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After Giving Birth: The Dos and Don'ts for New Mothers

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Updated Feb 16, 2023

After Giving Birth: The Dos and Don'ts for New Mothers

The average pregnancy lasts approximately 40 weeks or 9 months. However, this only marks the beginning of a newer and life-long journey of a family. While there is an understandably large focus on prenatal care, some women may feel a little lost after giving birth. Learn more about what to expect postpartum, especially after the first time.

Before and during birth

Generally, pregnancy lasts for several months. It goes without saying that there are many physical changes to expect during these months of pregnancy. Understandably, weight gain, stretch marks, and mood changes occur during this time as well. Throughout the pregnancy, you should regularly visit your doctor for prenatal check-ups. This ensures that you and your baby are healthy up until the delivery.

After months of being pregnant, labor signals that your baby is ready to come out. Delivery is relatively quick compared to the rest of pregnancy. You may receive medications and anesthesia during delivery. Rest is recommended after giving birth, so you most likely won’t go home right away. However, you will be able to hold and breastfeed your baby sometime after delivery.

After giving birth

After delivery, or the postpartum period, you have a chance to take a load off and breathe. Physically and mentally, delivery can be exhausting especially if you experienced long labor or a difficult delivery. Aside from feeling tired, here are some other things to expects after giving birth:

Maternity leave

In the Philippines, maternity leave is a benefit that all working mothers are entitled to. Mothers are given up to 105 days of maternity leave (with an option to extend for additional 30 days without pay and granting additional 15 days for solo mothers), which they can avail of as early as 45 days before their expected delivery date. During this time, mothers receive their full salary and additional benefits, which may vary depending on the employer.

Maternity leave is essential to not only recover from pregnancy and delivery but also to ensure proper bonding time between the mother and her newborn. After giving birth, breastfeeding is a must for the baby. However, some mothers do not produce enough breast milk and may require donor milk, and in some scenarios, formula milk..

Changes in bowel habits

During birth, many women experience loss of bowel control because of the passage of the baby and the contraction of muscles. While it may be awkward, it is not a cause for concern. However, after giving birth, many mothers tend to have the opposite problem: constipation.

Postpartum constipation or trouble passing stool after birth may last for one to several days. Drinking more water and eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are encouraged. If constipation lasts longer than a couple of days, your doctor may recommend taking laxatives or stool softeners to help.

Postpartum bleeding

after giving birth

Throughout your pregnancy, you will not experience your monthly period as you are not ovulating. After giving birth, you may not experience your period for another 1-6 months. If you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, your period may be delayed even longer. This is known as lactational amenorrhea and is also a method of natural birth control.

You will likely experience bleeding similar to your usual day 2 of menstruation for several days after delivery. Note that this is not the same as your period. This type of bleeding is called lochia and can occur after both normal vaginal delivery and C-section. For the first two days, the blood is bright red in color and gets darker over the following days. Lochia may continue for up to 6 weeks. During this time, you may use heavy-flow sanitary pads or postpartum diapers.

After pains

Labor and delivery are very taxing on a woman’s body. Forty or so weeks of carrying a baby stretches out and weakens abdominal and pelvic muscles. Additionally, many women undergo an episiotomy during delivery to prevent tearing of the perineum. This procedure is a small surgery that requires stitches afterward.

During the postpartum period, you may continue to experience contractions that can be uncomfortable. This is because it takes around four weeks before the stretched out uterus goes back to its pre-pregnant size. To be able to go back to its pre-pregnancy size, the uterine muscles would have to contract to shorten. In addition, the stitches from the episiotomy or C-section may feel sore or itchy as the skin and muscles heal. Proper hygiene and wound care is necessary to prevent irritation and possible infection.

Weight loss

Something most women look forward to after pregnancy is shedding their baby weight. Normally, losing more than 10 pounds in a day is not feasible through diet, exercise, or supplements. However, a mother can expect to drop 10 to 15 pounds immediately after giving birth! This weight loss is the sum of your baby’s weight, placenta, blood, and amniotic fluid. Days to weeks later, you can expect to shed more water weight especially if you are breastfeeding.

Altered mood

Lastly, one of the things to expect after giving birth is a change in your mood. Many mothers (but not all) experience baby blues. This is typically a sad or down feeling that lasts for a few days to weeks after giving birth. Most mothers recover from baby blues without any specific treatment. However, nearly 20% of women experience postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that requires attention as it can affect both a mother and her child.

Key Takeaways

In summary, there are many things to expect after giving birth. Not all of these will occur in all mothers and can even differ between each birth. Consult with your doctor or OB-GYN for more information regarding postpartum care.

Learn more about Mother Care and the Post-Partum Period here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Updated Feb 16, 2023

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