What physical changes will I experience after delivery?

William D. Knopf, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
After the birth of your baby, your doctor will talk with you about things you will experience as your body starts to recover.
You will have vaginal discharge called lochia (LOH-kee-uh). It is the tissue and blood that lined your uterus during pregnancy. It is heavy and bright red at first, becoming lighter in flow and color until it goes aware after a few weeks. You might also have swelling in your legs and feet. You can reduce swelling by keeping your feet elevated when possible. You might feel constipated. Try to drink plenty of water and eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Menstrual-like cramping is common, especially if you are breastfeeding. Your breast milk will come in within three to six days after your delivery. Even if you are not breastfeeding, you can have milk leaking from your nipples, and your breasts might feel full, tender, or uncomfortable. Follow your doctor's instructions on how much activity, like climbing stairs or walking, you can do for the next few weeks. Your doctor will check your recovery at your postpartum visit, about 6 weeks after birth. Ask about resuming normal activities, as well as eating and fitness plans to help you return to a healthy weight. Also ask our doctor about having sex and birth control. Your period could return in 6 to 8 weeks, or sooner if you do not breastfeed. If you breastfeed, your period might not resume for many months. Still, using reliable birth control is the best way to prevent pregnancy until you want to have another baby.
This answer is based upon source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.