Normal changes to your body after the birth

You can expect some changes to your body straight after your baby is born. Find out about bleeding, your tummy and breasts, and going to the toilet.

Bleeding

It’s normal to bleed from your vagina after the birth and, like a period, the bleeding will be quite heavy at first. Gradually the bleeding will become a brownish colour and may last for about 6 weeks, getting less and less until it stops.

If you are losing blood in large clots, or if bleeding changes to a bright red colour or is smelly, talk to your midwife (or the midwife working on behalf of your specialist doctor).

Use sanitary pads for the bleeding rather than tampons. Using tampons can cause infections – your midwife will let you know when it’s safe to use them.

Tummy

Your tummy will probably be quite baggy after the birth. Even though you have delivered your baby and the whenua/afterbirth, you’ll still be quite a lot bigger than you were before the pregnancy.

Once you have recovered from the birth you can start doing some gentle exercise to help tighten up your tummy muscles. See the Looking after yourself page to find out more.

Your breasts

Your breasts will feel full about the third day after your baby is born – whether or not you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mums often have tender nipples in the early days. If you are having issues with breastfeeding, see our Problems with breastfeeding page.

Wear a bra that supports your breasts well (not an underwire bra, which may put pressure on your breasts and could lead to blocked milk ducts).

Speak to your midwife if you’re very uncomfortable or for advice about your breasts if you are not breastfeeding.

Going to the toilet

Doing a wee may burn or sting a bit at first because the area around your vagina stretches (or tears) during birth. Drinking lots of water will dilute your wee and should help with the stinging. Some women also find that it helps when they wee to squirt water gently onto themselves using a water bottle. If the stinging lasts for more than a few days, tell your midwife (or specialist doctor).

You will probably start to poo again 1–2 days after the birth. It’s important not to let yourself become constipated (when you have 3 or fewer poos in a week). Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, bran and wholemeal bread, and drink plenty of water.

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