Your post-baby body part 3

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Those first few months after birth are a magical time when a new mother gets to know the very new special person in her life. Unfortunately, they also come with a few unpleasant side effects. Here’s what to look out for and what you can do about it.

Sore, leaking or sagging breasts

What to expect: Get ready for some serious cleavage. Breasts often become engorged after delivery, which is a fancy way of saying “heavy, tender and swollen.” Expect some mild discomfort. Many nursing new mothers also find that their nipples leak in between feedings. This isn’t anything to be concerned about, but it can be a nuisance.

What you can do about it: Nursing pads inside your bra can prevent embarrassing spots from showing up on your shirt. The soreness should settle down with time. If it’s too much to bear, ask your doctor about suitable pain relievers.

Hemorrhoids and bowel problems

What to expect: This is a particularly unpleasant problem that many women experience, but are reluctant to discuss. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower rectum or anus that can make bowel movements difficult or painful. Fecal incontinence is another challenge that some new mothers, especially those who have had a long or difficult labor, face.

What you can do about it: If you are having difficulty doing a #2, do everything possible to soften your stool to reduce the pain. Drink lots of water and eat plenty of legumes, whole grains, fruits, veggies and other foods high in fiber (always sound advice). Depending on the severity of the problem, you might want to ask your doctor for a laxative. To help heal hemorrhoids, take a long, warm bath and use witch hazel pads to ease the soreness. Kegel exercises can help minimize fecal incontinence.

Urinary tract problems

What to expect: Pregnancy is rough on the area around your urethra. Swelling and bruising from the delivery can damage the nerves, muscles and tissue at the base of the bladder. As a result, many women find it painful to urinate or have difficulty controlling their bladder movements.

What you can do about it: These problems should mostly sort themselves out within three months of giving birth. In the meantime, pouring warm water over your vulva while you urinate may help take some of the sting away. If you’re experiencing frequent, uncontrolled urination, Kegel exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor and regulate the problem. You can find out more here. [LINK TO EE16]

Minor contractions

What to expect: Many new mothers are startled to find that they still experience contractions for several days after giving birth. Don’t panic, this is normal. It’s just Mother Nature’s clever way of avoiding even more bleeding. The contractions compress blood vessels in and around your uterus to slow the flow, much in the same way you would press on a wound. These contractions should be considerably less painful than the birthing ones and feel a little bit like menstrual cramps.

What you can do about it: Aside from taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, there’s not much you can do about this one. The good news is that these should go away relatively quickly.


1. Mayo Clinic Staff: Healthy Lifestyle – Labor and delivery, postpartum care. Available from: Accessed December 7, 2014.

Photo Credit: RobAris via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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