The postpartum period is just as much a period of change and adjustment as the first three trimesters. During this time your body adjusts to not being pregnant anymore and begins returning to its pre-pregnant state, while producing hormones to allow you to become a nursing mother, if you wish.
Two to six days after delivery, the colostrum in your breasts will change to breast milk. It is not unusual to have discomfort when your milk comes in, or to develop sore nipples from nursing, but keep in mind that swollen, painful, and tender breasts may be a sign of infection. (See below.)
The site where the placenta was attached to your uterus bleeds and this bleeding is called lochia. For the first few days after birth, the lochia will be bright red and your flow will be fairly heavy. After three or four days, the flow will decrease and change to a pale pink color. It will eventually slow and become brownish. The flow may continue for as long as six weeks.
The site of an episiotomy will be very sore for several weeks, especially when you go to the bathroom. Take sitz baths and follow your health care provider's instructions to prevent infection and help the area heal.
Be aware that most infections of the uterus, urinary tract, and episiotomy incisions occur within a few days after birth. If you have any of the following signs or symptoms of an infection, postpartum illness, or depression, call your health care provider immediately:
- Temperature of 100°F or higher
- Foul smelling lochia
- Increase in vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal pain and/or cramping
- Unrelenting feelings of depression
- Swollen, tender, or painful breasts