by Jennifer Shakeel
Congratulations! You made it through labor and delivery and you are the proud parent of one of the most beautiful babies in the world! That’s right, you can now take that big sigh of relief… you are no longer pregnant. As you lay in the hospital bed, you are overwhelmed by the desire to stand up and see your no longer pregnant body. You are almost jittery with excitement of putting on those pre-pregnancy clothes. Once the pain killers wear off you jump out of bed to stand in front of the mirror and marvel at your no longer pregnant body…
Marvel indeed! Chances are it is not what you were expecting. I can tell you that last month, as I gave birth to my third child, a scheduled C-section, I asked my doctor if while she had me open she would go ahead and do liposuction and take care of everything while she was there. She laughed and told me I really didn’t need it (music to a pregnant woman’s ears) that there was really very little fat there and she was impressed. Naturally then I was looking forward to being back to where I was before I was pregnant.
But then there was the reality of my no longer pregnant body… it was not what I had hoped… and I was surprised but what I experienced. First, let’s get one thing very clear, you are going to leave the hospital with an inflated stomach. You may not be pregnant anymore but you are still going to look like it. As upsetting as this may be to hear… you are probably going to look that way for at least a week depending on how much weight you put on during your pregnancy. I should also say that it will depend on which type of delivery you had, natural or c-section.
Here is a small list of other normal changes that you can expect after giving birth:
Stretch marks, most women cringe at the sight of the new marks that are on various parts of their body. I look at them as signs of achievement. My husband refers to them as my flames of victory, and my son thinks they look like seaweed. They don’t go away; they will fade though, in time.
Vaginal bleeding, this is normal and can last for a couple of weeks all the way up to six weeks after giving birth. It will change though, from being a bright red to a darker reddish brown to a yellowish discharge to clear. The color changes indicate how well the uterus is healing.
Night sweats; no this isn’t a sign of menopause. Your body is simply getting rid of any extra fluids left in the tissues that you acquired during your pregnancy.
Breast tenderness will also become an issue, atleast in the beginning. As your body prepares to feed your newborn the breasts will swell and be tender to the touch. This will usually go away in after a few days, whether you are breast feeding or not. If you are not breastfeeding and are looking for a way to relieve the discomfort you can get a head of cabbage, cut it in half and place it in the freezer. Then you will take two leafs and place one on each breast and wear the cabbage leaves until they are room temperature and replace them with new leaves. The estrogen in the cabbage leaves will help dry up the milk and relieve the engorgement and tenderness.
Accept these few bits of wisdom right now. First, you are not going to be the same size and shape after giving birth that you were before you were pregnant. I say this to all mothers, regardless of how many kids you have had, because it is with my third that I struggled with this the most. So take my wise husband’s words of advice, “You just had a baby, give yourself a break.” Second, it took you nine months to grow a happy and healthy baby inside you… nine months of changes to your body… those changes are not going to go away nine minutes after delivery. Thirdly, cherish these moments… because it is the only time in your life when people are going to tell you how wonderful you look… no matter how bad you think you look.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience. As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!
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