You already know about the pains associated with pregnancy. The discomfort you feel in the months leading up to your due date don’t end once you give birth though. This is where many women are caught off guard when they learn that a week or two of healing after their delivery doesn’t leave them completely pain free.
When you consider the dramatic shift your body has experienced throughout your pregnancy, it shouldn’t be too surprising that it will take it awhile to get back to normal. Your weight isn’t the only thing that will take a while to reset though. After all that tightness, stretching, and pulling, your muscles, ligaments, and skin have been through a lot, and that will make them sore for some time. As these areas adjust, so too will your uterus, as it contracts back up into its original size and location. This process can take up to six weeks, and during that time (especially during breast feeding), you may feel after-pains from this movement. Urinating regularly can help relieve some of this discomfort. If you received any stitches, these will obviously be a bother and will take time to heal. Your swollen breasts will also be sore, and the nipples will probably get even more painful as they adjust to your child’s frequent feeding schedule. Your entire body will need to rebalance, and the if you had back pain from carrying the baby the last few months of pregnancy, it may take a couple more to ease the discomfort . Getting in shape will help speed this along, but don’t push yourself too much. You’re allowed some time to recuperate.
If you’ve already discovered these lasting pains and are trying to find ways to endure, there are a few pain relieving strategies you can try. Sitz baths, ice packs, wash bottles, and massages are supportive measures for postpartum pain. However, a new mom should not deprive herself of effective pain medication, such as extra-strength Tylenol, ibuprofen or prescription pain medications given by her doctor, even if she is breastfeeding. If you’re in very intense pain though, speak with your physician to make sure there isn’t a more serious issue. They may have advice for other safe pain relieving methods too. Otherwise, welcome to the joy and pain of parenthood!
– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.