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How Might I Feel After a Natural Delivery?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 19 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
Delivery Baby Natural Birth Symptoms

Having a baby is a major life experience and the birth itself can be a particularly exhausting experience. There’s often lots of information provided about what typically happens during labour and birth, but how might you feel after a natural delivery?

There’s no right or wrong way to feel after giving birth, after all, everyone is different and the actual birth experience is unique to you. However, you may well feel elated, happy and exhilarated to have finally given birth to your baby – especially if it’s been a long or hard labour. Coupled with this are likely to be feelings of mental and physical exhaustion, you may feel drained, bruised and battered. There may be pain too, if you’ve experienced a tear during childbirth or had to have an episiotomy.

Physical Symptoms After a Natural Delivery

There are a number of other physical symptoms that typically occur after you’ve given birth, which affect how you feel.

After you’ve given birth to your baby, your breasts may well feel soft – they’ll contain a small amount of colostrum, which is highly nutritious for your baby. But after three to four days, your breast milk will build up and your breasts may well feel very swollen and tender. Feeding can be uncomfortable at first, with your nipples particularly sensitive.

Postnatal bleeding will also occur, with a discharge called lochia appearing soon after you’ve given birth. Initially it will look a bit like a period, as it’s mixed in the blood and it will look and feel like a heavy period for up to 10 days. It will slowly change colour though, moving from red to brown, and yellow to white. Although the heaviness will ease off after about 10 days, it can still continue, on and off, for up to six weeks or so.

Resting as much as you can is important in the early days and weeks after giving birth, as you’ll no doubt be tired and the extra demands of your new baby can take its toll on you. As well as rest being beneficial for aiding physical feelings of tiredness, getting more rest can lighten the effect of the lochia postnatal bleeding too.

After delivery, your uterus will gradually become smaller and begin to get back to its usual size and shape. But you may experience some pain as it contracts, particularly when you’re breastfeeding your baby. This is because hormones are released as your baby feeds, which encourages the uterus to contract. These feel a bit like the contractions you’ll have had during labour (oh joy!).

Emotional Symptoms After a Natural Delivery

In amongst all these physical symptoms, there’s likely to be a liberal sprinkling of emotional symptoms too.

You may feel teary and more emotional than normal for a few weeks after giving birth. As any new parent knows only too well, babies don’t always sleep when they should and your usual sleep patterns are likely to be disturbed by feeds and a crying baby. With everything else you’ve been through, it can take its toll on you and your partner, leaving you both feeling a bit rundown and exhausted.

Where possible, it helps to try and share the load and get sleep when you can, even if that means taking naps during the day.

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