What should I expect when I'm recovering from delivery? Labor & Birth

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Mom and baby after delivery.
iStock/IvanJekic
You need to be prepared for the birth -- and for recovery as well. Here, experts and moms share what to expect regarding post-delivery pain, bleeding, and more.

It Depends How Your Delivery Went

"If you pushed briefly and had no vaginal tears, then your postpartum recovery should be pretty smooth -- although you'll still be sore for a while! If you had a significant tear or a C-section, your recovery may be more uncomfortable, and it will take longer for you to get back to your normal activity level. That often takes up to six weeks." -- Sheeva Talebian, MD, member of American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), New York, NY

Healing Takes Time

"It could be one sore spot in your vagina or an occasional pull on your cesarean section scar -- and you have to be patient with your body for that last little bit. Also, after delivery, if you're breastfeeding, your estrogen level is low, so many women have side effects from that such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or pain with sex. Also, a lot of women will have some urinary incontinence that will linger until they stop breastfeeding, their estrogen returns to normal, and the vaginal...

"It could be one sore spot in your vagina or an occasional pull on your cesarean section scar -- and you have to be patient with your body for that last little bit. Also, after delivery, if you're breastfeeding, your estrogen level is low, so many women have side effects from that such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or pain with sex. Also, a lot of women will have some urinary incontinence that will linger until they stop breastfeeding, their estrogen returns to normal, and the vaginal tissue regains its suppleness." -- Sarah Yamaguchi, MD, OB/GYN at Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, CA

Some Pain Is Normal

"I tell all my friends who don't have kids that recovery is the worst -- it was for me -- and I'd do labor twice if I could just walk out feeling normal and skip the recovery. I was in so much pain and could barely sit for about a week. It was too painful."

Learn How to Manage Your Pain

"Continue taking stool softeners after birth until you start feeling a bit better. Try not to fear recovery  too much; fear makes it so much worse. Instead, focus on education. Ask your midwife/OB about recovery and ways to minimize pain. Finally, take it easy after you give birth. Don't try to be supermom, going grocery shopping the day you get out of the hospital and cleaning house the day after that."

Take Baby Steps

"I got out of the hospital two days after my C-section and was driving the next day. I never took anything stronger than ibuprofen! My advice: Get up and walk as soon as the spinal wears off. The sooner you start walking, the less sore you will be."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.