You’ve spent the last nine months growing a human inside you – it’s an incredible, transformative, awe-inspiring process (seriously: you grew a human with your own body!) and one that requires a lot of changes. Your baby needs to grow, so your stomach muscles stretch to allow it. Your baby needs to come out somehow, so your hips widen to accommodate it. Your baby needs to be nourished, so your body makes a placenta. It’s all pretty amazing. The rapid changes of pregnancy certainly slow down after you have given birth, and your body will eventually feel like it is back to “normal”, but for a little while, there are a few more changes to come…
1. Your breasts will be larger than normal (even bigger than they were during pregnancy, most likely). After delivery, your hormones send a message to your breasts, indicating it’s time to start producing milk to feed your baby. For the first few days, you’ll produce colostrum, an incredibly nutrient-dense substance that’s thicker than the milk that will come later, and yellow in color. Packed with essential antibodies and immunoglobulins, colostrum is just what your baby needs straight after birth. It’s pretty amazing – colostrum protects against bacteria and viruses and also has a mild laxative effect, helping your baby pass their first stools.
After two or three days, your milk will “come in” and your breasts will become larger and very, very hard. It’s likely they will cause discomfort, but nursing your baby frequently is the best way to alleviate the pain (it will also allow your body to start regulating the amount of milk it produces). Cold packs also help. We love Kushies Organic Jersey Nursing Pads, to help protect against leakage, and a natural nipple balm like Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter, which nourishes sore nipples in those early days of feeding.
2. If you had a vaginal delivery, your vagina will be swollen and bruised for a few days (up to a week) after birth. It might look a little unusual but it’s perfectly normal – you can use cold packs to help decrease the inflammation. Wear organic underwear and organic pads when possible. Lying down rather than sitting will help with the bruising and lying on your side rather than on your back will also relieve the pressure. You might find sitting on a cushion more comfortable than sitting on hard chairs.
3. Your weight will go down. During the first week after birth alone, you’re likely to lose between four and six pounds of pure water weight. This is the result of both increased urination and perspiration. If you’re breastfeeding, you can expect to lose even more weight. Nursing burns 300-500 extra calories a day, and while you’ll likely be hungrier to compensate for the additional energy you’re burning, you’ll still probably lose weight as a result of breastfeeding.