When you're learning about all of the ways that pregnancy and birth can change your body, the focus is often on what happens right up to and including when the baby is born. What happens afterwards can sometimes seem skipped over, particularly what happens relatively soon after you have the baby. There are some shocking things that happen to your body right after having a baby that no one tells you about, however, that you might want to know more about, especially if you're getting ready to give birth yourself.
In the excitement of the new baby being here — finally — and the feelings and emotions that can absolutely engulf you, some of the other things might not get as scrutinized as all of the little changes that happen to your body while you're pregnant. But pregnancy can affect you for longer than just those nine or so months when you're actually pregnant. And if you're not expecting some of what can come soon after you give birth, that might make it a bit more difficult to handle. You might wonder what's going on, if something's wrong, or if it's permanent. And, frankly, those first few hours, days, weeks, and months of postpartum life can be hectic and chaotic enough without having to worry whether your after-birth shivering or hair loss is actually a sign of something more serious or not.
Some of what happens after you give birth probably wasn't discussed much among your group of friends or other you turn to for advice, but it's still nice to have some sort of idea of what might happen so that you can be prepared if — or when — it does.
1. You Might Get Shaky & Shivery
You've likely seen depictions of a woman during and immediately after childbirth on TV or in movies and noticed how sweaty and exhausted she looks. That's not wrong — childbirth requires a lot of exertion, after all — but if that's all you've seen or heard about, you might be surprised to learn that you could feel shaky or shivery after you deliver your baby. Today's Parent noted that some women shiver or shake during the transition phase of labor or right after giving birth. If you're not expecting it, you might get a little unnerved.
2. You'll Have More Uterine Contractions To Help Your Uterus Shrink
Unfortunately, uterine contractions aren't over after your delivery is done. Dr. Yvonne Bohn, MD, the co-author of The Mommy Docs' Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, told The Bump that the uterus has to decrease in size again after you give birth and that uterine contractions and "massages" from doctors and nurses are what (painfully) help that happen.
3. Your Breasts Might Leak
After you give birth, you might notice that your breasts sometimes leak, like when you hear a baby crying, as Babble noted. However, this can also happen during sex, which can be surprising for you and your partner. Susan Condon, a lactation consultant, told Baby Center that your breasts could potentially leak or spray breast milk during sex because oxytocin is responsible for milk letdown as well as muscle contractions during orgasm.
4. You Get Sweaty
If you're really sweaty after you give birth, that's completely normal. The March of Dimes website noted that it's especially likely at night and has to do with the hormone fluctuations you're experiencing in the first several weeks after you deliver.
5. You'll Lose Hair
After you give birth, you may or may not expect to lose your plentiful pregnancy locks, but it's totally normal. Parents reported that falling estrogen levels are what lead to your postpartum hair loss. Don't worry, there's nothing wrong, you're just adjusting to different hormone levels than you had before.
6. You Might Gush Blood When Breastfeeding
The bleeding and discharge that happens after you give birth will only last for so long, but you might notice that you experience a little gush of blood when breastfeeding, because breastfeeding can encourage your uterus to contract, as a different article from Today's Parent noted. Blood gushes aren't really ever comfortable, but the bleeding and discharge shouldn't last for too long (though it can last for several weeks). If you're bleeding a significant amount, talk to your doctor right away to make sure that you're not losing too much blood and that everything is OK.
7. You Might Have To Deal With Swelling
Your body went through a lot during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. In a blog post on its website, Kamm McKenzie OBGYN, a practice in North Carolina, wrote that it's not unusual for your legs to swell due to changes in blood volume and fluid redistribution after you give birth.
Your legs aren't all that can swell, however. The tissues near your vagina can also swell quite a bit if you've had a vaginal birth, Dr. Jaime Knopman, MD, FACOG, an OB/GYN and the co-founder of Truly-MD.com, told The Bump in a different article. You'll likely be sore for awhile.
8. Your Period Might Get Heavier
Though this isn't something you have to worry about immediately after giving birth, your monthly periods might be worse than they were before pregnancy. In a different article, Parents noted that some women experience heavier flows after giving birth than they had before.
Your body isn't done with pregnancy and childbirth-related changes after you've given birth, but knowing what sorts of things might be headed your way will help you feel just a bit more prepared for what's to come after you welcome your new little one to the world.