Mum & Baby

Recovering from labour

Mum and bub portrait

This article may help answer:

When will I feel back to normal after giving birth?

How long will it take me to recover from labour?

What can I do to help my body recover from labour?

Natural birth or c-section; labour is called so for a reason – it can be hard work. Which is why it’s extremely important for you to look after your body as it recovers from the birth of your baby.

Find out more:

    The shrinking uterus: Your uterus has been stretched like a balloon and will take a few weeks to go back to its usual size. As your uterus contracts – breastfeeding can trigger this – you may experience cramping that feels a bit like mild contractions or period pain.

    Bleeding: For the first four to six weeks after birth, you’ll have vaginal bleeding called lochia – this will happen whether you gave birth vaginally or via caesarean. The bleeding may be fairly heavy for the first few days after birth, like a heavy period, but should then turn pinky-brown and eventually stop. If you breastfeed, you probably won’t get a period until you stop breastfeeding. If you don’t breastfeed, you’ll probably get a period as soon as five or six weeks after the birth.

    Haemorrhoids (Piles): It’s quite common to get haemorrhoids after giving birth, but they usually disappear within a few days. Avoid getting constipated by eating plenty of fibre-rich foods like fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, and drinking lots of water. You can get medication for haemorrhoids from your doctor or pharmacist if you need relief.

    Tenderness: If you had a vaginal delivery, you will be sore. Ice packs can help reduce swelling. If you had a caesarean your incision will be tender. Stand up slowly and bend at the knee if you need to reach something on the ground. It can help to place a hand on your scar section if you sneeze or cough. 

    Emotional: It’s quite common to feel sad and weepy three to four days after giving birth. Hormones and tiredness are conspiring against you. If the feelings worsen and you find it hard to manage, speak to your doctor or midwife.

    Incontinence: Some women may experience some incontinence following labour. Tell your doctor or midwife and get some advice. Start doing your pelvic floor exercises again, which will help strengthen those muscles and reduce issues.

    Lactating women’s nutritional needs increase by up to 88 percent, so a healthy, well-balanced diet is important1.

    Follow your pregnancy diet and fill up on fruit and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol, especially if you’re breastfeeding as small amounts may pass into breastmilk.

    Take Elevit Breastfeeding or Elevit Women’s Daily Multivitamin to ensure you’re getting the recommended daily intake of key micronutrients to support your health as well as baby’s healthy development (if you are breastfeeding).

    While every woman is different, there are some easy ways to help your body recover from the labour you had. 

    Rest and relax as much as you can, and ask family and friends for help if you need it

    Be patient: Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither was your baby. Remember you have been pregnant for nine months, so you’re not going to look or feel like pre-pregnancy you overnight. 

    Be kind: Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a c-section, your body has been through a lot. So be nice to it. Rest and relax as much as you can, and ask family and friends for help if you need it. 

    Be positive: In the days and weeks after labour your body may look very different from how it did pre-pregnancy. Give it time to mend and stay confident and optimistic. Change takes time, but it will happen.

    You’ve read advice on:

    What to expect after labour

    How to get your essential nutrients to support breastfeeding and recovery

    How to help your body recover

    See the new mums checklist