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After the birth your body undergoes rapid physical and hormonal changes. Your caregivers will carefully check on your temperature, pulse, respiratory rate and blood pressure during the first hours and days after the birth. They will monitor the amount and character of bleeding, the position of the fundus and uterus, and the functioning of your bladder and bowel.

Uterus
Your uterus gradually shrinks to its pre-pregnancy size and position. This is known as involution. After-birth pains may be felt, especially when you put your baby to the breast. You can expect a bloody discharge from the uterus, called lochia, which can continue for as long as six weeks after the birth.

Menstruation
Usually recommences from the second to third month after birth. If you are breastfeeding exclusively, menstruation usually recommences from six months or later.

NB: Use adequate contraception to avoid pregnancy.

Perineum
Your doctor or midwife will tell you how to care for your episiotomy or stitches.

Warning signs of infection

Prevention of infection and promotion of healing

Urination
Discomfort when urinating is due, to a greater or lesser extent, to stretched and traumatised tissues. You may need to urinate more often as your body excretes the extra fluid accumulated in your blood and body tissue during pregnancy.

Bowel function

Breastfeeding mothers

Rest and activity

Try to rest during the day when the baby sleeps to make up for interrupted sleep when night feeding.

Weight loss

Regaining your pre-pregnancy shape

Breastfeeding, exercise and correct eating will help you regain your pre-pregnancy weight and shape. Start a progressive exercise programme as soon as possible after the birth.

  • Pelvic floor muscles need exercise to increase circulation, reduce swelling and promote healing of the perineum, and restore vaginal muscle tone.
  • Abdominal muscles will be slack for some time after birth.Click here to learn more about how the abdominal muscles stretch during pregnancy or click here for modified abdominal exercises.