Coping With Pain After Childbirth

A mom holds her newborn baby's hands.Now that you and your little one are home from the hospital, here are some things that you might experience as you begin the healing process, according to WebMD:

  • Afterpains: After you’ve given birth, you might have pain for a few days that feels like menstrual cramps. Consult your health care provider about taking over-the-counter pain medications.
  • Vaginal discharge: For a few weeks after delivery, you might have vaginal bleeding that starts as bright red blood but eventually gets lighter in color before it stops.
  • Breast soreness and swelling: Your breasts are filling up with milk, and nursing or pumping should help with tenderness.
  • Anxiety and fatigue (“baby blues”): You might be fatigued or anxious after giving birth. If it continues and deepens after two weeks, contact your doctor because you might have postpartum depression.
  • Skin and hair changes: During the first three or four months, your hair might get thinner because of changing hormone levels, and you might notice stretch marks on your breasts and abdomen.

If you delivered your baby by Cesarean section (C-section), it’ll take some time for your body to recover from this major surgical procedure. As you heal from the C-section, the area around your incision will be sore for a few days. You can help prevent infections by keeping it clean. WebMD offers these additional tips:

  • Provide support for your stomach by holding your abdomen when you cough, laugh or sneeze.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. For the first two weeks, don’t lift anything heavier than your baby.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Manage your pain. A warm washcloth or a heating pad that’s set on ‘low’ can alleviate pain around your stomach area. Consult your doctor about taking over-the-counter pain medictions.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that pain can interfere with your ability to care for yourself and your baby. The organization says standard treatments for women who experience postoperative cesarean pain include over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and prescription medications. Ask your doctor about any effects of prescription medications if you are breastfeeding.

Contact your obstetrician/gynecologist about an individualized plan for managing your pain and if you notice any signs of infection (redness or swelling at the incision site, a fever or excessive vaginal bleeding that has a bad odor). Visit for more information about behavioral health services near you.