5 Things To Expect After Delivery

Oftentimes, people focus on the care leading up to birth, leaving postpartum care to be overlooked. After a vaginal delivery, many women experience a host of different physical and emotional symptoms. While taking care of your newborn, it is also important to understand what to expect after delivery and not to neglect caring for yourself, too. 

What To Expect After Delivery

It is not uncommon for your hormones to be fluctuating after delivery which can lead to several symptoms. Some of the most common postpartum symptoms include bleeding, vaginal discharge, and soreness. Caring for yourself after a vaginal delivery is essential to making your recovery process as easy and quick as possible. Here at Kernodle OB/GYN, we have put together a list to help educate you on what to expect after delivery.

1. Vaginal Soreness

After a vaginal delivery, it’s very common for women to experience pain and soreness “down there.” During birth, some women may experience a vaginal tear, which is when the soft tissue around your vagina and perineum tears during delivery.  Even for those who do not experience a vaginal tear, birth puts intense pressure on your vagina, anus, and perineum, making pain, inflammation, and swelling common for several weeks postpartum. 

2. Mood Changes

Once your baby has made his or her appearance in the world, you can expect to be hit with several different powerful emotions. After delivery, many women experience baby blues, which differs in nature from postpartum depression. They may seem similar in the beginning, but baby blues may last only a few days or a week after childbirth, while postpartum depression takes on more severe symptoms for a more extended period. Other mood changes may include crying spells, reduced concentration, appetite changes, trouble sleeping, and feeling overwhelmed. If you are experiencing depression-like symptoms after birth that don’t fade after two weeks, it is important to call your provider as soon as possible.

3. Incontinence

Postpartum incontinence is when a woman involuntarily leaks urine after childbirth. The National Library of Medicine suggests that more than 1 in 3 women who have had a baby experience leakage at least once after delivery. This happens due to the weight of the expanding uterus, which may weaken the strength of a woman’s pelvic floor muscles. Women may leak urine during actions such as laughing, coughing, sneezing, or other activities that put pressure on the bladder. 

4. Vaginal Discharge

After delivery, women will begin to shed the superficial mucous membranes that lined their uterus during pregnancy. This vaginal discharge is called “lochia” and consists of blood, mucus, uterine tissue, and other materials from your uterus. In the following days after birth, lochia is dark or bright red with a heavy flow. About 10 to 14 days after delivery, lochia changes to a yellow-white color with a much lighter flow. Although uncomfortable, lochia is a normal thing to expect after delivery.

5. Contractions

A common misconception is that women only experience contractions before or during birth. However, this is untrue, and women can experience postpartum contractions anywhere from seven to 10 days after delivery. These contractions, which often resemble menstrual cramps, help to prevent excessive bleeding by compressing the blood vessels in the uterus. The best ways to combat painful postpartum contractions include over-the-counter pain relievers, heating pads, or labor coping techniques.


Surviving the postpartum period can be overwhelming. Sleep deprivation and breastfeeding, as well as returning to a routine, can only add stress to your new life. If you have more questions about how to care for your body after delivery, our physicians are happy to provide you with insight and advice. Visit our website, or call (919) 249-4700 to schedule an appointment with one of our providers.

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