Your body after the birth

Your body has just been through an incredible experience, and it may take a while to recover. And your feelings may be all over the place!

Talk to your midwife or health visitor if anything worries you. You may be feeling sore, bruised and leaky, but don’t worry – it will get better as time passes.


After the birth you will bleed as if you are having a period. It will be heavy for around two weeks and then will be lighter until around six weeks after the birth. At the start it may have some lumps in it. This is the lining of your womb and blood from where your placenta was attached. It changes colour from red, to pink, to brown. Use big sanitary towels and change them regularly, do not use tampons (so you don’t get an infection).

If you are soaking through pads hourly, notice an offensive odour or large clots then you should contact your midwife. 

Contractions (afterpains)

These may feel like strong period pains and can last up to six weeks. Your muscles are squeezing your
womb back to its original size. You may feel them more strongly when you breastfeed.

Sore vagina/stitches

You may be bruised and have a tear or episiotomy cut that has been stitched up. You may worry that going to the loo will break your stitches – it won’t.


  • Put a clean sanitary towel in the fridge and then use it
  • Drink lots of water to avoid passing concentrated urine which can sting more
  • Eat a high fibre diet to avoid constipation and straining
  • Take paracetamol (the amount recommended on the packet)

If you had a caesarean

You’ve had a big operation and it may take about six weeks for your wound to heal. Here are tips for looking after yourself:

  • Do some walking around every day (so you don’t get blood clots in your leg).
  • Rest as much as you can.
  • When you cough, sneeze, laugh or go to the loo, put your hands on top of your tummy and gently press it down.
  • Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby.
  • Don’t have sex.
  • Try not to walk up and down stairs a lot.

Giant breasts

"I was so sore after the birth. And when the milk came in I looked like a porn star!" Kerry, mum of one

Your milk ‘comes in’ around day three as your body is starting to produce milk rather than colostrum. The shape and feeling of your breasts change as the amount of milk increases. At first so your breasts will get bigger. They will go down after a few days. You should:

  • Feed your baby often.
  • Take a warm bath or shower.
  • Take paracetamol if they’re painful.

Visit the BabyCentre website for more advice on how to have a smoother recovery after the birth, including special tips if you’ve had an assisted birth, a traumatic birth, or a caesarean section.

Did you know?

As soon as you start having sex again, don’t forget the contraception! You can get pregnant again almost straight away if you have unprotected sex – even if you’re breastfeeding.

Read more on after the birth

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