incredible just hours after birth and then didn’t even feel like I had had a baby “down there” within a week. I will probably live in amazement of this natural birth phenomenon for the rest of my life. 😀

  22. Mommy amnesia is great at convincing us that childbirth is “not that bad.” A month ago, I was saying c-sections are no biggie, but now that I’m 3 weeks postpartum from my 3rd c-section, I’ll tell you that c/s recovery stinks! Just loading up the kids to go to the post office yesterday was quite painful!

    I tend to bleed for several weeks after delivery (at least 4-5), but from what all of you are saying, there’s quite a big gap in what’s normal.

    My delivery stories are on my blog.

  23. C-section of NICU baby = I foolishly let my hubby convince me to leave the hospital at discharge (you can room for free if they have the space even after discharge). Then I had to schelpp 70 miles each way to the NICU. Oh my goodness it took forever for it to stop hurting. I was terrified of the seatbelt ripping my stitches (it won’t, so let that one go). I had to go back for a narcotics renewal and I bled lightly for about 2 weeks.

    C section after healthy term baby = I sat on the couch nursing my baby or in the bed nursing my baby for what seemed 24 hours a day. I didn’t even need to use all my pain meds, i bled almost not at all past 2 days or so.

    Both times i got up to walk at the first moment I was given the go ahead. The first time because if I couldn’t walk unassisted I couldn’t go up to the NICU to see my baby (he was 7 hours old before I laid eyes on him). The 2nd time because I’d heard enough folks warn me walking asap helps the pain go away faster. Based on #2 I believe. But I’m also certain you need to function very minimally beyond the care of your newborn for the fastest c-section healing.

  24. With both my babies, I had terrible back labor, much worse the second time than the first. For about 6 weeks maybe longer occasionally when I sit down I would have terrible pain in my back. All through the spine and hips. At my 6 week check up I asked about it, and she told me it was common because your spine compresses during pregnancy and labor. Thankfully it doesn’t happen everytime but it sure hurts when it does. I had vaginal deliveries with both babies and I breastfed, but I never noticed the after-pains after the first day. I usually took motrin until I left the hospital, and was done with the pain meds after that. My last baby came 10 weeks early and I felt normal after a week which was great since I was going to the hospital everyday.

  25. I delivered vaginally (naturally, no drugs) and I was in so much pain after delivering my third child. The cramping was so intense that I had to take the hospital strength ibuprofen just to have some relief. My OB informed me that the after childbirth pain increases with each delivery. I wished I had known that going into it so I could have been prepared for that pain.

    With each pregnancy, I bled for about 6 weeks. I was still bleeding for my postpartum checkup.

    Hang in there, mama! Congratulations! She’s beautiful!

  26. Here’s two odd things I remember after delivery. First, I was not expecting to still have such a large belly… I know it makes sense that the uterus will take time to shrink again, but I was not expecting to be the size of 6 months pregnant. 🙂 Where did I miss that?

    Also, while in the hospital for 2 days after my first (and tearing in 4 places) my tailbone became sore from having to lean back to sit a little, since I didn’t want to sit straight up on the parts that hurt. With my second, I didn’t tear as much and was home that day (delivered at a birth center) so I spent more time on my feet rather than sitting around. (Though that’s one of the little things I missed about 2 days in the hospital… there’s nothing to do but be lazy and get sleep. At home I felt the need to do something productive.)

  27. I just gave birth to baby #2 on Wednesday, so I am right in the middle of postpartum recovery. My water broke at 36 weeks, then I had nothing but back labor, so I can definitely identify with your birth story. I had an episiotomy because baby’s heart rate was dropping so they needed to get him out quickly.

    The episiotomy is the worst part of postpartum recovery for me, but it is ok as long as I don’t change positions a lot.

