Pain and discomfort after birth – what to expect?

Pain after birth is normal- today we break down what you can expect in your first days post-partum. Your body undergoes massive changes during pregnancy. After delivery, recovery is a long process. You also have the additional discomfort caused by the birth itself (whether it was vaginal or via Caesarean section).

Read more on what to pack to your birth here.

Knowing what to expect and what is normal will help you to cope better as you navigate the early days of post-partum recovery.

What happens after pregnancy |BabyWombWorld

Your perineum 

After a vaginal birth you will experience some perineal soreness. The perineum is the area between your vagina and rectum, and it needs to stretch to let baby through. Most moms will have some small and superficial tears in the skin and mucous membranes. However, more serious second degree tears (which involves the muscle underneath) is very common. You may also have an episiotomy (a cut made by the doctor or midwife), which will heal more slowly.

If you are experiencing pain in this area try the following to ease the pain:

  • Use an ice pack on your perineum.
  • Soak in a warm bath with a hand full of course salt and a few drops of Tea Tree oil.
  • Use the pain medication prescribed by your doctor.
  • Take homeopathic Arnica tablets.

Uterine cramping 

Cramps are normal after delivery, even if you’ve had a Caesarean section. This is your uterus shrinking back to its regular size and it can be painful. It won’t be nearly as bas as contractions, and should only last a few days. Use a warm water bottle or wheat bag, and take the pain medication prescribed by your doctor. You should alert your doctor if pain is severe, or lasts longer than a few days.

Vaginal bleeding 

You can bleed for up to 6 weeks after baby’s birth. Bleeding will be very heavy in the first few days, and then gradually reduce. You may have a flair-up in bleeding after about 2 weeks. If it subsides again it is fine, but let your doctor know if it stays heavy.

What happens after pregnancy |BabyWombWorld

Breast engorgement 

For the first few days after birth your breasts will contain colostrum, which is small in volume but jam packed with all the necessary nutrition your little one needs in a few small sips. After 3-4 days your ‘transitional’ breast milk will come in, and at this stage breast engorgement is expected. This is unlikely to become a serious problem if baby is latching well and emptying the breast properly. Engorgement usually clears within 1-2 days.

  • Be sure to feed baby on demand and to allow baby to empty the one breast before moving over to the other side.
  • Apply heat to your breasts for a few minutes before feeding, to encourage milk flow.
  • Apply cold to your breasts inbetween to reduce inflammation.

If engorgement is severe or if you also experience symptoms like redness on the breast, fever or chills you should speak to your doctor. You also read more on a full guide to managing breast engorgement.


Haemorrhoids are common in pregnancy  and can get worse after the birth of your baby.

A few tips to help manage hemorrhoids

  • Get an over the counter cream to help relieve the pain.
  • Increase your intake of foods high in fiber and be sure to drink enough water, as constipation will make it far worse.

Pain after birth will be mild for most women. However, if you experience pain that is difficult to cope with, speak to your doctor so that he/she can help you make sure that all is fine and that you are doing everything possible to make it easier for yourself. Many moms assume it is normal and simply suffer in silence. Trust your gut and take care of yourself first mom!


Christine Klynhans is a midwife and lactation consultant with a firm believe that gentle parenting can change the world. She has worked in midwifery since competing her B.Cur nursing degree in 2004, and has a special passion for education and for writing. She currently works in a well-baby clinic and give antenatal classes and breastfeeding support. She enjoys working with parents of babies and toddlers, aiming to help them find gentle solutions to their parenting problems and assisting them in incorporating healthy habits and natural health alternatives into their daily lives.

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