Your Body:

What's Happening in the Postpartum Period After Birth

Immediately after your baby is born and the placenta has come out, your health care provider will want to conduct a quick exam just to make sure that you are fine and there are no complications.

During this exam, your health care provider will:

  • Examine your perineum to look for any swelling or bruising, and stitch up any tears in the tissue that occurred during birth or if you had an episiotomy.
  • Check your blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and breathing.
  • Check your uterus for its size, position, and how soft or hard it is. Note that your belly will be flatter and softer, but it will take several weeks for it to regain good muscle tone.
  • See how much bleeding there is. If bleeding is excessive, the uterus will be massaged from the outside to help it contract, you may be encouraged to breastfeed immediately (nipple stimulation also causes the uterus to contract), and sometimes medications may be given.

The vaginal discharge that occurs after you give birth is called lochia. At the start, it is red and bloody, but it will gradually taper off within two to six weeks.

You will be encouraged to eat and drink. Labor and birth are hard work, and your body needs nourishment. This is also the time to start getting to know your baby, celebrate with family and friends, take a shower, and get some rest.

Continue to "Your Baby: What's Happening" journey to parenthood

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010