  28. I just gave birth to baby #2 on Thursday so I’m right at the beginning of recovery. I would echo what most people said so far about the pain with bowel movements (water and Miralax are a girl’s best friend for a while). It seems like hemorrhoids are a “dirty little secret” that no one wants to admit to having. If you get them, don’t be ashamed! Buy your boxes of Tucks pads and tubes of cream with pride. 🙂

  29. With my 1st (of 3) – He had such a big head, too much epidural, used suction and an episiotomy, bleeding for about 5 weeks, but used a sitz bath that sat on the toilet for the first few weeks and OB/GYN said I didn’t have a scar (I’ll take her word for it!) The pain during and after were so much worse because no one ever tells you what to expect. The more relaxed you are and the more informed (even of the the gross stuff) makes it so much better. With my 2nd no epidural, no meds, no episiotomy,the dr. helped with stretching and had minimal tearing and a couple of stitches. But what really helped was the giant ice pack that I had for the first 24 hours. It would be replaced as it melted and I swear I didn’t have near the pain down there as I did with the first. With my 3rd – I had some B/P issues so I got induced, the nurse kept pushing pain meds which I didn’t want considering the last one only took 3 hours to be born after my water broke. You can get thru just about anything knowing there is a time limit. She kept telling me there was no way I would deliver until morning. This being at 7 pm and having contractions pretty regularly I thought it would probably be a long night. I let her give me a little something at 10pm. Mistake, my water broke at 11pm and he was born at 1 am. I was so groggy after he was born I couldn’t really enjoy him. And I still felt every contraction and push, so what was the point really? Listen to your own body and mind – you know what you can and can’t take. Either way you go is the right way for you. Oh and don’t for get the ice pack. Even if they won’t give you one (like they did with my 3rd), take one of your own, you won’t regret it!

    • “The more relaxed you are and the more informed (even of the the gross stuff) makes it so much better.” I agree 100%. Birth is NOT something to go into blindly.

  30. I also had the cramps from you-know-where during feedings for those first few days. The prescription-strength ibuprofen was a big help (and, as a bonus, it really helped with milk letdown when I got engorged). One tip: take it about 45 minutes before a feeding, if you can predict them that far ahead, and it will have kicked in by the time you actually need it.

    Couple of other tips: don’t be surprised if your bleeding stops and then restarts. I bled for about 4 weeks, then stopped for a few days, then bled again for about 10 days. My OB said that, as long as the total time is around 6 weeks, and the second bleed picks up where the first left off (e.g., it’s not gushing or bright red and continues to taper off), this is considered normal. And don’t be surprised if your whole body hurts after birth–labor and pushing can be a full-body experience, so you may have sore back, legs, arms, neck, etc. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, but all the pain (except in my perineum, of course) went away within about 3 days. I’ve heard it can take a little longer if you have an epidural.

  31. Both of my babies were induced. With the first, I went in at 7am and I had her at around 8pm. I chose to induce because I was very worried about the possibility of ending up with another doctor delivering my baby. I was molested when I was younger and I had enough fear surrounding the delivery, the last thing I needed was to complicate the whole thing with a strange doctor. With her, I had an episiotomy, I think 4 or 6 stitches. I don’t necessarily remember the after-pains, but I know that I accepted ibuprofen every time they offered it, so they must have been pretty bad. I bled for 4 weeks, then had a couple days off and got a period. And my episiotomy bothered me for a long time. It was literally months before I felt halfway normal down there and honestly, it still got irritated during sex until after I had my second.

