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What to Expect Post-Delivery

Photograph by Twenty20

You've spent nine months waiting for the "big day," and now it's finally here. Whether you have a blessedly brief labor or it goes on for an arduous, long time, delivery doesn't mark the end of your journey. During the post-delivery period, you'll spend your hospital day, and the days at home that follow, feeling aches, pains and changes of your recovery from birth.

Time in the Hospital

Even though your baby has arrived, it doesn't mean that you can pack your bags and take her home just yet. Your health care provider will determine the length of your hospital stay based on how your labor and delivery went as well as your post-birthing medical condition. A normal vaginal delivery with no complications typically means a hospital stay lasting 24 to 48 hours. If you have a c-section, you will need to stay in the hospital for 48 to 72 hours after delivery. If you experience complications, such as preeclampsia or heavy bleeding, you may need to stay put until your doctor feels that you are healthy enough to return home.

RELATED: Hospital Birth vs. Home Birth: What You Need to Know

The State of Your Body

After giving birth, your physical state depends on what type of delivery you had. For example, if you had a vaginal delivery and tore your vagina or perineum, or had an episiotomy, it may be painful to sit or walk until the area heals completely. If you've had a cesarean, you will likely experience some pain in the incision area. Other aches and pains that you may have post-delivery include sore breasts and and contractions as your uterus shrinks back to its normal size. The pains of post-pregnancy may last for a few weeks after delivery. Cesarean pain and fatigue may persist for up to six weeks after giving birth.

Your Emotional Well-Being

Your body isn't the only part of you that delivery effects. While you may go into delivery thinking that you'll feel an immediate sense of love and joy following the birth of your child, you may also have some stress, fear, anxiety or even sadness. Roughly 50 to 80 percent of women get the "baby blues" following delivery. The "baby blues" are normal feelings of vulnerability or weepiness that last for roughly two weeks and aren't the same as postpartum depression, clinical psychologist and postpartum depression lecturer Shoshana Bennett notes. PPD is depression that doesn't go away in the week following delivery and gets in the way of the new mother's daily functioning. Only a medical or psychological professional can diagnose and treat PPD.

RELATED: My Postpartum Was Totally Depressing

Returning Back to Activity

Don't expect to get back to your typical activity level immediately after delivering your baby. Your body needs time to recover, and your doctor may recommend that you take it easy. This is especially true if you've had a cesarean. Your doctor or midwife may recommend avoiding stairs and not driving for the first few weeks after delivery. If you plan on getting back into -- or starting -- an exercise routine, ask your doctor before beginning.

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