    My daughter was 3 when I had baby #2. He was induced because we’d already been to the hospital for a false alarm and I was having pretty regular contractions (though they weren’t actually doing anything other than being regular). My doctor said I could have a baby by noon, and my son was born at 12:10, so he was pretty close. I didn’t have any pain medication with either child. My daughter was fairly easy (though the way I whined during labor you’d never know it), but my son was back labor, so it hurt soooooo bad. And the drugs they use to induce often make contractions more intense, so that wasn’t helping. Due to a pager number mixup, my doctor wasn’t there to deliver my son. He was facing down instead of up and his heart rate suddenly dropped so the nurse quickly changed her tune from “Don’t push!” to “We need to get him out of there! Push!” I tore, but my doctor never told me how many stitches I got, so I assume it was a lot. But for some reason, the nurses weren’t allowed to deliver the placenta. So I ended up waiting with my legs in the stirrups for ten minutes before the doctor finally showed up. And that whole time, my bod wanted that placenta out of there. I’m sure it was very painful, but in comparison to the back-labor and the tearing while he was coming out, it felt like nothing. But I was so relieved when he finally delivered it. It was like so much pressure released when the placenta finally came out. Again, I don’t really remember the after-pains, but I know I stopped accepting pain meds after the first day, so they were clearly not so bad. I bled for 2 weeks or so and felt like I was back to normal way before my postpartum checkup. Not only did I not have a ton of pain from the stitches where I tore, the irritation from the previous baby’s stitches was finally gone.

    I don’t remember having a problem with the bowel movements after either kid, other than being paranoid about making sure I got it super clean afterward. I was terrified of getting an infection in my stitches. But I think the pain and worry about bowel movements was way worse when I got my gall bladder removed.

  32. I just gave birth to baby #2 two weeks ago – delivered by my wonderful awesome family practice doc, who initially thought I had a third degree tear. She stitched me up, but when she checked her work, discovered it was actually a fourth degree tear. She’d never had anyone tear so badly, so she called an OB, who took out the first set of stitches and then re-did it. Apparently things were swollen and very much “not pretty” down there.

    The doctors were predicting a long recovery time and hooked me up with massive amounts of drugs – but Motrin did the trick for a few days, and I am feeling fabulous. (Doc says I should not be feeling this good two weeks out).

    My advice = don’t listen to anyone who tells you how you *should* feel. Listen to your own body; it will guide your recovery.

  33. I was dreading the post-partum grossness but I was really surprised at how little bleeding I had. I had been preparing for “worse than a period” and got nothing like that at all . . . at first. I bled heavily for a day or two and was wearing my normal underwear with a regular pad when I left the hospital on day 3. I thought I’d gotten by easily but then at about 2 weeks post-partum, I started bleeding profusely and passed a massive clot. According to the ER doc, my “scab” at the site in the uterus where the placenta had attached had come off, causing me to bleed heavily again. I was not at all prepared for that and it really freaked me out.

    I had almost no after pains and no other issues, thankfully. And when my cycle returned at 6 months post-partum, the breastfeeding helped stem the bleeding so that period wasn’t any worse than usual, thank goodness.

  34. I could NOT figure out how to SIT after giving birth. My mom and sister both tried to make me a custom pillow that would help with this issue, but I basically did a lot of standing, lying down, and sort of perching. Maybe I’ll figure it out next time. I did have a 6 hr plane ride at about 8 weeks postpartum, and I was fine with the sitting by then.

    I can’t remember exactly how long I bled, perhaps 2 months, but I still had discharge and odors until about 3 months. I thought it would never go away, but finally it was just gone.

    How the stitches felt: I had 2nd degree tears and like I said it was hard to sit. It felt really awkward moving around, so with that and the huge pads and needing to breastfeed, everything just feels clumsy. In addition to the tears there is a different sort of pain, like you’ve pulled a muscle in your lady parts, perhaps? I had hemorrhoids too and use the “sphincter” theory, loosening my mouth and trying to keep things relaxed for those first bowel movements.

    Oh, and the cramping: my baby was in the NICU, so I mainly felt the afterpains while I was pumping milk, kind of weird with no baby! I agree, the breathing techniques help.

    • P.S. Just to be even more descriptive: My husband went to the bathroom with me the first week or two and helped me get cleaned up. I felt too restricted with the stitches (after a vaginal birth) to do things like lean over and pick up my underwear, get a pad, etc. I couldn’t have done it without him, though it was a lot for him to take in.

      He also helped me get in and out of the bathtub, etc.

      We had a squeaky toy that had been given to the baby and I would use it to call him when I needed assistance. 🙂

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